HONOLULU (KHON2) — An abandoned boat covered a Molokai beach with tons of debris this week.
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Residents said they were told to wait for the owner to pick up the pieces, but the community took is upon themselves to do it for a simple reason.
On Tuesday, the Coast Guard said it received a call around 4 a.m. for a boat, named The Mega, taking on water northwest of Molokai.
The Coast Guard was able to rescue all five people on board.
A few months ago, another boat ran aground off Windward Oahu. The Coast Guard said that vessel was involved in a rescue mission off of Mexico months prior to it washing ashore; and said human life is priority over a vessel and will leave the vessel behind after the rescue.
The Mega continued drifting towards Molokai and caught the attention of Maunaloa residents early Wednesday morning.
“We were waving at the boat trying to get its attention, but I don’t think anyone was on it,” said Sasha Dudoit, who saw the boat around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday off ‘Ilio Point. She was on the phone with her girlfriend Trisha.
“I said, ‘you think that’s the boat they rescued the people off of?'” Trisha Kahoalii said.
Sasha called Trisha back around 2 p.m. and said the boat was on Pāpōhaku Beach.
They said the boat was taking a beating by a rising swell and pieces of the boat were breaking off.
“I started pulling all the oil and gas onto the sand the best I could, but then the second wave came and the fuel came out and it was all over the place, it was so bad I had to wrap my shirt around my face, it had acetone, all kind of stuff like they were working on the boat too,” Dudoit recalled.
The two stayed cleaning the beach until nightfall.
By 6 a.m. Thursday, the boat was destroyed.
“It was in a million pieces, there was no boat, it was a mess from one end of the beach down the two and a half miles, it was just a mess,” said Kahoalii.
Dudoit used two of her vacation days from work to clean the beach that provides everything for her.
“We sat and cried because it was overwhelming what our beach looked like, no one was there to help us, no one from the state, nobody,” Kahoalii said.
They said coolers, food, medicine, even needles washed on shore.
“It was really unsafe for our kids so we told them not to go down there because even the fumes were making us dizzy, but we felt like we had to clean it,” the couple said.
Other residents saw the posts on social media and were outraged by how much debris was littering the beach and started bringing them food, drinks, trash bags, and then heavy equipment like trailers to haul out the debris.
The DLNR said state law requires 24 hours be given for the owner to remove a grounded vessel before DOBOR takes jurisdiction of the vessel and salvage. On Friday, DLNR said the boat owner did not have salvage coverage on his insurance.
But, by Friday, Molokai residents had already cleaned up someone else’s mess.
“It’s not just for us, it’s for the kids too,” Dudoit said. “Yeah, we could have waited, but wait for what? We never get the help and we need action and we do what we have to do,” Kahoalii said.
“We live off our land, we’re fisherman, we lay net, eat opihi, we do everything over here, we live off of our resources and that’s what feeds us and that beach has everything we need,” she added.
Within two days, a handful of Molokai residents were able to clean most of the beach from the debris.
“We don’t have much, but for our land, we do what we have to do, at least we try,” the couple said.
KHON2 asked how much money they used out of their own pockets, or other residents spent to clean the beach the women said, “We don’t need money, we just needed everything off our beach and for the state to come in and clean the water.”
“We just need them to realize here on Molokai, we live off of our resources and we care for each other because we only have each other,” Kahoalii said while getting emotional. “Just malama us and think and respect our island and our people because we do take action for their actions.”
The DLNR said they appreciate the residents cleaning the beach.