Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Hawaii Superferry drydock: planned or unplanned? And can they see whales while bouncing and splashing around?

by Larry Geller

First, thanks to Mike Reitz for sending me the Star-Bulletin article from today’s paper that illustrates a glaring contradiction in HSF’s statement:

"We've had this two-week docking period in our business plan for the year, this is not something unexpected," said Superferry Chief Executive Tom Fargo.

Hawaii Superferry will cease operations for just more than two weeks on Feb. 2 for annual maintenance and re-certification required by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The mandatory shut down will affect 700 customers with reservations from Feb. 2-17. The company is offering a full refund or option to rebook at a later date. It plans to resume service Feb. 18.

Ok, the contradiction: if HSF has had the shutdown in their plan for the year and it is not unexpected, how come they allowed their computer to let 700 people make reservations??

Or is something else happening? If the ferry is having difficulties, should it be going out in today’s high seas (see Brad Parsons’ discussion of wave heights and restrictions here)? Do they plan a 2-week shutdown every year? And, of course, if they do, why do they take reservations for the same time?

They won’t answer me, but I wonder if they’d respond to questions from the print reporters (hint).

Brad’s article, How can you Spot Anything in 19 Feet of Vertical Movement? seems very timely in view of another Star-Bulletin article in today’s paper, Humongous waves forecast for isles.

The Star-Bulletin urges readers to “Play it safe.” Now, I am still confused about how wave forecasts apply to the channels through which the Superferry passes, but if waves there are expected to be “humongous” also, shouldn’t the Superferry be staying home for the duration? Wouldn’t “play it safe” include staying off any large capacity interisland ferries when the seas are rough?

At least, they could post a link to Brad’s Barf-O-Meter or advise passengers to wear old clothes, it’s gonna be rough out there today.

The HSF website did not show anything about a cancellation today and I was able to begin the process of booking a trip from Maui to Oahu.

Their computer now blocks out the drydock period in February. Seems like it could have done that before, if the drydock was planned. You’d think Adm. Fargo could steer his fleet of one ship better than that.

So we have several questions: was the drydock visit really planned in advance, and if so, why were reservations taken, and finally, should they be out there in “humongous” waves at all?

I think we are all concerned about passenger safety, especially in view of the recent Indonesian ferry tragedy.


Yep, I noticed the same thing about the 700 reservations, but did not think to write anything about it. If the drydock was planned for Feb. 2-17, then they would not have likely taken the reservations in the first place, therefore it can be reasonably concluded that the drydock was not planned for those particular 2 weeks. I think the explanation we both read privately involving the prior shifting cargo, barge maintenance and the Coast Guard is the more likely explanation.

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