Sad report on the status of
Ala Wai. I also have noticed the deteroration over the last 35 years we have visited Oahu. Too bad. At one time we considered moving to Oahu and possibly living on board. Glad we did not follow up on this plan.

Caleb Tarleton

Posted on: Monday, August 13, 2007
State has shown it can't manage boat harbor

By Roy E. Disney

Contractors working for the state repaired the Ala Wai Boat Harbor's Dock D last September.

Advertiser library photo

Two years ago, following the 2005 Transpacific Yacht Race, I wrote to The Advertiser, lamenting the sad and dilapidated state of the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. My letter was reprinted in a number of publications, in Hawai'i and the Mainland, and for a brief few months there was hope something might be done.

Two years ago, the second-largest fleet in Transpac's illustrious history arrived to find the entirety of "Transpac Row" condemned, rotting, and useless, not just to them but to the state in general. Instead of the 100-year tradition of a true "gathering place" for the visitors, the boats were scattered haphazardly around the boat harbor and largely left to fend for themselves and to feel entirely unwanted and unwelcome.

"How could it get much worse?" we said to each other in 2005.

Well, in 2007, another near-record fleet found out how much worse it could get. Two more rows of slips were derelict and almost nonexistent; boats had to be tied stern-to with no access to either electricity or fresh water. The feeling of aloha was almost entirely missing.

As you know, Pacific High Productions has been shooting a feature film slated for distribution next year by the Walt Disney Co. based on the Transpac race, working in and around Ala Wai since January. The condition of the boat harbor has severely limited our shooting options and angles, lest we embarrass Hawai'i by inadvertently photographing the pathetic conditions there.

We would certainly find it difficult to recommend it to others in our industry as a filming location. In the past, Ala Wai has been a highly desirable location, for such shows as "Gilligan's Island," and of course, "Hawaii Five-0."

Ala Wai Boat Harbor is without a doubt the single most important and most prestigious location for a world-class marina in the entire northeast Pacific. A restored and vibrant harbor, right on the edge of Waikiki Beach, would be a highly visible source of pride, and more importantly, of income, to the city and the state. It could be a tourist attraction of real importance.

But the simple fact is that NOTHING has been done, and Ala Wai continues to suffer from what seems to be almost malicious neglect.

If the trend continues, the harbor will be empty of useable moorings by the time the 2009 Transpac racers return. In the interim, local mariners of all kinds sailors, fishermen, every lover of the sea will continue to suffer.

It is tragically ironic that the state which takes such great and deserved pride in its roots in the sea, which has produced a living symbol of that in Hokule'a, should neglect one of its most important gateways to the sea.

It is my strong belief that government has demonstrated that it is simply unable to run the boat harbor properly. It is time for private enterprise to step in, take over and do what it has done for many similar marinas elsewhere, all over our country and abroad.

As I said two years ago, I write as one who knows the state more than a little. I first came here as a kid in 1939, and I have always returned out of love. I have come back as a tourist, as a businessman, as the owner of a local television station for many years, as a competitor in the Transpac, and most recently as a filmmaker and a homeowner.

It pains me as it should pain every Hawai'i resident that government has been so remiss in recognizing the importance of Ala Wai. Please, for all of us, visiting sailors, local sailors, but especially for all the proud citizens of Hawai'i, fix Ala Wai!!!

Roy E. Disney is a consultant with Walt Disney Co. and a longtime sailor who has set many sailing records. He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.