Three weeks after tsunami, Keehi Boat Harbor still shows damage

Russell Singer
Russell Singer

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Keehi Boat Harbor was one of the areas around the state that was left a mess in the wake of the March 11 tsunami.

While many of the boats that sank or sustained damaged that night have been removed from the water, a lot of the damage remains visible.

Russell Singer, assistant dock manager at the La Mariana Sailing Club, remembered the danger in the early morning hours of the tsunami.

"It was really, really a bad scene," he said. "It was like a car accident, and we were trying to extract victims. It was kinda how I felt."

The tsunami tore apart the piers at the sailing club, and at the neighboring Keehi Marine Center, which lost two thirds of its docks. Only the docks on the shoreline remain; the damaged ones have been cleared away.

La Mariana lost one of its three docks. A second was extensively damaged. Only two boats remain underwater there, and won't be removed yet.

"It's a low priority right now," Singer said. "When we have new equipment, when we have new docks in, then it's going to be in the way and then we'll get it out. But right now I just want to operate it as a marina, and right now we're pretty much functioning as we were before.

Singer has been spending his time, as he puts it, wrangling boats and patching up the docks as best he can. He has used some of the damaged piers as a staging area to moor boats temporarily.

"We're not excited about doing anything about this because (the piers are) wreckage. There's no point in fixing it. But they're stable and we have light conditions," Singer said. "But if the boats are threatened at all, I move them right away. I'm here 24/7, so I can move them right away."

Some of the submerged boats were saved, including the Waimanalo, which was brought up and repaired last weekend. It appears unscathed. But another boat, Sensation," was badly damaged. It lost its mast and much of its stern, and is now floating on barrels. It's owners still plan to repair it.

In the middle of the harbor, the Ehukai, a tri-maran, remains listing and partially submerged in 20 feet of water.

According to Singer, the big problem now is that there aren't enough docks for the remaining boats. "Sixty five boats were lost. We've always had a tight situation in Hawaii for slips, and even though we lost a lot of boats, its still a growing place. We're still gonna be in a crunch."

There's no officially tally on the damage to the boats. However, repairs to the La Mariana docks may cost more than $2 million.

Meanwhile, State Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland and Rep. Joey Manahan have scheduled a meeting Thursday, April 7, from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Keehi Boat Club for updates on the amount of damage at the boat harbor, and to discuss the ongoing recovery efforts.

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