More Ferry Tales, Hawai’ian Style

As of this writing (26 September 2007), you still can’t take the Hawai’i Superferry service between the islands of O’ahu, Kaua’i, and Maui. The ferry remains tied to the dock in Honolulu, bound with hawsers of litigation, whale carcasses hanging from its bridge by thick cords of invective. In a masterpiece of corporate stupidity, the ferry owners told the state government, via the media, that they would take the boat away if it were not allowed to operate in six week’s time. Any protesters worth the price of a placard and a felt-tipped marker can sustain maximum effort when they know exactly how long they have to do so.

Nevertheless, there is a new ferry service riding the waves around O’ahu. It’s called TheBoat.

Yep. That’s right. TheBoat. Run by the same people who operate TheBus. I understand that, awhile ago, the good people of Honolulu held a contest to decide on a name for their public transportation system. And they decided to call the bus TheBus. Which spawned TheTrolley, TheHandiVan (specially-equipped minibuses for, you guessed it), TheCab. And, TheBoat. I have yet to see signs on objects around the place proclaiming TheCat, TheDog, TheTree, or (Heaven help us) TheSpade. But that’s probably because I haven’t been paying attention.

TheBoat, which started up on the 17th of this month, runs between Barber’s Point, on the southwest shore of O’ahu, and Honolulu. Its purpose is to provide commuters with an alternative to driving to work on the (ahem) Interstate. Which, on most workdays, is a parking lot during rush hour. Though the service is new, the idea is not – but the previous effort to run a ferry service from Barber’s Point to Honolulu foundered for lack of riders. This time, there are TheBus routes which coordinate with TheBoat sailings. And, there’s WiFi on TheBoat. They said.

It still takes three hours for me to get to work via TheBoat. A full hour more than by land on TheBus express routes. Or, at least, that’s what the schedule says. Of course, TheBus is using the (ahem) Interstate. Which, as I mentioned, is a parking lot during rush hour. Which means that the schedule is worth about as much as the qubits it’s printed on. (Somewhere in the midnight caverns of IT, there is a punster who needs to have his hard drive defragged.)

Well, there’s the Wifi. Right? Sure, if your laptop has a full battery charge (no power available) and you can tolerate a connection that makes dialup look like bleeding edge technology.

And if you can keep your laptop on the table.

TheBoat is, after all, a boat. Riding on the high seas. And high seas have these nasty things called swells in them. Through which your average small boat (and TheBoat is kinda small) has no choice but to crash and bounce. Your friendly neighborhood amoeba was kinda green around the gills at the end of the ride. On what the crew cheerfully told us was a calm day.

I shared my concerns with one of those crewmembers. Especially about the computer stuff. It was not difficult to talk with a crewmember. There were almost as many crewmembers as passengers. And he told me, probably not intentionally, that the company had a new toy and was still playing with it.

I rode TheBus home that night. It was late. The express routes to the leeward shore of O’ahu had all stopped running. Only the local was available. I took it.

So did the rest of the island. And, as faithful readers may recall, when you’re speaking of the leeward side of O’ahu, “the rest of the island” means, by and large, the working people, the laborers, the ones who work two full-time jobs for the privilege of sleeping on the beach.

It was a sardine-can trip. On this route, at this time of night, it always is. No seats, no standing room, and more and yet more people trying to cram aboard. The driver on this occasion was constantly yelling at standees to move to the rear of the bus, and on one occasion he actually stopped the bus, killing the engine and the lights. He wanted enough of us to smash ourselves into the engine compartment so that he could see to drive around the seventeen people who were trying to share his seat.

I sat there in the darkness, wondering about toys. About how many local buses a new, empty catamaran ferry would buy. And, about the remark made by one of the few riders on TheBoat that morning:

“It’s about time they did something for the regular folks around here, instead of just the tourists.”

– O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2007 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.


  1. Funny stuff O.C. (sorry about that) Exactly what state is the Hawaii Interstate connected to?

    So, when are you buying the speedboat?


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