Hawaii Drowning in Incompetence

The Navatek Fiasco Points to Deeper Concerns About State's Management of Public Assets

On full display, in front of hotel guests at the Prince Waikiki, are the simultaneously sinking carcasses of Navatek II,  the abandoned, sunken tourist ship, now moved onto a nearby property and looking more like a waterfront hotel for the homeless.  Nearby, just a hundred yards away, an abandoned forty-five foot sunken wooden powerboat, continues to leak gallons of oil into the surrounding environment. Just a short distance away, on the 800 pier of this same harbor, is the sunken wreck of a long-abandoned red catamaran -- abandoned for so long that ocean lovers are now using it as a landmark.   All of this, as an utterly confused DoBOR and now GPS-jammer-deprived* DLNR attempt to figure out damage control . . .  again. (*Many of the members of the DLNR's DoCARE division are currently being investigated by the Attorney General's office.)

Hotel guests at the Prince, some being charged as much as $3,200 per night, are, we're sure, delighted with the spectacle.  And thanks to cell phone technology and the Internet, they're able to snap photos of the memory and quickly transmit the images across the globe, in what could only be construed as international entertainment.

DLNR's highly creative, and very entertaining, "Senior Communications Manager," Dan Dennison, did a wonderful job of spinning the incident into an apologetic eulogy about the tragic appearance, overstaying, and then sinking of the good ship Skye, the Navatek II, a huge aluminum commercial monstrosity that somehow found its way into the public recreational Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, some many months ago.  (See Dan's communique below)  The harbormaster at the Ala Wai claims he had nothing to do with admitting the derelict vessel into the harbor confines, ". . .  it came in over my head . . . ,"  and we've, so far, been unable to pinpoint the source of the wink-nod.  Dan doesn't seem interested in addressing this latter point in his most recent made-for-media mea-culpa communique, and nor has he addressed the other elephants in the room: 



Why has the DLNR waited so long before removing this oversized Budweiser can, the Navatek, while it was still floating?  Why wasn't this boat insured with State-mandated salvage insurance? Why are recreational boaters having to pay for this mess?


DLNR: "Boaters will pay to clean this mess up . . .  "

The expense for cleaning up this huge mess will fall on boaters themselves.   The Special Boating Fund (SBF), which is maintained by the revenues from slip and other boater fees, will be the source of the cash to fix these problems.  The mismanagement of public harbor properties has so depleted the SBF that the DLNR is demanding that boaters pay still more money into the fund to cover the deficits.  Other recent faux pas, like the $100,000 800-pier electrical repair fail, will also debit the SBF, with no benefit for the harbor system or the public that uses it. If the 13-234 fee increase proposal passes the BLNR board, some boaters will have their slip fees instantly doubled, some boaters will be required to pay a 1000% increase in electrical fees for electricity they'll never use, trailer boat ramp fees will nearly double, temporary mooring in an harbor will more than double, and boaters anchoring on their own tackle, in offshore locations, will find themselves assessed new, greatly increased fees.


Symptoms are indicators of deeper problems . . .

While we're obviously making some tongue and cheek, above, scratch the surface and the sad spectacle of the Navatek II, the oil-leaking abandoned powerboat, and the sunken catamaran, nearby, is merely a symptom of a much more serious disease in the State of Hawaii.  Incompetent management of not only public harbors across the State of Hawaii, but, perhaps, more insidiously, wider-spread mismanagement of public assets, generally, and a penchant for selling out to big money interests has somehow gripped much of the leadership in our beautiful State.

Mr. Dennison's made-for-media response hints at some of the deeper problems -- recurring problems that cost taxpayers and the Special Boating Fund that is used to administer the public harbor system, lots of unneeded expenditure.  For example, an attempt to repair electrical problems with the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor's 800-row pier recently went bad, costing the State an estimated $100,000, with no work even having been started.   The attempt to private-lease the Ala Wai Marine and Texaco dock properties to HoneyBee Corp., went sour,  costing taxpayers more than $100,000 and nothing to show for it.  The latter, in addition to all of the monies lost to taxpayers and the Special Boating Fund, as noted by Mr. Dennision, is an indicator that incompetence has become normalized in Hawaii.

The list goes on and on, and not just in the ocean recreation environment.  The City Council and Mayor of Honolulu have been bending over backwards -- or forwards? -- for big-money multinational interests allowing them to build some thirty-five new high-rise buildings within City limits -- some with ridiculous variances -- despite the fact that our infrastructure in the City is already strained-to-bursting.  This is nothing more than irresponsible kowtowing to big money pressure at the expense of the quality of life of the people who live here.

We would hope, by now, that the people of Hawaii, its grass-roots residents, have awakened and will take back their home.  Politicians are people, and people can be tempted by power and money to a point where they are blind to the concerns of the overall community that they were elected to serve.  These are sick people by any other definition, and sick people need the attention of those whom they harm through their affliction.


On another, but not unrelated, topic . . .

In a previous article we cited Lanai's Manele Bay privatization attempt by misguided legislators not paying attention to the will of the people. Below, we ask that you add your name to the growing number of residents who oppose the act of privatization of public lands and assets.









State Boating Division Footing the Bill

(Honolulu) - The vessel, Skye, also known as the Navatek is expected to be lifted from the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor tomorrow. The DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) notified the boat’s owner some months ago that he would need to remove his vessel as he was $16,000 in arrears in mooring fees and the Skye had become non-seaworthy and could not leave the state’s largest small boat harbor under its own power.

DOBOR officials sought bids from private companies to try and relocate the vessel to the Keehi Small Boat Harbor. A contractor who submitted the lowest bid of $28,000 had started to pump water out of one of the hulls, but stopped work, believing that the hull is filled with mud. Due to the serious concerns DOBOR had as to whether or not the vessel could safely be towed out of the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor channel, they decided to reevaluate the removal and have the contractor pull the vessel out at the old haul out area. The same contractor, (Xarbin Industries) will do the lifting work at a new estimated cost of $35,000. Equipment is being mobilized today. Once the vessel is on dry ground it will be surveyed again to determine its current value. If over $5,000 the State is required to hold an auction to dispose of it. If it doesn’t sell at auction, DOBOR will incur the entire cost of disposing of the boat.

DOBOR O‘ahu District Manager Meghan Statts explained, “Unfortunately when boat owners do not keep up with their obligations or lack enough insurance to salvage their inoperable vessels the burden falls to every boater in the state. We’re forced to dip into the boating special fund, which is made up entirely of fees individual boaters pay for the use of slips, moorings, live aboard privileges, etc. Additionally, we have to follow all applicable laws and rules when it comes to notifying owners of late-payments and other actions that impact their vessels and that process often takes much longer than people expect.”

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Media Contact:

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

(808) 587-0396



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