52 States in 8 Months

The SuperFerry. Three of us would not call it “super”.

Posted in Hawaii, University stuff by Ulf on December 17, 2008

superferryAfter a rather eventful Sunday we took the Hawaii Superferry from Honolulu, Oahu, to Kahului, Maui, on Monday 24th. While the Superferry was highly disputed in Hawaii in the last years, it turned out to be helpful for the Maui residents. They can now take their pickup trucks to Oahu for shopping tours, especially after the “Aloha Airlines” went out of business. Some natives have a different opinion on this as tourism to Maui grows.

There are controversies about the environmental impact of these ships. I’m not worried about this, at least concerning a possible impact on the sea life. The Alakai just has a draft of 12ft.  That is very little. Other ferries which I traveled with on the Baltic see have a draft between 20 and 23ft. Maybe some of the harbors on the Hawaiian islands are not deep enough for larger ships.

ship_stabilitySo, why am I telling you about the draft of these ships? A small draft will make ships less stable. This might sound like a playground for control engineers. The Superferry guys have however noticed that it really makes a difference for the passengers. That’s probably why the last pretrip email they wrote said this:

The motion of our vessel is unlike most other boats or ships you may have ridden. We highly recommend all passengers take a preventative motion sickness remedy well in advance of the voyage whether you think you may be susceptible or not.

I read that mail, and I ignored it. And most of the 3h trip was great. We had a nice sunrise in the breeze of the Pacific and we were enjoying the view of the coastline of some other Hawaiian islands.
2008-11-24_08-16-28-hawaii-0048 2008-11-24_07-58-13-hawaii-0038 2008-11-24_09-24-27-hawaii-0054

We really liked seeing other islands, but not just because of the nice view. Much more important was that this way we could travel on their lee side. Unfortunately, during the first 45 minutes of the ride and within the last half an hour, we had to travel in the open sea. That caused heavy body rolling and pitch movements of the vessel.

Matthias M. was the first one to feel a little sick, but it did not take much time until Matthias G. and Ania also took some comfort bags. Just in case.  This is an understatement, you know how that story goes… Only Andreas and I would still have answered “We’re fine.” to any habitual American welcoming phrase, although I must admit that it was a bit like traveling in a glider while looking for lift winds. Perhaps irrational driving trains to stand these conditions?

2008-11-24_09-25-07-hawaii-00581

Sitting in the fresh air and starring at the horizon is helpful. I also liked the Ginger Ale which we got for free :-). Although it was supposed to be for our sick fellows, I drank most of it. The SuperFerry crew was really bountiful! Thank you very much!

PS: While writing this blog post I read this article on Aloha Airlines Flight 243 in 1988. It’s unbelievable.

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5 Responses

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  1. Martin said, on December 17, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Is this your belly that can be seen in the 4th picture?!?! Get back to sport! :)

  2. Ulf said, on December 17, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Waaaah! I knew someone would enlarge that picture and tease me about it. It’s just the wind! In fact, since I am in the US I lost about 5-8lb of weight. I am below 160lb now which gives me an BMI of about 23 (I’m not so sure about my size). Still, Polly wants a cookie.

  3. Mauibrad said, on December 17, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Re: “…it turned out to be helpful for the Maui residents. They can now take their pickup trucks to Oahu for shopping tours, especially after the “Aloha Airlines” went out of business.”

    It has proven to be helpful to Oahu residents. The pickup truck users are mostly Oahu construction workers going to Maui. There are plenty of retailers on Maui. We still have 3 major interisland airlines, Hawaiian, Go!, and now Mokulele, which offer better fares than HSF.

    Re: “There are controversies about the environmental impact of these ships. I’m not worried about this, at least concerning a possible impact on the sea life.”

    The ship has not operated yet through the entire Humpback Whale season here. The waters that you rode through later on in the Winter become some of the most densely populated Humpback Whale waters in the world. In the Canary Islands these types of vessels kill whales on average every 2 months. It remains to be seen what the effect will be on marine mammals here. One land, destructive non-indigenous invasive species spreading from one island to another are a real problem. For example, mongoose, fire ants, varroa mites, and coqui frogs are not yet a problem on Kauai.

    Re: “The Alakai just has a draft of 12ft…Maybe some of the harbors on the Hawaiian islands are not deep enough for larger ships.”

    No, all of the harbors that HSF had planned to use are deep enough to take deeper draft commercial ships. The shallow draft of this vessel was not chosen for the need of these harbors and the principals overlooked that the shallow draft would make the seakeeping nature of the vessel less stable for acceptable commercial passenger comfort in common windy and swell conditions here. They and the DoD have also overlooked that the high cross beams between the cat hulls makes the vertical motion that this vessel can go through substantially greater than other fast cat hulls that have lower cross beams or M hulls. The shallow draft design that you point out is intended for much grander purposes than the deeper draft accommodating harbors of Hawaii.

    Re: “…I must admit that it was a bit like traveling in a glider while looking for lift winds. Perhaps irrational driving trains to stand these conditions?”

    Check this out, it gets really interesting in the last 30 seconds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSfoWWquSq8

    Aloha, Brad

  4. Tommy said, on December 18, 2008 at 3:05 am

    5-8=-3 … so you actually gained weight!!! :D

  5. Ulf said, on December 18, 2008 at 9:08 am

    @Tommy: lool, great maths! :-D

    @Brad: Wow, that’s amazing footage (at least once the audio is turned on)! Although I would consider our ride as rough, ours was still more pleasant than this one.
    Thank you for pointing out the concerns about the whales. I did not think about problems for those animals.
    Concerning the pickup trucks on HSF: We spoke to one Maui resident who said that it would make perfect sense for him to take his truck to Oahu just for shopping because things were so much more expensive on Maui. (I mean, he’ll probably have to do a lot of shopping since it seams to cost $130 only for giving his car a round trip…)


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