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.
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
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,
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
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
firstname.lastname@example.org,” 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