Sunday, January 06, 2008


What to do with one Superferry if passengers don't come

by Larry Geller

I suspect that if passenger counts continue to disappoint, the Superferry might shrug its shoulders and say it has to take on some military business to make ends meet. Now that special laws have been passed to overrule the Hawaii Supreme Court, it's free to sail, pending further legal action. So why not pick up a few Stryker gigs.

There may be alternatives, though. Let's explore some possibilities here.

1) Floating restaurant

We on Oahu have a great variety of restaurants to choose from. This morning, for example, we joined some friends for a dim sum breakfast in Chinatown. Neighbor Islanders can enjoy the same treats if the Superferry were converted into a floating restaurant.

This picture is of the Jumbo floating restaurant in Aberdeen Jumbo Floating RestaurantHarbor in Hong Kong. I've been there, the food is so-so, but the environment is stunning. Tourists love it.

They even have a "throne" and costumes so tourists can dress up as pseudo Chinese courtesans and have their picture snapped. I hate to admit that after downing some Wu Jia Pi jiu (五加皮酒), I joined my companions in getting dressed up and photographed. Watch out for that stuff. And you don't want to know what's in it. But I digress.

Wouldn't the Superferry look great, all fitted out in bright lights, and wouldn't people trek to the harbor for a great meal? Plus free parking, of course.

They could even do Chinese part of the year, Italian for a few months, and sushi for New Years.

2) Floating prison

Hawaii is short of prison space. Why waste a perfectly good Superferry. The idea isn't new. For example, it was tried in the Floating Prison UK: [Home Secretary] Straw Visits Controversial Prison Ship. Floating the prison off-shore would certainly solve the "not in my backyard" problem we now have at the Legislature, wouldn't it?

Think for a moment. We could bring back a couple hundred prisoners from theFloating Prison Pic private prisons in Arizona and avoid that expense. Unless someone challenges barfing all the time as "cruel and unusual punishment" or a form of torture. One ship wouldn't accommodate ll of them, but the Superferry company is planning a second one to be completed in 2009. That would take care of most.

The bottom area of the ship could be converted to an exercise yard or used for vocational training.

The British experience wasn't totally positive, though:

The vessel, bought by for £4 million from the New York prison authorities, was towed into Portland harbour, Dorset, in March to ease overcrowding in Britain's jails.

It became the first floating jail since the hulks of Victorian times. The same month, the then Environment Secretary John Gummer gave clearance for the development of shoreside facilities crucial to the jail's operation, despite strong local opposition.

Nevermind possible opposition. Our state government knows how to handle that. Draft a law, let opponents speak at "hearings." And of course, before converting the Superferry to a prison ship, I'm sure they could do some outreach to the community.

3) Floating observatory

When I look out my window, I see that the Missle Defense Agency's  floating radar vessel is back for more repairs at Pearl Harbor. I'm sure that thing is sensitive enough to pick up a gnat on my window screen. So it's possible to use a ship for observation purposes. This could solve a long-standing problem—community opposition to defacing Hawaii's mountaintops with observatories.

The idea is to get these things away from city lights and pollution, right? Here's another option that might work.

Keck_Subaru_and_Infrared_obervatories Why not cut a  hole in the deck of the Superferry so it can be open to the sky, and move one or more of the controversial observatories off of Mauna Kea and into its reinforced vehicle area? I'm sure that this idea will not meet with any community opposition.

Then break a bottle of champagne over the bow and send it off someplace. Since it will have to stay very still, it won't be burning much diesel fuel. Maybe whales will come by to watch it.

4) Floating state capitol

Do this and there will be no problems with the algae-filled moat around the State Capitol. Build a replica on the deck of the Superferry (keep the free capitol_a189parking downstairs) and float it from island to island.

This should have several benefits. For one thing, legislators and the Governor may gain a better appreciation of Neighbor Islander sensitivities, sensibilities and needs if they have to spend part of the time among them. And it's impossible now, ferry or no ferry, for anyone living outside of Oahu who is not on a corporate payroll to commute to the Capitol to give testimony on issues that affect them deeply—for example, but not limited to, the Superferry. Floating the State Capitol to Neighbor Islands will eliminate that glaring inequality between islands.

Of all of these possibilities, I don't know which one I'd prefer. Maybe the floating restaurant. But that's because it's lunchtime. Maybe during the upcoming legislative session I'll favor the possibility of floating the whole thing away somewhere.

I'm sure that there could be other (peaceful) uses for the Superferry.

I hope they find one.


I just read your comments. but lets be real.. It is incredible that we live on an island and cannot go to other islands in our state via the water. What is wrong with this picture . I am so sad that the elite and effete can dictate to the average folks what they can do or not do in this life. I am sad to read this blog entry on the ferry being a resturarnt. it is so far advanced in thinking and vision. Good luck in your ventures what ever they be.I have been all over thge world and have eaten at the resturant you speak of the food was excellent but the resturant was old and spoke of greater days.

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