Stranded Kauai Superferry Passenger Speaks Out

Iris Yamamoto
Iris Yamamoto

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- The Hawaii Supreme Court weighed in on the Superferry legal battles by making provisions for the ship to bring back stranded passengers and cars. But after days of frustration, some people have already flown home.

It was supposed to be a quick, spur of the moment, two-day trip. But for Iris Yamamoto, her vacation turned into five days of confusion and frustration.

The Superferry's maiden voyage to Kauai last Sunday attracted many Oahu residents.

"Oh, we were excited," said Honolulu resident Iris Yamamoto. "I was excited. I like to ride the boat. I like the ferry."

She got more excited as the ship got closer, and when she realized there were people on the harbor.

"I thought they were greeting us like they did in the old days, the boat days, when they wave at you and everything," said Yamamoto. "And some of us were waving at them."

But this group was waving signs, chanting, and trying to block the Superferry. There was no aloha from these protestors.

Yamamoto and other were stuck on board for a few hours. When she finally left the ship, she says Kauai police were not helpful.

"We kept trying to stop along the way to ask what are we supposed to do? What are we supposed to do?" she recalled. "And basically they're going, 'Go! Go! Get out of here! Go!'"

On Monday, Yamamoto was ready to go back to Oahu. As she waited at the harbor, more chaos and more frustrated response from the police.

"They said the ship had to turn around and get out of here. 'Go! Go! Get out of here for your safety! Get out of here!'" she said.

The next day, Yamamoto called state officials.

"They were not helpful at all," she said. "We told them we're Honolulu residents, we're stuck on Kauai, and all they said was, 'It's the Superferry. It's between the Superferry and the coast guard. We have no control."

Yamamoto ended up stuck on Kauai until Thursday, when she flew home.

"This is just crazy," she said. "I can't believe a few protestors could stop a whole ship from coming in to port."

Yamamoto had to leave her car behind. For the time being, she gets around in a rental car. She says this experience has changed how she sees Kauai.

"There are a lot of us; we love Kauai," she said. "But because now that this has happened, because of a small group of people on Kauai that are protesting, we don't really feel comfortable going back there right now."

Yamamoto's car is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. She said Superferry officials were very helpful, paying for hotel, food, airfare and even her rental car. They are working on a plan to bring the remaining stranded passengers back to their home ports.