Boat owners finally get their wish
Describing them as ecstatic might be slightly overstating the case, but there must be 70 boat owners on Oahu who, at the very least, are extremely happy.
Their collective good humor can be attributed directly to the fact they can finally moor their vessels in the Ala Wai Harbor's new, state-of-the-art boat slips on F Dock, after waiting nearly five years since the original dock was condemned and demolished.
Kudos should be given to the Department of Land and Natural Resources for expediting the job once Gov. Lingle released the funds for the project about two years ago. And perhaps additional "attaboys" should be given for its selection of the dock's builder, Bluewater Marine.
After witnessing the construction anomalies and "static electricity" problems following the earlier installation of the harbor's G Dock that was built by a Canadian firm, I'm sure the DLNR made the right decision in hiring Bluewater, as it's the same company that had previously replaced the Waikiki Yacht Club's docks.
Unfortunately, bringing up the subject of the WYC's docks also brings to mind a comparison of the club's methodology of marina management and maintenance versus the DLNR's.
When the WYC blessed its new marina in January 2002, its membership understood it must not only recover its investment and provide for future maintenance costs, but it must also protect its investment.
To achieve the first two objectives, the club's slip fees were increased from $4.25 per foot monthly -- the standard on Oahu at the time -- to between $8 and $10 per foot, depending on a boat's length.
Establishing and enforcing a number of rules boat owners had to abide by when docked in the club's marina accomplished the third objective, and among those rules was the prohibition of using, attaching or storing anything on the docks, including hardware, boxes, benches and barbecues.
Excessive heat or weight can damage or sink narrow finger slips and dissimilar metal fasteners will quickly corrode the aluminum dock framework used at the WYC and at the state's F Dock.
Based on past performance, it's safe to conclude that the DLNR is not likely to increase F Dock slip fees to the WYC's level anytime soon. And to make matters worse, I'm sure it will continue to siphon off some of the Ala Wai's revenue to support other harbors in the state where boaters pay as little as $2 to $4 a foot per month.
Also based on past performance, it doesn't seem likely the DLNR will have the will or the personnel to strictly enforce the rules it has on the books to protect the new docks from misuse, whereas the WYC's docks are likely to look new for decades.
Ultimately, we can only hope that all of those happy boat owners who are now tying up in their new slips will be so pleased they will personally do everything possible to protect the state's investment. Let's check back in five years, eh?