A Look At Trilogy's 40 Year History Of Snorkeling Tours In Maui

Original Trilogy with border
Original Trilogy with border

In July of 2013, Trilogy celebrated 40 years of snorkeling tours in Maui. Looking back, it's been a humbling 40 years.

Trilogy began its very first charter between Maui and Lana'i on July 5th, 1973 carrying a grand total of 6 passengers. It was skippered by Capt. Eldon Coon, with his two sons Jim and Rand acting as first mates. That same morning, Jeanette "Mom" Coon and Patti, (Jim and Rand's sister), baked cinnamon rolls and cut fresh fresh fruit to be served on the ride to Lana'i.

The original TRILOGY, a 50' trimaran, was custom built in 1970 by the Coons in Seattle, WA. When they arrived in Hawaii, they had just completed a two-year voyage  from Alaska to Latin America, which then continued to the Galapagos Islands and eventually the South Pacific. In 1972, the family sailed into Hawaiian waters, and their journey would end up taking a turn which was entirely unexpected.

 
 

Inspired by their Pacific voyaging, the "Sailing Coon" family wanted to share their excitement with visitors who came to Maui. After spending the day with the Sailing Coon family, these new friends soon told others about their adventure of sailing aboard with Trilogy. Since that start over 40 years ago, the majority of guests still hear about Trilogy through referral and word of mouth. Even though much has changed in 40 years, we still strive to gain our reputation one satisfied guest at a time.

Trilogy Maui
Trilogy Maui

Prior to bringing guests to Lana'i, however, the Coon family wanted to discuss the plan with all of the Lana'i locals. In 1973, Lana'i was still a plantation community which was completely run by Dole pineapple. There was no resort on Hulopo'e Beach, the roads at the harbor were paved with dirt, and the only place to BBQ on shore was on homemade grills in the kiawe trees. After meeting with Dole reps and various island kupuna (elders), Trilogy was given the blessing of the community to bring passengers to the island of Lana'i.

Eldon cooking in the kiawe
Eldon cooking in the kiawe

There were, however, a few stipulations. For one, a fee would be paid from the passenger revenue to go towards upkeep around Hulopo'e Bay. Also, it was decided that Trilogy would never bring passengers to Hulopo'e Bay on weekends or public holidays. These were days for the locals to enjoy the beach, and 40 years after the initial agreement, both agreements are still honored today. Wanting to do more more for the Lana'i community, Trilogy decided 20 years ago that before Thanksgiving they'd give a turkey to every family on Lana'i. As a result of these efforts and the community involvement, Trilogy remains as the only boat company which is permitted to bring passengers to Hulopo'e Beach.

In 1982, after nine years of sailing charters, Captain Eldon Coon passed away from Leukemia. He passed the business on to his sons, and Mom Coon continued to bake cinnamon rolls and help with the company bookkeeping. Pattie  managed marketing and sales. Even though the business—and Maui—were both growing at a rapid rate, there had always been talk of potentially continuing their journey of sailing around the world. All of that changed, however, when Captains Jim and Rand met two local girls who anchored their hearts to Maui.

From 1981 to 1986 the Sailing Coon family would grow by six children. They got their sea legs at a very young age, even if they weren't always awake...

Captain Riley at the helm
Captain Riley at the helm

With a growing family and a growing visitor industry, Trilogy, too, started to grow. Multiple boats were added to the fleet, the crew had begun to expand, and trips were offered not only to Lana'i but also to Molokini Crater.

Trilogy Maui
Trilogy Maui

 As it was now apparent that the Sailing Coon family was committed to the Hawaiian Islands, it was time to turn that commitment towards helping to foster the local community. From the 1980s on through today, Trilogy has led the island's charter boat industry in community initiatives and causes.

Captain Jim Coon, the original first mate of the 1973 voyage, went on to become a charter member of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. As of 2013, he is the only original member of the advisory council who continues to serve on the board. He is a founding member of the Marine and Coastal Advocacy Council, , and served on the executive board of the Maui Visitors Bureau for over 20 years. He became a charter member of The Ocean Recreation Council for Hawaii which helped install the island's day-use moorings, and he was a founding member of the Ocean Tourism Coalition which represents 300 boating companies across the state of Hawaii. As of 2013, he's still the Coalition President. Finally, in 2013, Trilogy was honored by the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau for 40 years of service to the island.

Eco Gold Star with border
Eco Gold Star with border

More than just boards and councils, Trilogy was founded on the principles of helping to support the community and environment. Whether it be educating the crew through cultural courses or donating to community initiatives, there is a greater need to act as stewards for the culture, environment, and island. Even after 40 years this responsibility has continued to grow, and 2010 marked the beginning of the Blue'Aina program which stages bi-weekly reef cleanups and events.

pic woth border
pic woth border

As Trilogy moved into 2014 and the 41st year in business, it continued to remain a family business which is committed to helping the island. While the company has grown larger than anyone—especially Captain Eldon—ever could have imagined, it's still the guests who join us on each sail that we value as our greatest asset.

A big mahalo to all of our guests for 40 years of business—and we're proud to consider each of you as part of the extended 'ohana.

Mahalo nui loa and a hui hou!

Trilogy fleet in Maui
Trilogy fleet in Maui