Boating amendments proposed

LIHUE — Approximately two dozen people showed up to the public hearing about proposed amendments pertaining to the rules and regulations governing boating activities at county beach parks on Tuesday morning.

The rules apply to the five permitted boating companies operating in Hanalei at Black Pot Beach Park. The area encompasses county-owned property that the Weke boat ramp rests on.

“We’ve been through this process many years ago,” said Chandra Bertsch, general manager of Holo Holo Charters, a 20-year-old, locally owned boat tour company. “Little did we know the rules never got finalized.”

Bertsch was under the impression that it was agreed upon years ago that Sunday operations were allowed, she said during her testimony.

She was talking about a public hearing that transpired in 2012, said Mel Wills III of Holo Holo Charters. At the time, the company was told that the “rules were shelved,” he said.

But, according to Special Management Area (SMA) rules and regulations, which is under the jurisdiction of the Kauai County Planning Department, some transpired unbeknownst to commercial boat operators, Wills said. For example, on July 27, 2016, a rule passed stating that permitted, commercial boating activities are not allowed within county parks on Sundays.

“That one day a week is very critical to our business,” Bertsch said.

Bertsch recommended that the rule be removed because she said, “it’s unnecessary and arbitrary.” Not operating on Sundays would slice business by almost 15%. Moreover, the business only operates in Hanalei six months out of the year, she said.

Aaron Pearlman, an employee of Holo Holo Charters, shared the sentiments of several other testifiers when he said that not operating on Sundays would make it difficult “to live.”

“It makes a huge financial burden on all the employees,” he said.

He also spoke about the proposed inability for companies to use certain areas to load and unload passengers. For example, one of the amendments proposes that the boat ramp off Weke Road be used only to transfer supplies to vessels twice a day and not for loading or unloading passengers. But commercial operations, which are a fraction of what they were 20 years ago, have been using Weke boat ramp safely and effectively for years, Wills said.

Tides and other natural elements make designating passenger loading and unloading to certain areas risky and “reduces our ability to make quick decisions on changing conditions,” Pearlman said.

“It limits the ability to keep everybody safe,” he said.

He suggested that they not have restrictions and be “confined” to the two Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources ingress and egress locations: one near Pavilion Beach Park and another by a portion of Black Pot Beach Park close to the river mouth.

Tim Hamilton, manager of Na Pali Catamaran, said that the boat companies in Hanalei are already “self-regulated” and don’t need new rules.

“We’re all members of the community. We care about the community and we care about Black Pot and we want to be as low impact as possible,” he said on Tuesday.

Bertsch also added that her company doesn’t use public facilities, including bathrooms and trash bins.

“Our impact on the park is very limited,” she said.

There was one amendment to the rules that Bertsch said she appreciated which was that commercial boating activities be permitted one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset rather than between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Ultimately, what Wills said he would like to see happen is for the SMA rules to be completely revised. His goal is to be able to continue working with the county and get things “smoothed out,” he said.


Coco Zickos, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or

  1. Auntie Aina September 5, 2019 8:36 am Reply

    These Companies care about the Aina ? Really? They all signed a agreement when they got there permits. To take 30 passengers per day max. Well Holo Holo has two 26 passenger boats. When they are busy those boats go out twice a day. That’s 112 people per day. Napali Cat has a 22 passenger vessel they take out twice a day. That is 44 people per day. Napali coast Hanalei. They take there 18 passenger boat out 3 times per day. That’s 54 people. Now they are crying because they cant work on Sundays. They take out way more people then there permits allows . These companies have never followed the rules. Why is there no enforcement of the existing Rules?

  2. commonsense September 5, 2019 9:35 am Reply

    Seems a little selfish to argue that not operating on Sunday will hurt the business and its’ employees. Holo Holo is a very successful local company that operates from Port Allen and Hanalei. Two trips a week won’t greatly impact the company and it will lessen the impact on the areas and allow a more relaxing and uncrowded atmosphere. The Wailua River kayak companies have had to work with the same arrangement and they are doing just fine.

    I have to make concessions for my business that impacts me and my employees financially, but I make it work because those are the rules.

  3. joebeach September 5, 2019 3:18 pm Reply

    No. Just no. These guys know that their permits allow for 30 people a day MAX, six days a week. Just because some mid level bureaucrat was willing to turn a blind eye does not change the rules. DLNR is a joke. Will the county do their job?

  4. Kapaaa September 5, 2019 7:32 pm Reply

    Enough already! Give them a foot and they take a nautical mile! Send them to harbors where they belong!

  5. Rev Dr. Malama September 13, 2019 8:52 am Reply

    Reminds me of a traffic ticket I tried to fight in court. I lost, the Judge said “just because you believe something to be true, doesn’t make it so”…..

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