A list of Kaua’i’s doomed ships

Doomed ships of Kaua’i”Around Kaua’i there were shipwrecks that covered

the fur and sandalwood trade, the whaling era, the interisland coastal trade –

mostly island-owned schooners of small size – and large steamships.

In the

1800s ships were used to transport sugar cane from the plantations and every

plantation had a landing where ships would anchor offshore and be loaded with


“What happened to a number of these ill-fated ships is that either

the weather turned bad or they were heavily overloaded and sunk,” Rogers


Circling the island from Waimea to Hanalei and Ni’ihau, Rogers

described some sites of historic Kaua’i shipwrecks.

“At the mouth of the

Waimea River is a shipwreck indicative of the fur trade period. The Russian

ship, Attuelpa was cast ashore on January 31, 1815, and is probably the oldest

shipwreck in Kaua’i waters.”

Rogers added that in addition to the fact that

Capt. Cook chose Waimea, a good leeward anchorage, sandalwood also was

initially shipped from this area.

“More important that either the sandal

wood or the fur trade was the fact that the chief lived at Waimea, which was

the best reason for ships to come to that location.”

In 1819, Kaua’i King

Kaumuali’i’s son borrowed his dad’s schooner, the Young Thaddeus, and wrecked

it near Waimea. At Port Allen there are two recorded wrecks including the wreck

of the Chilean clipper ship, the Ivanhoe in

1915.The biggest concentration

of shipwrecks around Kaua’i, however, occurred at Koloa, Rogers said.

“This was a bad area to be anchored in if a Kona wind or south swell came

up. And it was a very busy port with a lot of lumber and guano being shipped in

and sugar and oranges being shipped out.”

Two significant wrecks that

occurred off Koloa landing include the steamship the Kalama in 1856 and the

Pele in 1895.

“The wreck of the Kalama is probably the first steamship

wreck in the state and possibly in the Pacific,” Rogers added. “And, the wreck

of the Pele is still a popular South Shore dive site, which is called ‘The

General Store’.”

In the 1840s some schooners met their fate in the

treacherous Nawiliwili Bay, which had no breakwater in those days.


significant wrecks – one of which can still be seen – occurred at Hanamaulu

Bay, and just off shore from Nukolii, respectively. The C.R. Bishop, a large

interisland steamship sunk near Ahukini Landing in 1894 and its remnants can

be sighted by a sharp eye along the northeast shoreline,

said Rogers. And,

at Nukolii, the Andrea Luckenbach ran aground on the reef and sunk in 1951.

Several wrecks occurred on the reef fringing Kapa’a, one of which is

happily remembered in a traditional hula called “Hula O Makee”. According to

Aunty Bev Muraoka, kumu hula of Helalani’s Hula Halau and Music Academy, Hula


Makee is a very old, traditional song about the Captain Makee, whose ship

sunk near Kapa’a.

A short distance north of Kealia Beach is an old pier

that rises far above the ocean. This was used with a system of ropes and

pulleys to convey sugar cane down to awaiting ships anchored below. The wrecks

of several small

schooners have been documented offshore from this pier as

well as near both Anahola and Kalihiwai.

At Hanalei Bay there are five

documented shipwrecks including the 1824 wreck of Cleopatra’s barge. The others

consisted of wrecks of small schooners used in the export of rice from Hanalei,

Rogers said.

Ni’ihau, too had its share of shipwrecks. Prior to the

Robisnon family’s acquisition of their personally owned barge, the Planter, an

interisland steamship used for shipping cattle from the Forbidden Island, sunk

in near-shore waters.

Although Rogers is concentrating on Maui County at

the moment, in order to finish Volume II of the SHIPWRECKS of Hawaii, keep a

look out for him diving Kaua’i’s shipwrecks in the not too distant future.

Meanwhile, Rogers is continuing to work on a survey of all potential marine

archaeological sites

in the state with Hans Van Tillberg of the University

of Hawai’i’s Marine Option Program.

“If anyone wants credit for finding a

shipwreck, email me at

pilialoha@hula.net,” said Rogers. “But remember, if

anyone finds any archaeological artifacts – submerged or otherwise – these

belong to the state of Hawai’i, and it is illegal to remove, damage or even

threaten such objects.”

All the more reason to read about shipwrecks



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