Kamohoali’i, the ‘Shark God’ Catamaran, Heads for Shark-Infested Waters

The newly-built aluminum catamaran Kamohoali’I, constructed by BRIX Marine for Haleiwa Shark Tours of Oahu, Hawaii.

BRIX Marine continues to flex in the Hawaii shark tourism space.

Washington-based BRIX Marine has delivered the newly built aluminum Classic Tunnel Catamaran (CTC) Kamohoali’i for client Haleiwa Shark Tours of Oahu, Hawaii.

The 40-foot length, 14-foot beam vessel dubbed a 4014-CTC is the latest of the BRIX Marine family of Hawaiian shark tour boats. The new 20,560-pound tour boat, which is named after the Hawaiian shark god, is U.S. Coast Guard Subchapter T small passenger vessel certified.

“Kamohoali’i is a testament to BRIX Marine’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of marine innovation,” BRIX Marine Managing Director Perry Knudson said. “Our goal is to not only design and build great vessels, but also to support ventures like Haleiwa Shark Tours in their mission to educate and inspire through responsible marine tourism.”

BRIX Marine was launched in 1991 as Armstrong Marine in Canada before becoming Armstrong Marine USA and moving to Port Angeles, Wash. in 2001. The company was bought by the Bryton Marine Group in 2017 and was rebranded and restructured as BRIX Marine; BRIX is a scientific measurement of sweetness in a liquid.

Whether it be as Armstrong Marine in Canada or the BRIX Marine of Washington, the company always has been well known for tough aluminum power catamarans that service the recreational and commercial sectors. For BRIX, the vessel is familiar boat design and building territory.

“We have an in-house design team that has been designing tour boats for years,” BRIX Marine Sales and Marketing Director, Capt. Charlie Crane, remarked.

According to Crane, a boat like Kamohoali’i takes about six to seven months to construct. 

“Haleiwa Shark Tours is a shark dive cage (company),” Crane explained. “They have a couple of our boats already in service. They needed to expand their business. They have a few of our boats now.”

Haleiwa Shark Tours reports that they are the only company of the North Shore of Oahu owned and operated by Native Hawaiians. Owners Kala Alexander and Makua Rothman are professional surfers with credentials that include TV acting and surf competition wins. Environmental and cultural education and advocacy themes are woven into their tour experiences. 

BRIX vessels are dominant in the market.

“We have a few shark tour boats in Hawaii for sure,” Crane said.

Another shark-tour client is One Ocean, which is also based in Haleiwa, Hawaii.

“One Ocean is a very interesting company,” Crane remarked. “The owners Juan (Oliphant) and Ocean (Ramsey) are two remarkable people. She has a couple of books published and travels the planet speaking about sharks.”

Some people probably know Ramsey from her large social media following with which she shares posts of herself swimming in close proximity to large pelagic sharks.

On its website, One Ocean calls its 33-foot length, 14-foot beam BRIX vessels “the best shark dive boats in the world … one of the most stable boats in its class size, this helps to reduce chances of sea sickness.”

“Tour boats are popular,” Crane said of BRIX boats and the market. The stable catamaran design is particularly conducive for a working tourism vessel with a larger number of passengers. There’s seating for 29 passengers and two crew aboard Kamohoali’i.

“The layout is Volvo diesel, which sip fuel,” Crane said.

 Kamohoali’i is powered by twin Volvo 380-horsepower DG diesel engines with dual helm stations, the main station and a second station on the starboard side cabin aft. The goal of this layout is to enhance visibility and skipper control. A Seastar Optimus inboard steering system and EPS “smart cylinders” are designed to provide dynamic propulsion with increased performance and maneuverability. The boat should be nimble although no sea trial data was available at the time of this writing.

Hawaiian waters are notoriously tempestuous, so the aluminum Kamohoali’i features watertight hatches and bilge pumps in addition to emergency systems. The Garmin navigation system includes a 12-inch Volvo glass cockpit screen and 7-inch multifunction display. Safety features include an AIS Class B transponder and a VHF marine radio. 

In addition to shark tourism vessels like Kamohoali’i, BRIX Marine’s portfolio includes research vessels and Naiad rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB). BRIX is the certified builder of the Naiad brand, which is used across commercial, government and military sectors as the “4WD of the sea” and fast, safe, versatile workboats.

In March, BRIX Marine also launched a 30110-CTC survey boat Lugudi Barana. It has a 30-foot hull length, a 28-foot waterline length and a lightship weight of about 9,500 pounds.

It also features 5086 alloy aluminum hull skins, 5052 alloy aluminum interior transverse frames and longitudinal T-bars, according to the company.  

Norris Comer is a Seattle-based writer and author. His debut memoir, Salmon in the Seine: Alaskan Memories of Life, Death, & Everything In-Between is now available wherever books are sold. You can find him on Substack, Instagram and at norriscomer.com. He can be reached via email at norriscomer@substack.com.