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Big Motor Yacht Runs Aground at Famed Surf Spot on Maui

On Monday, a 94-ft motor yacht, identified as the Nakoa, reportedly broke free of its mooring, drifted onto the reef at Honolua Bay, Maui, Hawaii, and began leaking diesel.

“Due to the urgency of the response needed, the Coast Guard [federalized] efforts to mitigate potential pollution to the environment,” according to gCaptain. “This means that the yacht cannot be moved until all fuel, batteries, and any other pollutants on board are removed.”

Fuel can be seen leaking from the 94-ft motor yacht Nakoa, grounded in Honolua Bay, Maui, a famed point break.
© 2023 Department of Land and Natural Resources

Here’s a post from the Qualified Captain’s Instagram: “I don’t like to post anything until I find out the full details, but as of now here is what I know. They were not properly tied up to a state funded mooring. They also apparently over-extended their stay. They broke loose of their mooring while they were below deck. They were not able to get back on deck in time. When they did in fact get back at the helm and started the engines, they accidentally went forward instead of reverse and went straight into the reef. This has caused a massive diesel spill, and will become a big salvage job. Sad and frustrating situation.”

The website The Inertia said that the owner of the boat, Jim Jones, apologized to the public, and insisted that no gross  negligence was involved. “It was a freak accident and the worst timing ever,” Jones told local news Monday night. “We couldn’t have done anything about this and we’re doing everything we possibly can to try to get off of here.”


“Sad and frustrating situation.”
© 2023 Department of Land and Natural Resources

The Inertia confirmed reports that Nakoa had overextended their stay. “According to [Hawaii’s] Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), day-use moorings are limited to two hours in the area but Jones says he had no knowledge of the two-hour limit and stayed there for two days.” The Inertia said that Maui County issued an emergency permit to remove the vessel, and the rental business that owns the Nakoa will be responsible for any of the costs associated with the removal.

Hawaii state officials said it would likely be “another few days” before the Nakoa would be removed from the rocks and reef at Honolua Bay, according to the Maui News. Here’s a report from yesterday regarding the cleanup operation:


  1. Joe 3 months ago

    I’m on Maui and was there Tuesday. Officials said he pulled up anchor first before starting his engines and couldn’t get them started. He was in the engine room when he ran aground. There are no moorings in the area.

  2. Spencer 3 months ago

    Light it on fire like they did in Ohio with the railroad disaster. Problem solved!

  3. Mark Wieber 3 months ago

    So, he was incorrectly hooked up to a mooring, where he did not know the rules. Overstayed the time limit by days. Did not have an anchor alarm set, or any warning that they had broken free from the mooring. When they realized the yacht was adrift, they quickly ran to the helm and put her in forward instead of reverse. Apparently no attempt was made to run out the anchor and kedge off the reef. No weight redistribution was attempted. No mayday was issued??
    How is this not gross negligence??

  4. Rev Dr Malama 3 months ago

    Bummer for everyone… the only thing needed is to learn from other’s mistakes and never trust heresy.

  5. Michael Smith 3 months ago

    It amazes me that someone qualified was not on that boat at all times. Dropping anchor is what you do right away. Somebody needs to have his toys taken away. Especially in a place so blessed.

  6. Karl 3 months ago

    Sounds like incompetence more than anything. Too busy partying.

  7. Jeff Hossellman 3 months ago

    No boats in that bay period. Not the first time. Too much swell.

  8. Dave Demarest 3 months ago

    Having personally assessed the scene on the first day it pained me to know I needed to avoid becoming involved in a large part due to having delayed purchasing 300 gallon flexible fuel tanks, fuel transfer pump and oil-absorbent booms which I have planned to purchase if/when my team is ever paid for a rapid environmental salvage and wreck removal at Mala Wharf conducted over a year ago. Quite literally, instead of being able to invest in additional salvage equipment I have been forced to spend money on litigation to get State Farm Insurance to simply open a claim (Demarest v. Alfouadi, Hawai’i District Court Case Number 1:22-cv-00064). There is a lot of talk about uninsured vessels, but what is the point of having insurance when insurance companies like State Farm refuse to even timely begin the claims process when salvage and wreck removal responsibilities of their insured have been clearly established?

