In a dinghy at Keehi Lagoon, La Mariana Sailing Club member Liz Miles and friend Darryl Cross maneuvered around once-pristine boats, surveying the wreckage of perhaps the hardest-hit harbor in the state.
Only one of three docks fronting La Mariana Restaurant remains intact after Friday’s tsunami. "This used to be a total marina," Miles said.
Keehi Small Boat Harbor is reported to have sustained the worst damage of all state-owned harbors on Oahu, if not the entire state, according to Edward Underwood, administrator of the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Boating and Recreation.
Preliminary damage at Keehi Boat Harbor is estimated at $3.08 million. Costs are expected to increase as the assessment continues, Underwood said.
La Mariana is one of two privately owned marinas that are tenants of the state at Keehi Lagoon.
Employees and volunteers were working yesterday to get La Mariana back into shape.
Pieces of "A" dock at La Mariana, torn up by tsunami surges, floated in the harbor or were tied to boats scattered in the marina.
Volunteers were able to piece together parts of "B" dock, which remains slanted toward "C" dock, the only one fronting La Mariana to survive the tsunami.
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So far, 67 boats docked at Keehi Boat Harbor are unaccounted for. However, those people living on boats have been accounted for, Underwood said.
"We don’t think we’re going to find anyone in a boat, thank God," he said. Displaced boats were allowed to dock at the Ala Wai and Kewalo Basin at no charge for up to a week.
Miles left the marina at midnight Friday to prevent damage to her boat.
"This boat is my baby," she said. During the tsunami, Miles said she was getting slammed back and forth in her cockpit. "It was ugly."
Some boats that remained at the harbor crashed into one another due to the tsunami surges. Miles stayed about three to six miles offshore and later docked off Waikiki before she returned to the marina Sunday after the tsunami surges subsided.
"You had to dodge around sunken wreckage to get here," Miles said.
A slip on "B" dock where Miles’ boat had been docked is now surrounded by pieces of loose wood from the floating dock. Had she stayed, her boat would have been smashed, she said. Her boat is now at "C" dock.
Close to 100 boats were docked at La Mariana. About 90 percent remain at the marina, a majority of which sustained some damage. Others are either at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor or Ko Olina. Two boats docked at the marina sank, according to Judith Calma, president of La Mariana Sailing Club Inc. One sunken boat near the marina remains unaccounted for.
"I’ve never seen anything like this," said Calma, who has worked at the sailing club since 1998. "It’s still a very shocking experience."
Randy Cates, owner of International Marine Salvage, was hired by Keehi Marine Center, next to La Mariana, to help with cleanup efforts. Broken piers and debris were transported to the Diamond Head side of the harbor.
"It’s going to be a long, difficult task. We’re making progress every day," Cates said, adding that all docks of the marine center need to be replaced.
A total of 129 boats were moored at the marine center before the tsunami struck. Yesterday, crew members of International Marine Salvage used floaters to mark the location of at least a half-dozen sunken boats from the marine center.