Huge swell damages West Hawaii boating facilities


High surf Friday and Saturday caused damage at two West Hawaii boating facilities. Efforts are now underway by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to assess and rectify the situation.

The battering conditions resulted in the loading dock at Puako Boat Ramp failing and collapsing in the water. The waves also engulfed the Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor boat launch ramp, washing ashore rocks, silt and other debris. There, a wooden loading pier suffered minor damage as the strong surf snapped several planks from the structure, said Ed Underwood, administrator for the state DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.

In collaboration with the state Department of Transportation, DOBOR crews will begin clearing the debris at Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor today, Underwood said. He did not know exactly how long the cleanup would take, but said it would likely be finished this week.

Repairs to the wooden loading pier, on the other hand, will occur at another time, he added.

As for the loading dock at Puako Boat Ramp, DOBOR is working to get emergency bids to remove the structure from the water.

An engineer from DLNR’s Engineer Division is scheduled to visit this site and Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor on Dec. 30, when a full assessment of the damages and repairs needed will be conducted, Underwood said.

Despite misconceptions by some, Underwood stressed the Puako Boat Ramp and Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor are open to the public, as well as can be used by boaters. He asked for the public to remain “patient and realistic” when it comes to the procedure of fixing these facilities.

Hawaii Fishing &Boating Association President Rick Gaffney hopes DOBOR will consider emergency repair for the Puako Boat Ramp, which “is essential to recreational users, commercial fishermen and ocean recreation businesses, especially during winter, which is a prime time of year for tourism.” With Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor, the only other launch ramp in the area, currently “silted in and only marginally usable,” some boaters may be severely displaced or affected negatively in other ways, he added.

Underwood said Monday that as far as he knows, no other boating facilities in West Hawaii were damaged by the recent high surf.

For more information, call DOBOR at 587-1967 or visit dlnr.hawaii.gov.

Email Carolyn Lucas-Zenk at clucas-zenk@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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