Boat accident is man's second this year


POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2009

The owner of a 72-foot sailboat that ran aground in Waikiki early Monday ran into similar problems six months ago with another sailboat.

The state said that insurance adjusters for Leif Hart, who is the registered owner of the Momentum, are now assessing the damage to the boat, which has a 30-foot hole on the port side of its wooden hull.

Marine salvage company Cates International removed the boat in one piece at high tide after 3 a.m. yesterday. The vessel, which is insured, was towed to the Keehi Small Boat Harbor, where it was inspected.

State aquatics officials are assessing whether Monday's grounding affected the reef.

It is the second time Hart, who owns Pipedreams Smokeshop on Kalakaua Avenue at King Street, has grounded a sailboat on an Oahu reef this year.

On May 3, Hart's 44-foot sailboat Fast Forward ran aground on a reef off Kahala, the state confirmed. Hart worked with Vessel Assist marine towing and salvage company to remove the boat, which also was insured, on May 6.

The Momentum ran aground about 100 yards off the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel around 2 a.m. Monday with three people on board, all of whom swam to shore.

Hart told the state Department of Land and Natural Resources that he and two other people were sleeping in the boat while it was anchored off Waikiki. Hart said an anchor line must have broken, causing the sailboat to drift aground. He said neither he nor the others on board awoke until they heard the hull hit bottom.

Hart was unavailable for comment.

Since 2002, the state has spent nearly $750,000 for the removal of grounded and sunken vessels. This money could have been better spent on much-needed improvements to harbor facilities, a land department spokeswoman said.

Vessel insurance, similar to auto insurance, is supposed to handle the removal of grounded vessels or vessels in distress.

Effective Dec. 1, insurance will become mandatory for all vessels permanently moored in state harbors and offshore.

Vessel owners will be required to show proof of insurance — a policy, policy declaration page or insurance card — when applying or reapplying for mooring permits. Minimum coverage would be $300,000 in boat liability insurance, protection and indemnity, with the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation named as “;additional insured.”;

The state says there will be no grace period. Failure to secure insurance for vessels may result in denial of mooring permits and eviction.