The once promising Hawaii Superferry certainly comes to mind after the recent news reports of some Kauai residents complaining of the high cost of flying to and from their island.
In early 2007, the idea that sometime in the near future folks living on Hawaii’s major islands, which included Kauai, would be able to visit each other just by jumping into their family cars – like folks do almost everywhere else in the world – was coming to fruition.
There was concern at the time for the safety of our winter whale population, but Superferry officials reassured islanders they had thoroughly addressed this issue with assistance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
There were many exciting scenarios envisioned; with boaters, paddlers, fishermen, or even emergency vehicles being transported within hours from island to island. Nothing however, prepared the Superferry operators in August of that year for the debacle they witnessed in Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai.
What occurred may have been the biggest display of apparent mass hysteria shown in these islands since Captain Cook was mistaken for the ancient Hawaiian god Lono.
But this time, rather than venerating the approaching vessel’s skipper, certain people with their acts of civil disobedience and anger-filled demonstrations managed instead to chase the frightful apparition from their shores.
Even today there are those still coming up with more questions than answers in trying to find logical explanations for such a public display of anger.
To begin with, they wonder if the name “Superferry” may have been too grandiose or threatening? Perhaps something more humble like “Ohana Interisland Voyaging Canoe” would have been more acceptable.
After all, the Superferry was considerably smaller than the cruise ships that regularly visit our islands’ ports without incident.
Or, perhaps it was the vehicles on board that so maddened the crowd. But if so, why hadn’t the interisland barges carrying similar loads been greeted with the same overt animosity?
It might have been the passengers on board that caused so many people to become so hostile. However wouldn’t one think the airport would be a more likely venue for protesting the incursion of too many visitors?
In the final analysis it would seem that the root cause for the crowd’s Superferry hysteria was probably based on a general fear of change and the unknown. As the 19th Century essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Fear always springs from ignorance.”