Thirteen boat owners were granted access to Lahaina Harbor on Monday to check on their vessels after a deadly wildfire swept through the town five weeks ago.
After receiving permission from Maui County and the US Coast Guard, officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement escorted the owners, in two groups, to the harbor.
“Most of the 13 boats, as well as the pier they’re tied to, appear to be largely untouched by the flames of Aug. 8,” according to a state Department of Land and Natural Resources news release. “One boat, the Reel Luckey, the last name of its owners, is a metaphor for the line of white vessels, still afloat in stark contrast to the blackened landscape, buildings, and harbor structures.”
With 99 moorings in the harbor prior to the fire, most boats either burned or sank, and the water is filled with their hulls and other debris obstructing passage.
Kelli Lundgren owns the sailboat Lazy Daze. “I would definitely call them the lucky thirteen. We’re still trying to analyze how that firestorm missed these boats. It’s just incredible. As you can see there’s a lot of soot on them. We’ve been anxious… to get here. We’re happy our vessels survived, as so many of our friends lost their boats here. It’s quite tragic.”
The owners were permitted to board their vessels, do light maintenance, and retrieve personal items. There is no immediate timeline as to when the boats might be able to leave the harbor.
A Unified Command with the Coast Guard, Hawaiʻi Department of Health, and DLNR is working in close cooperation with the County of Maui to prepare plans for salvage operations to restore the harbor and provide safe passage.
In the middle of the inner harbor, away from the line of thirteen boats, Jim Walsh, the general manager of Atlantis Submarine Adventures, was thrilled when the engines on the company’s scorched passenger ferry started right up.
The stern of the 55-foot-long Holokai was scorched but Walsh said, “We’re happy to see her. When I saw the condition the engine room was in, it was perfect, nothing the matter with it at all. Once I saw that I said, ‘Man we’ve got a good chance here.’ Sure enough she fired up just like that.”
Off-shore and in view from the Holokai, is the company’s 48-passenger, bright blue Atlantis submarine. Images of it have been seen worldwide and Walsh expects it is a total loss.
Back among the “Lucky 13,” Lundgren says it was gratifying to confirm what she and the other owners saw the day after the smoke cleared. “Aerial shots showed the harbor with smoke coming out over it, and there’s this line of white at this end of the harbor. I just couldn’t believe it.”