Sailboat Update

When we saw the sailboat on the reef Sunday morning we wondered what the story was. Just how did the vessel end up in the surf in front of Kaloko?

Sailboat on the Reef
A large sailboat sitting on the reef in front of Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park
You would think that the local paper would have some mention of the story, just a blurb about the wreck? It was not until Thursday that there was any mention of the story. In the meantime rumors reached me about the story, rumors that turned out to be true.

The boat was stolen, taken out of its slip by someone who did not know how to sail. They made it less than a mile from the harbor before foundering on the reef. The man was arrested by rescuers, they became suspicious when it became apparent that the man did not know anything about the boat or about sailing. The local newspaper writeup was fairly good, if a bit late. Will they tow the boat out and sink it? It would be a great dive.

Sailboat on the Reef

I first saw it from the highway as we approached Honokohau, the sailboat in a bad spot.

A very bad spot.

A large vessel is sitting on the reef just off of the Honokohau beach about half a mile north of the harbor entrance. The beach is closed as it is part of the Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, closed along with other effects of the federal shutdown. We took a few photos as we cruised past the beach on the way to a Sunday morning of diving.

I looked through the news Monday, looking for information on the incident. There is none, no explanations as to how the sailboat got onto the reef, or what is being done about it. Everyone in the harbor knew about the boat, not a whisper in the media. Tuesday’s news?

Update- The sailboat appears to be the Corsaire, a charter out of Honokohau. No word on how she ended up on the reef.

Sailboat on the Reef
A large sailboat sitting on the reef in front of Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park

Honokohau Shark Abuse Response

A commentary from Larry O’Brien:

Recently, a video filmed at Honokohau Harbor has brought shame to our island. The video depicts some young people landing a large Tiger shark on the rocks at the harbor entrance. The tackle used is ropes tied to the land. This was neither fishing for food or sport-fishing where the animal is fought with a rod. It was simply disrespect.

The 14ft tiger shark Laverne at Honokohau, photo by Pete Tucker
The shark is an important part of the Hawaiian culture. For some, the shark is ‘aumakua. But for all, the shark was respected, not a plaything: “In old Hawai’i, catching the niuhi was the game of the chiefs, a dangerous sport for which special techniques were developed, according to historian Mary Kawena Pukui. Eating niuhi flesh was also taboo to women.”

Today, sharks are globally threatened by the finning industry, which wastes the life of the shark for a few pounds of fin. Meanwhile, live sharks are an economic benefit to the dive industry. Shark dives bring in at least $125,000,000 per year globally and any Big Island dive operator can attest to the enthusiasm that’s generated even by a small reef shark.

Further, the sharks at Honokohau are well known to the community. Everyone knows Laverne, the largest resident female, but the shark in the video is Tony. (Tony survived: He was filmed by some divers two weeks after the video was shot.) You can see photos of Tony and the other tiger sharks of Honokohau at

When the young men in the video returned the shark to the water, they were putting a large injured predator back into an area where dozens of people swim every day. Alua Beach, a popular place for families to bring keiki, is only a few hundred yards from where the shark was landed. There are multiple dive sites within a quarter mile to either side of the boat channel.

As with most regular divers at Honokohau, I’ve watched the sharks and the sharks have watched me. I’ve never forgotten that these are apex predators and need to be treated with respect (and watched from a distance). The sharks are there because it’s their natural territory and, probably, because of scraps from fisherman. There’s never been a shark attack reported at Honokohau.


– Sharks are important and culturally respected by native Hawai’ians; and – Sharks are not targeted by shore-fisherman for either sport or food; and – The area is frequented by swimmers, SCUBA divers, and free divers:

I would ask that the County of Hawai’i and/or DNLR to declare the area near the entrance of Honokohau Harbor as a “niuhi conservation zone” and forbid the intentional targeting by fisherman of large sharks within that area. The ban should forbid the use of hooks larger than those used for commonly-targeted sports and food fish and the use of anchored ropes or chains for fishing.

Larry O’Brien, Kailua-Kona

Shark Abuse

A truly disturbing video emerged this week. A couple guys hook and attempt to land a tiger shark. While the title claims it is a fourteen foot shark, it actually appears to be about six or eight feet long. The YouTube posting does not say, the location is Honokohau, where a number of tiger sharks are known to frequently enter the harbor. The poster and the person shown holding the line is a local named Mikey McCrum.

Judging by the YouTube comments most people are outraged at the behavior exhibited in the video. I will not even copy many of the comments here, they are simply too profane as people express their contempt. Hopefully those involved actually reads the comments and think a little, what they did is simply not acceptable.

Looking for Lavern

I dove with the usual crew the day before, but I did not go out with them Sunday. Now I am wonder if I should have. They came back with a fish tale and the video to prove it…

Lavern is a well known fixture around the entrance to Honokohau Harbor. She is big and easily identified through the messed up dorsal fin. She has not eaten any divers… yet.

A Trip Up The Coast

We limped back in on one engine.

An odd sound alerted Dennis to something amiss, a chuffing sound that the engine does not normally make. Opening the hatch showed more trouble, the engine had dumped all its oil into the bilge. It could be something bad, or something really bad, no way to find out without taking things apart, not something we were not prepared to do.

Nudi Photography
Pete photographing a nudi in a cave at The Pentagon
Already moored at the dive site buoy we decided to forget about the engine, at least for a little while, and do the dive.

Conditions were decent, but not great, some surge was stirring up the water. Faint echoes of whale-song could still be heard, probably the last we will hear this season.

Just underneath the mooring at Pentagon is a wonderful complex of caves, this was where we spent much of the dive. This is a great dive site, a shallow coral plain pocked with numerous caves and small sandy areas. It is a good place to look for invertebrates, big and small. The caves shelter nudibranch and other small critters. The sand patches are home to one of the largest invertebrates found on Hawaiian reefs, the horned trumpet snail.

I located a species of nudibranch that was new to me, the snow-goddess nudibranch (Ardeadoris poliahu). A pretty animal about 4cm long among the algae covered rock in a cave. The nudi was nicely positioned on a boulder in a cave, no problem to photograph, except for the surge sweeping me back and forth. I also found a gold-lace nudibranch that was well positioned for photography. I got some good photos, so did Pete when I showed him where to find the critters.

We would head home on a single engine without making a second dive for the day. Never having done this we all wondered how fast we would go on a single engine and how long it would take to return to harbor. We were a long way north, over twenty miles up the coast from Honokohau, the absolute worst time for an engine to fail. Everyone good for docking at midnight? Would we all make it to work tomorrow morning? Our speculation was for naught, we could manage seven knots without straining the remaining engine, we could return to harbor in good time.

The trip back may have been a bit slower, but this was not a problem either. There were humpback whales along the coast. We had good views of several groups as we traveled, including a couple nice breaches right off the bow. Another group, a mother, calf and escort played about in very shallow water at Makalawena. It was just a nice day to be on the water, nobody was in a real hurry to get back to harbor.

The trouble with the engine has turned out to be fairly minor, the oil pressure switch failed, allowing the engine to pump itself empty of oil. A quick and inexpensive fix, but a real mess in the engine compartment.

A little iPhone video of a whale breach, courtesy Deborah