The 28.1-metre Sunseeker Nakoa has sunk to a depth of around 300 metres following a major salvage operation that took place on Sunday (March 5). The yacht was grounded on February 19 after breaking free of her mooring in Honolua Bay, Hawaii.
Prior to the sinking, a statement from the Department of Land and Natural Resources said that the salvage operation would end in one of two ways: either with the yacht towed all the way to Honolulu, around 90 nautical miles away, or she would have to be scuttled en route due to numerous holes along her hull.
The salvage operation marked the third attempt to free Nakoa from her resting place in Honolua Bay, a protected marine reserve. The first salvage attempt was hindered due to inclement weather.
Prior to the salvage, the DNLR confirmed that fuel, batteries and other pollutants were safely removed from the vessel. Around 470 gallons (1,779 litres) of petroleum products and 14 marine batteries were recovered from the yacht, with helicopters transporting 55-gallon (208 litres) drums of fuel from the boat to a staging area where it could be disposed of.
Before the defuelling began, eyewitness accounts reported considerable fuel leakage surrounding Nakoa. Furthermore, the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources found damage to around 30 coral and live rock. The dive team "will need to return to do a more thorough assessment," but the DNLR has warned that the owner could face hefty penalties, as coral in this area is protected by State Law.
DLNR first deputy Laura Kaakua said: “We understand everyone’s frustration with the grounding and harm to the reef at Honolua, a bay with abundant marine life that’s loved by many residents of Maui and visitors alike."
Nakoa was a 2004 Sunseeker 94 model. She was being used for private yacht charters in the region but it is not known whether the yacht was being chartered at the time of the incident.