First Hawaiian Auto Show

The annual 2008 First Hawaiian International Auto Show held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu was the usual mix of jaw drooling, expensive, automotive eye candy that mixed the old classics up with the latest offerings from the auto manufacturers and local dealers. In this day and age when the price of gas is creeping up to $4 or more per gallon, our fascination with all things automotive is long ingrained within us. The opportunity to see, smell, touch and sit in the multi-thousand dollar technical wonders without high pressure sales people hounding us is one of the hallmarks of this annual show.

Cars on display ranged from the latest exotics to practical sedans, in all price ranges from $15,000 to more than $200,000 each. My favorite cars of the day included the 2008 Lexus LS600 Hybrid, the practical 2009 Toyota Corolla (I own a 1993 model). the classic Ford Mustangs and vintage Volkswagens.

Of course many photos were taken as exemplified by the samples below.

Vintage Ford Mustang
Vintage 1965 Mustang up close

2008 Infiniti

Interior Shot 2008 Lexus LS 600
The $114,000 Lexus LS 600 interior.

1956 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
The vintage Volkswagens were my classic favorites.

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Last Honolulu Call for the Maxim Gorkiy

Maxim Gorkiy @ HNL, originally uploaded by macprohawaii.

This ship has been an annual visitor to Hawaii for several years. About a week ago I was notified by one of her passengers that this year’s stop would be the last. The Maxim Gorkiy is being retired from the firm that operates her.

The aging cruise ship came into Honolulu Harbor early this morning, followed by her corporate sibling the Amadea. Maxim Gorkiy arrived in Honolulu on a cruise segment from Fanning Island and left tonight for Japan.

Phoenix Reisen, a German charter firm has operated the ship for 20 years, retaining her mostly Russian crew. The ship while built in Germany is owned by a Russian firm. More information on the Maxim Gorkiy can be found here:

More photos at my Flickr site.

Gene Simmons Rocks SBH Conference

Gene Simmons of Kiss with Debbie and Winnie
KISS front man and A&E TV star Gene Simmons was in town last week to be the keynote speaker at the annual Small Business Hawaii Conference. The guy is the consummate promoter and entrepreneur. His foray into rock n roll was just was the launching point for his plan to become rich and diversify into a number of successful business enterprises. He said to a packed house at the SBH conference that a good businessperson does not put all of his eggs into one basket. Good advice I say for all.

Simmons was spotted at a number of locations on Oahu as he and the film crew from A&E recorded several segments for his successful cable TV show “Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels“. His appearance at the SBH Conference was extensively videotaped with segments to air this spring on A&E.

Mr. Simmons was the founding member of the rock group KISS, who have been together for more than 30 years and enjoyed success on the Billboard charts with hits such as “Rock n Roll All Night,” “Beth,” “Hard Luck Woman.” and “Christine’s Sixteen.” They have reportedly sold more records than The Beatles and Elvis in the United States.

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Rock n Roll on the Hawaii Superferry

Hawaii Superferry 12-13-07

Let me tell you about the Hawaii Superferry.

You know the big blue and white ship that spent most of the last 4 months sitting at Honolulu Harbor’s Pier 19 all tied up with nowhere to go.

Just about everyone in Hawaii is familiar with the issues that left the ferry tied up: environmental study requirements and waiver; court orders halting the operation; the special legislative session; the new law that was passed to help the ferry; the fear about hitting whales, invasive species, increased traffic, drug proliferation, transport of i’wi and sacred stones, net fishing, animals, bad weather and more. You’d think after all this the ferry would never run.

But run it did.

Superferry finally made its return to commercial service voyage from Honolulu to Maui and back on December 13. I was lucky enough to join the media contingent from on the inaugural trip. The following is a review of that Superferry trip.

Hawaii Superferry 12-13-07


Alakai is the name of the first Superferry vessel. It is a 349 ft. long, 4 story high catamaran cruiser that displaces more than 800 tons and contains 4 decks, 2 of which can hold up to 282 vehicles, a passenger deck that can accommodate up to 866 travelers and a high tech bridge. The passenger deck is finely appointed with large panoramic windows, 3 food and drink stations, many flatscreen TVs, a video game center, children’s playroom, aircraft-style seating, comfy sofas, and executive dining tables. Alakai can travel up to 40 mph (35 knots) and has four 10,988 horsepower diesel engines.


Employees at Hawaii Superferry seemed genuinely happy to be back on the job servicing paying customers. The ticket agents, security screeners, shuttle bus drivers, and cabin crew were friendly, courteous, helpful and informative throughout the trip. Some of the cabin crew had time to chat on each 3-hour trip segment.

Hawaii Superferry 12-13-07
Spectacular island views and choppy waves.


Starting service near the dead of winter, Superferry encountered first-day sea swells that were large enough to have the weather service issue “small craft warnings”. The mighty Superferry ploughed through the choppy seas in a bumpy and rolling fashion. The wind was blowing at about 10 to 20 mph, and waves of about 10 feet high would occasionally send their salt spray mist over the ship, splashing the side windows of the main cabin. The fully enclosed passenger cabin protects passengers and crew from the elements. However, several people did get seasick which is expected on such a bumpy trip. This should be less of a problem on days with good weather and calmer seas.

The choppy rolling surf was apparent from the Molokai Channel all the way to Maui shortly before reaching the harbor. Through it all, we never saw nor came close to any whale. The trip back to Honolulu yielded a much smoother ride since Superferry was just “going with the flow” in the direction of the same waves that pounded us on the voyage going over.

Popular activities to pass the time during the 3-hour long voyage included eating, drinking, sleeping, watching TV movies and programs, playing video games, doing work or engaging in conversation with other travelers and the crew. For the photo bugs like me, a Superferry trip presents a fantastic opportunity to catch views of the islands and ocean from a different perspective.


Needless to say that despite the less than ideal weather, the views of the islands and ocean were spectacular. Leaving and entering port on both islands present shutterbugs with views they normally don’t get while flying or being landlocked. Coastal views of Maui and Molokai were breathtaking. Even the protesters and increased security on Maui provided photographers with something to see and shoot.

Hawaii Superferry 12-13-07
Protesters try to keep their banner unraveled.


For the most part, the protesters on Maui were about as loud and boisterous as the ones on Kauai. At least they respected the security zone, thanks to highly visible, beefed up protection from the U.S. Coast Guard, Maui Police Department and the State Dept. of Land & Natural Resources. There were only a few protesters in the water who waved signs that could not be clearly seen from the vessel. Most of the protesters probably made their impact by slowing traffic down on the streets and highway just outside the harbor.

Processing and loading of vehicles and passengers was orderly and efficient. No one blocked the way. Cars, trucks, vans and SUVs went up and down the ferry ramp with no problem. Getting out of the harbor was not much of a problem even though protesters lined the sides of the road and created artificial traffic jams with their own cars.


Hawaii Superferry is a great alternative to interisland flying and well worth the time and money, especially if you are a business and need to transport many things with your vehicle. I can see the Hawaii Superferry becoming successful if the business community, nonprofit organizations and casual travelers embrace it as much as they supported for it during the tumultuous days of the recent special legislative session. I can’t wait to sail again in the future, especially when Superferry starts going to the Big Island of Hawaii.

Hawaii Superferry 12-13-07
Superferry “Alakai” kicks up a colorful sea mist.



* This posting will be be published in the January 2008 edition of Small Business News