Dangerous ocean conditions forced the Expeditions ferry to cancel its return trip to Maui on Saturday, stranding 89 people on Lanai who stayed overnight before returning home to Maui the next day, according to the county.
Because off-island transportation could not be arranged Saturday, shelter was provided for 89 people, including about 40 staying at the Lanai Gym, Maui County spokesman Brian Perry said Tuesday.
The next day, Maui County contacted Paradise Helicopters, which provided a 10-passenger fixed-wing aircraft to ferry passengers from Lanai Airport to Kapalua Airport. Kapalua was selected because ferry passengers were staying in West Maui or had parked their vehicles in Lahaina for the ferry, Perry said.
Due to limited seating on the plane, it took eight to nine round trips to ferry all ferry passengers from Lanai to Maui, with trips beginning Sunday morning and ending around 4 p.m., Perry said.
“Rough seas made for a choppy night and trip back to Maui, but with the help of Paradise Helicopters we were able to get all of the stranded ferry passengers back to Maui safely,” said Mayor Michael Victorino.
Maui County has contacted Maui Economic Opportunity to provide ground transportation for passengers after arriving at Kapalua Airport.
MEO buses transported about 40 people from Kapalua Airport to Lahaina Small Craft Harbor and other destinations in Lahaina near parking lots, the nonprofit said in a news release Monday.
MEO made eight round trips from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Sunday. Among the passengers was a large local family attending a funeral on Lanai who were to return to Maui.
“MEO was pleased to play a small role in Maui County’s operation to help residents stranded by the Darby ferry shutdown,” said Debbie Cabebe, CEO of MEO. “We applaud the excellent work of the mayor and his administration and the Maui Police Department in helping bring individuals and families back to Lahaina.”