    In addition, a tremendous amount of respect is owed to all those that chose to stick their neck out rendering assistance to the Nakoa yacht. I have seen how all too often marine salvage ends up being a thankless job in which one has to drop everything else at a moment’s notice while taking on massive liabilities doing work that is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. There are ways to skillfully minimize the high risk of personal injury, death, or substantial environmental harm while conducting a marine salvage operation, but as things currently are all the substantial time and money, along with wear and tear on gear, oftentimes end up being put out in good faith only to have an owner and/or their insurance company refusing to appreciate, let alone pay for, services rendered in a timely manner. I genuinely hope all relevant facts can come out without the need for multiple years of litigation.

    Having not been involved in either the Honolua Bay grounding or the subsequent salvage operations, I do not personally know all the critical facts to have firm opinion specific to that incident and I respectfully urge all the talkers and gawkers to read the following article before jumping to conclusions on any marine incident or salvage operation:

    Lawyers can literally litigate for years over a single comma and there should be precision in the wording of any legal changes that may result from this incident. This tragedy was not the fault of any entire group, and I respectfully hope all stakeholders can work together to refine both current laws, enforcement, and other options to find genuine solutions with a minimum of unintended consequences.
    David Demarest, Manager
    Giraffe Maui Marine Salvage & Supply, LLC

  9. Shelly Stevens, Haiku, Maui 3 months ago

    Being a lifelong boatnik and Maui resident for 20+ years, I’ve been following this obsessively. Dude owns a 94’ 120 ton pleasure yacht and has LLC charter company. He was operating/having a family trip w 4 adults 4 kids aboard. They moored to buoy meant for 2 hour day use in a beloved Marine Conservation bay that is normally used for 50 catamarans taking tourists snorkeling and where world class surfing happens. Spent 2 nights illegally tied to the buoy (the sound of running water is his insurance co washing their hands of this hot mess) and awoke @ 5:45AM to find they were aground on the shoreline. Dude says he was in the engine room getting ready to return to Lahaina. I call BS! No one climbs out of their bunk and goes straight to the engine room. It’s coffee then topsides to check the conditions, mooring etc. I’m certain Dude was sleeping one off and didn’t even notice anything about the movement of the boat until he heard the sound of crunching coral reef and rocks against the aluminum hull. He also said that his line to the mooring buoy snapped. More BS! No one ties a luxury yacht with a dinghy painter. Dude! Time to bust out the Chapman’s and learn some seamanship, like how to properly belay a line to a cleat or tie a bowline or conduct anchor watch. Now he says he has no insurance for his yacht that he charters. Really? Who financed that? A Cartel? Probably bc insurance co immediately cancelled his policy. First news reports here in Hawaii showed bilge pumps working steadily. Next day a red puddle appeared around the hull . Dude said he sent a diver to survey the hull and they reported broken stabilizer fins. Likely source of hydraulic fluid draining into the bilge and pumped over the side, yeah?
    The salvage operation is challenging. I keep thinking about it. Damn we need an amphibious Travel Lift! The vessel Nakoa, formerly Lady L, formerly Fan Sea, built in 2004 by Sunseeker, draws 7 feet. I’d love to see a shot of her hauled out or the designer Don Shead’s plans of the layout below the waterline. It’s amazing the surf has been small for Honolua Bay this time of the year. The tides here don’t fluctuate that much. A tug tried to pull her off and the sound (on the video taken from ashore) of the hull grinding against the reef was sickening! They managed to move her 90 degrees and got bow pointing seaward but something in the tow line failed so they are off to Oahu for new HD gear. Meanwhile morning dawns and reveals that the swell has pushed the hull back to a side tie position against the shoreline. Did I mention that first thing USCG removed all hazardous fuels and batteries by air lifting with a helicopter? No power onboard to run a pump once they pull her free. I’m sure the salvage crew will have a generator and HD pump at the ready, and maybe a couple of stuffing box sized bungs too. Stay tuned…

  10. Davro 3 weeks ago

    The insurance company should be named and publicly shamed until they help with cleanup cost of bay, if they accepted his insurance payments. If his insurance was paid up, then why not pay. Bad publicity will cost the insurance company a lot more in the end.

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