A Hawaii whale watching boat struck a rock off Lanai island Saturday, and was towed back to port by another vessel in its excursion fleet after the crew safely transferred 15 passengers and patched the hull, Coast Guard officials said.

The 70’ catamaran Kaulana, operated by the Hawaii Ocean Project, Maui, was transiting from Lanai to Maui about nine miles distant when it struck a rock off Manele Bay. The master called watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu at about 9 a.m., and reported there was a hole in one of the hulls, with bilge pumps maintaining a steady water level. The vessel’s rudder was also damaged, and could not maintain a straight course.

The 70' Kaulana is the Hawaii Ocean Project's primary whale watching vessel. Hawaii Ocean Project photo

The 70' Kaulana is the Hawaii Ocean Project's primary whale watching vessel. Hawaii Ocean Project photo

After ensuring that the 15 passengers, including three children, were wearing lifejackets, watchstanders issued urgent marine information broadcast on VHF and dispatched a response-boat medium crew on patrol nearby.

Another excursion vessel, the Quicksilver Maui, diverted to assist the Kaulana, and the 120’ Maui Princess launched from the Hawaii Ocean Project base at Lahaina harbor.

Upon reaching the scene, the Coast Guard crew put one member onto the Kaulana to help with patching and dewatering the damaged hull. The Maui Princess arrived, and in seas up to 3’ and winds at 17 mph her crew took aboard all the Kaulana passengers and began towing the catamaran back to Maui.

“We are thankful for the quick response from the crews of the Maui Princess and Quicksilver,” said Petty Officer Second Class Alvin Seguin, a Sector Honolulu watchstander, in a Coast Guard statement on the incident. “All mariners share a common bond, and when something like this happens, it is through teamwork we reach the best possible outcome.”

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.