DLNR: Grounded yacht scuttled at sea after being ‘successfully’ freed at Honolua Bay

The luxury yacht ‘Nakoa’ is now at the bottom of the ocean.
Published: Mar. 5, 2023 at 4:21 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2023 at 8:46 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The grounded luxury yacht ‘Nakoa’ was freed Sunday afternoon after three unsuccessful attempts in two weeks — but now, it’s at the bottom of the ocean.

At around 1 p.m. Sunday, the salvage ship “Kahi” was able to free the 120-ton yacht Nakoa.

Videos revealed a crunching of the yacht’s hull as the tugboat pulled it 90 degrees off the rocky shoreline.

Ideal weather conditions and a 3,300 horsepower tug made the third salvage attempt successful.

Crews were hoping to bring the yacht to Honolulu, but officials said they had to let the ship sink Sunday afternoon in about 800 feet of water.

DLNR’s Chair, Dawn Chang credited the salvage company for their patience and seeing the job through.

As the vessels were leaving, humpback whales were seen escorting the trio out.

“I will tell you, we were all pulling, we were all literally praying,” said Chang. “I think things were in alignment. I think the whales that escorted that vessel out there, also wanted it out.”

City leaders watched as the Nakoa was pulled away.

“All of us up there watching filled up with a big sense of relief,” said Maui County Councilmember Tamara Paltin.

“I’m very grateful to the State of Hawaii for their efforts in finding a salvage company, who was able to do the do their task,” said Mayor Richard Bissen. “The important thing was to get it removed, but the cost I think, has been borne by the taxpayer and that really should be the person responsible.”

The Save Honolua Coalition has been keeping a close eye on the 94-foot yacht since it ran aground near the Honolua-Mokuleia marine sanctuary.

“There is a scar on the shoreline rocks and part of the reef,” said John Carty of the Save Honolua Coalition.

“Let that scar be a reminder to us, that we need to make sure that we all do what we have to do, to make sure this never happens again.”


The state said “aggressively pursue recouping all salvage costs from the owner, in addition to the cost to repair damage to coral reefs and live rock.”

The environmental impact of the sinking is still unclear at this time.

Nearly two weeks ago, crews removed all the fuel and other hazardous materials on board.

DLNR said they’ll return to the location this week to conduct a post-incident damage assessment and work with the Attorney General’s Officer to hold the owner of the yacht accountable.

“Both for the damages to the reef, the environment, all the costs associated with the removal of the vessel, as well as all the administrative costs,” said Chang.

Hawaii News Now reached out to the yacht’s owner for comment and are waiting to hear back.

We’re also waiting to hear from the DLNR on what will happen to the sunken yacht.