Wednesday, March 29

$2 Million Suit in Hawaii Yacht Grounding

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It didn’t take long, but now the other shoe has dropped. Last week, we reported on the 94-foot Sunseeker that was rescued and then scuttled after drifting onto a reef and leaking diesel oil off Maui, Hawaii.

Now the owner and the captain of the 2004 yacht, named Nakoa, are being sued for $2 million by the people who sold it to him last year. Kevin and Kimberly Albert, trustees of the Albert Revocable Trust in New Mexico, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.

They are seeking at least $1.45 million in damages for the yacht from Jim Jones, its new owner, his company, Noelani Yacht Charters, and his captain, Kimberly Kalalani Higa. According to the suit, Jones was supposed to pay the trust for the yacht for the next 15 years.

The suit also seeks at least $500,000 for salvage work and at least another $500,000 for environmental damages.

The suit says that Higa was not a named captain on the yacht’s insurance policy; the only approved captain was Joe Bardouche. Both have U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton licenses.

It also says that Jones used the boat for a personal cruise without approval by the trust, and used it “in a grossly negligent manner.” The suit says that Jones notified the trust he had taken the yacht out for personal use only after the grounding.

At the end of February, the yacht somehow broke a mooring line and drifted onto a reef next to a marine sanctuary in Honolua Bay near the northern tip of Maui. All eight people on board were taken off safely, but the yacht remained stuck, leaking diesel oil, for two weeks. During that time, a helicopter lifted 55 drums of diesel and 14 marine batteries from the deck of the yacht in an effort lighten it.

Finally, a tug was able to free the Nakoa, with the goal of taking it 90 miles to Honolulu for repairs. But the hull had been punctured on the reef, and the boat started to list once the tug started. It was scuttled in 800 feet of water. Read more:



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