FROM THE LAHAINA SUN
Rudy Chow now owns the second largest catamaran in Hawaii.
But that doesn't mean it's only the second best.
The new Hawaiian catamaran, 65-foot Aikane II, which paid a two-day visit to Maui, is good looking, fast and comfortable. Choy is confident the boat will prove to be a popular tourist attraction when it goes into passenger service in Honolulu.
Choy said the only catamaran in Hawaii larger than the Aikane II is the 100-foot Ale Ale Kai IV, now operating out of Honolulu.
Choy and a 10-man crew anchored just off the new Royal Lahaina Hotel at Kaanapali Beach last week after a crossing from Los Angeles that took only 10 days, 21 hours. The crossing was the maiden voyage for the boat, which was launched April 7.
"Coming to Hawaii was our shakedown cruise, our sea trails, and everything. I'd never do it that way again. There are too many loose ends. But it worked out all right," Choy said.
April is a cold time of the year to be crossing the Pacific, and the first three days out of Los Angeles were rough and unpleasant.
"I told the crew that after the fifth day, there would be warm skies and nice trade winds. Hell, it stayed cloudly and overcast. The crew was asking, "Is there really a Hawaii?"
The new boat was underconstruction in Los Angeles for 15 months. Choy said the total coast will be about $250,000.
Under the two fiberglassed hulls of the Aikane II, are three layers of mahogany marine plywood. The two masts are make of aluminum, and the boat is loaded with ultra-expensive fittings, cleats, winches, chainplates and rigging. Auxiliary power is provided by two diesel engines.
"It's a commercial boat," Choy said. "But we didn't want to make it a 'cattle boat' . . . We could have built a real barge, cheap. But you couldn't take pride in it.
The new boat was designed by C/S/K Catamarans, of which Choy is a partner. He is also a partner in Aikane Catamarans, which owns and operates the Aikane II plus smaller catamarans on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.
He hopes to license the new Hawaiian catamaran Aikane II to carry 140 passengers on short day cruises.
Along with some 30 passengers and crew members, he took the Aikane II from Maui to Honolulu last week. Under sail, the boat along at a brisk 10 to 11 knots.
After 23 years of building catamarans, Choy admits he is prejudiced in favor of the multihulled sailboats. The voyage from Los Angeles was his sixth Pacific crossing in a catamaran.
"I'm deeply prejudiced," he said with a smile. "I'm intollerant . . . But still, people look at you in this boat like you have two heads, from Mars. They don't understand it's just another way to go to sea. And that multihulls, in any conditions, on any course, are superior performers."
Buck Quayle at the Maui Lahaina Sun bureau circa 1970
Reporter/Photographer Buck Quayle in 1971 in Maui with the Cartagenian in the background
Another Day At The Office Haleakala National Park