WEDNESDAY, Feb. 20
Will Hawai`i Superferry ever sail again? And no, I’m not joking: there have been so many delays, disappointments and disasters with this boat—funded by $140 million in federal taxpayer-backed loan guarantees—that this is now a legitimate inquiry. First Hawai`i Superferry, Inc. officials said the Alakai had minor rudder damage that was fixed over the course of a few days. Then they yanked the boat out of service and said she’d be drydocked for three weeks until early March. Now, today, company officials sent out a release saying the very act of drydocking the Alakai had so damaged her hull that they’d need another three weeks of repair, delaying her resumption until at least March 25. Oh, and that little rudder problem that started all this? HSF officials say it’s a “design flaw.” Outstanding. Just to remind everyone: the Alakai is not yet a year old. She has never voyaged anywhere near capacity, has been unable to sail in anything resembling high seas, has essentially been barred from entering Kauai’s Nawiliwili Harbor by massive citizen outrage and is not even being used by the Maui Land & Pineapple Company, which invested $1 million in the thing. This is what required an emergency legislative session and a special rewrite of our state’s environmental laws? Okay, I’m being unfair. The Superferry hasn’t hit any whales. It’s hard to do when you’re hoisted in the air in a drydock, but nonetheless, she has not hit any whales.
THURSDAY, Feb. 21
Woo hoo, we have a new metaphor! If we can build a missile that can blow apart an SUV-sized satellite that’s 130 miles up in space, how come we can’t properly fund our failing public schools, get everyone in the nation medical insurance, fix our crumbling bridges and feed and clothe our homeless people?
And now, back to our gentle friends in the sea (assuming they are still our friends, which given the following, may no longer be true): Earthjustice in Honolulu just emailed me a copy of a Los Angeles Times story published today on the mysterious death of a rare right whale dolphin near the U.S. Navy-controlled San Nicolas Island, which is just off the coast of Southern California. It’s hard to say without further testing—which could take months or even a year—but it’s entirely possible the dolphin died from exposure to sonar exercises. Usually sonar kills dozens of dolphins or whales (since they travel in pods) so it’s entirely possible this lone dolphin died from something else. Still, it has Earthjustice in a tizzy. “The Navy has scheduled sonar exercises in Hawai‘i’s waters in the latter part of March—the peak of humpback calving season,” Earthjustice’s Paul H. Achitoff wrote in the email. “Earthjustice, on behalf of Ocean Mammal Institute, Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, KAHEA [The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance], and Surfrider Foundation has asked Judge [David] Ezra to issue an injunction requiring the Navy to use more effective mitigation measures during the upcoming exercises. Judge Ezra is expected to issue a ruling shortly.”
SATURDAY, Feb. 23
It’s looking like a nautical-themed Coconut this week. Which really fits, because today I found myself admiring the lime green frigate HMCS Ottawa, currently docked in Kahului Harbor. I must say that the Canadians build some really pretty warships, even if they do have the potential to kill dolphins and whales with their sonar.
SUNDAY, Feb. 24
This isn’t exactly sea-related, but screw it: Republicans are starting to criticize Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama as being insufficiently patriotic because he doesn’t wear that beloved piece of flair known as the little American flag lapel pin. Seriously, this kind of bullshit is dangerous. President George W. Bush has sent nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen to their deaths in the unwinable War in Iraq, but he’s a God-fearing, nation-loving patriot because he adorns his coat with the Stars and Stripes. See, in the interest of electing Republican Senator John McCain president, it’s necessary for Republicans to paint Obama as some kind of leftist radical. Today on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels even called him “the most doctrinaire left-wing candidate probably ever offered to the American people.” Obama is more leftist than George McGovern, Eugene McCarthy, Ralph Nader and Eugene V. Debs—the latter of which was an avowed Socialist? Incredible—Obama cashes checks from the very same Wall Street banks and financial houses that contribute so handsomely to McCain. It’s times like this that I think back to that great, sober expose of American hypocrisy known as Office Space, and the scene where the Ron Livingston character tells the Jennifer Aniston character, “You know, the Nazis had pieces of flair that they made the Jews wear.”
MONDAY, Feb. 25
The Honolulu Advertiser reports today that Colin Veitch, president and chief executive officer of NCL Corp., is “optimistic” about the future of the Pride of America, which in May will become the company’s only American-flagged cruise ship left in Hawaiian waters. His reason is apparently that the ship has already been through hellish problems—being born of grotesque corporate welfare, bankruptcy and even accidentally sinking while still under construction—and things can’t really get any worse. Veitch may be nuts, but with that history it sounds to me like Pride of America is the best-named ship around.
TUESDAY, Feb. 26
Now here’s something you don’t read about every day: person or persons unknown have made off with the 140-pound, nearly life-size bronze sea turtle sculpture that had been on display at the Kealia Coastal Boardwalk. If you didn’t know the turtle was missing, or had even been there in the first place, forgive yourself: it’s hard to tell these things because the boardwalk is still, despite being finished a year ago, is still not open. And judging by the complete lack of work on the new “parking lot” that is supposedly the reason for keeping the boardwalk closed, it’s not likely to be open for many more months. So why was the giant bronze turtle installed in the first place? Hell, you might as well ask why the boardwalk was built—the answers to such questions apparently lie in the realm of the unknowable.
Anthony Pignataro is a twit. See for yourself at http://twitter.com/apignataro. MTW