Monday, May 24, 1999

High hopes
for hydrofoil despite
glitch in trial

The Honolulu-Ewa ferry
could be 'great' for getting in and
out of Hana, until service
begins on Oahu

By Gary Kubota
Maui correspondent


WAILUKU -- Several Maui residents say although the trip from Kahului Harbor to Hana was aborted, they liked the demonstration ride on a 140-passenger hydrofoil.

The hydrofoil ride is expected to take 45 to 60 minutes, compared to a two-hour drive by road, according to the operator, Pacific Marine & Supply Inc.

Mililani Kelepolo, a Hana resident, said the ride Saturday was fairly smooth at 22 knots, and she could imagine it getting better as it reached 40 knots.

"If the thing had worked out, it would have been great," said Kelepolo.

The hydrofoil began shuddering when it reached 23 knots several miles outside Kahului Harbor Saturday morning, forcing company President Steven Loui to call off the trip.

Loui said a flight control sensor was not working, causing an imbalance on the boat at higher speeds.

He said the hydrofoil could have continued at lower speeds to Hana, but the trip would have taken hours.

Some 20 passengers returned to Kahului Harbor.

The cancellation left some 130 passengers waiting on the dock at Hana Harbor.

"We'd like to apologize to the people for any inconvenience," Loui said. "The gremlins really came out in this trip."

Loui said the hydrofoil began having problems Friday, turning an expected 3-hour trip from Oahu to Maui into eight hours.

The boat was taken back to Honolulu for repair.

Loui said he's willing to bring back the boat for a demonstration but would have to make new arrangements with Hana residents, Council members and state harbor officials.

"If the community is supportive of the concept, we're willing to try," he said.

Several residents said they hope the hydrofoil returns.

Under a tentative plan, round-trip fares would amount to $85. Hana residents would pay $5 for a round trip on a space-available basis, Loui said.

The hydrofoil was bought to provide ferry service between Honolulu and Ewa.

Pacific Marine & Supply Inc., operator of the hydrofoil, is considering whether to offer temporary transportation on Maui until September, when the ferry service begins on Oahu.

Loui said it would offer visitors and residents an alternative in travel, in light of the partial closure of Hana Highway on weekdays for road repairs for the next year.

Hana Highway traffic at Honomanu is closed from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

Residents say the hydrofoil could offer them a way to shop in central Maui without driving.

Henrietta Revilla, a retiree who lives in Kahului but was born and raised in Hana, said she wants to visit her family in Hana but doesn't like to drive the road anymore.

The ferry appeals to her "because I could go home more," Revilla said.

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