By: Mari-Ela David
KAUAI (KHNL) - After leaving Honolulu Harbor on its first official journey out to sea, the Superferry gets a nasty welcome from protestors on Kauai.
Once the vessel arrived in Kauai around 6:00 p.m. Sunday, angry words rippled through the waters at Nawiliwili Harbor, as protestors temporarily blocked the Alakai from docking.
Some protestors swam and surfed towards the vessel, determined to block the giant ship's path.
For safety reasons, the Coast Guard stepped in and stopped the Superferry from docking, leaving 500 passengers stuck on the ship for at least an hour.
Participating in the protest were some of Kauai's leaders.
"I'm really disappointed and utterly shocked that the owners are not willing to follow the law to stop their operations," says Kauai County Councilmember Joann Yukimura
Critics say the Superferry is breaking the law. The Supreme Court ruled the Superferry must provide an environmental assessment. The debate between supporters and opponents is whether or not that ruling means the Superferry can still operate while the assessment is being conducted.
Among Superferry supporters is the State Administration.
"Governor Lingle, and the Department of Transportation - I'm very disappointed that they're not respecting the decision that just came down by the Hawaii Supreme Court and I would hope that they would honor that so we can move forward and resolve this very difficult and complicated situation," says Senator Gary Hooser.
But Superferry officials say they are well within the legal lines. In a statement, Hawaii Superferry says "We are extremely disappointed for the passengers who were booked on the voyage to Kauai...we are sorry to see that minority dissident groups have chosen to oppose a service that the people of Hawaii have overwhelmingly embraced."
The Superferry finally docked around 7 pm Sunday.
Witnesses say protestors laid down in front of cars as the crew tried to unload the vehicles off Nawiliwili Harbor. At that point, they say the Superferry boarded passengers back on the ship.