DLNR News Release-State Takes Control of Grounded Vessel on Maui

Posted on Mar 18, 2023 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

(HONOLULU) – To avoid damaging a culturally significant site, the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) has informed the owner of the vessel, Kuuipo, that DOBOR is taking control of the boat and is immediately hiring a contractor to move the vessel to a safe location. 

The 56-foot motorboat grounded on the north side of the Lāhainā Boat Harbor channel on March 8. The boat’s owner, Vernon Ray Lindsey of Wailuku, told DOBOR staff that he was hiring a salvage company to remove the vessel. Lindsey was informed that he was prohibited from bringing the boat anywhere near the Hauola Stone (birthing stone) because of its cultural significance. 

Saturday morning, DOBOR was informed the Kuuipo was refloated to a location closer to shore and approximately eight feet away from the Hauola Stone. In a letter today to Lindsey, Meghan Statts, DOBOR Assistant Administrator wrote, “You are hereby notified that in order to protect this culturally significant site as well as to protect the natural resources…the State of Hawai‘i, through DOBOR, is immediately taking control of Kuuipo. 


In addition to the immediate hiring of a contractor to move the vessel away from the birthing stone, DOBOR will hire a salvage contractor to remove the vessel “by any means necessary.” 

Statts added, “Any unauthorized persons found aboard the vessel will be charged with trespassing. You are further notified that you (Lindsey) will be responsible for reimbursing the state for all costs and expenses associated with the removal and disposal of Kuuipo, and all administrative costs. Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are on scene. 

Lindsey was also informed that he will be liable for any damage to coral and/or live rock as the result of the grounding and salvage. 

DLNR Deputy Director Laura Kaakua shared, “The Hauola stone is where the Piilani alii line of Maui birthed their children. It is a sacred site. DLNR did not permit the owner to bring their boat anywhere near the stone, and specifically directed the owner to stay far away from the cultural site. The majority of boat owners are responsible, but recent actions by a few have harmed Hawaii’s natural and cultural resources. Damage to our reefs and cultures sites is unacceptable. DLNR is exploring ways to enforce responsible ownership to protect our ocean environment.”  

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Photographs attached (Courtesy Mapuana Makaiwi via DLNR) 


Media Contact: 

Dan Dennison 

Senior Communications Manager 

Hawai‘i Dept. of Land and Natural Resources 

[email protected]