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Grounded yacht owner responds to claims he refuses to pay for damage

HONOLUA BAY, Maui —The owner of the grounded yacht stuck on the reef in Honolua Bay is speaking out against reports that he is refusing to pay for his vessel’s removal from the shore reef, which the state estimates will cost close to $500,000.

“We’ve never once said that we are not taking care of this,” said Jim Jones, the owner of the 120-ton yacht Nakoa, in a March 1 interview with The Garden Island.

As previously reported, the incident occurred on Feb. 20, after Jones tied his yacht to a day-use mooring overnight. The mooring line severed in what Jones called “a freak accident,” emphasizing he was not aware of the day-use policy, and the yacht has been stuck on the shore ever since.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources took control of Jones’ yacht last week, days after he accidentally grounded the vessel by the Honolua-Mokule‘ia Marine Life Conservation District.

The DLNR has stated the yacht’s removal will cost $460,000, but that number could continue to increase, as the department has yet to devise a successful salvage plan.

“We don’t know at this point if the salvage is beyond the $460K, and probably won’t know until it is complete,” said DLNR Senior Communications Manager Dan Dennison in an email to The Garden Island on March 2.

Jones also faces additional fines for any boating violations and damage to live rock and reef structures.

Dennison reiterated that the DLNR asked Jones to pay for the removal, but he declined.

“The DLNR always asks for payment directly from a vessel owner or his/her insurance company. In both instances, payment was declined,” Dennison said.

Jones will still be billed for the total cost, and Dennison also added that Jones “could face additional penalties imposed by the Board of Land and Natural Resources” for failing to pay for the removal upfront.

“All of that would come later in the process,” he said.

But according to Jones, the DLNR only asked for his insurance information.

“If (the DLNR is) looking to us to come up with a million dollars right then and there, that ain’t gonna happen. If they’re willing to work with us on a payment plan, that’s gonna happen,” he said.

Jones said he’s currently working with an attorney and his insurance company on a claim, and that he has “every intention” of paying off what the insurance doesn’t cover. “You know, insurance companies. It’s never a slam dunk,” he said, adding that he pays $24,000 a year to insure the boat.

Jones explained he was initially planning on paying a salvage company directly for the yacht’s removal, but once he realized the bills that were going to be “thrown at (him),” he had to change his approach.

“Once the bill came out to $500,000 just to pull it off the rock and another $500,000 to take it back over to O‘ahu, that’s where everything got turned over to the insurance company,” said Jones.

Jones is also hoping the insurance company will cover the damage to his yacht, which he said was “totaled” by the incident. He valued the Nakoa at $1.5 million.

Jones owns one other yacht under his company Noelani Yacht Charters, and he estimated the second vessel to be worth between $500,000 and $700,000. He started the company in 2020 and purchased both yachts through loans.


Emma Grunwald, reporter, can be reached 808-652-0638 or
Source: The Garden Island

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