Native Hawaiian fisherman of Makaweli named Mokahale

Not long after setting out to sea from Makaweli, Kauai, in his fishing canoe on Monday morning, Aug 20, 1900, a hardy old Native Hawaiian fisherman of Makaweli named Mokahale was swept far from shore by unusually strong winds.

Although he understood his danger and did his best to pull back to land, the winds proved too much for him, and he continued to be blown seaward until his canoe was below the horizon — about three miles distant from Kauai.

There, he was alone in the ocean and out of sight of land, with only a little water and some raw fish he’d brought with him to sustain himself, and with nothing to guide him other than the steady winds forcing him even farther from home.

When he didn’t return to Makaweli by late afternoon, his friends, neighbors and family watched in vain for his canoe from shore.

The next day, Tuesday, a search for him was made along the coastline with the assistance of police, yet no trace of him was found.

By Wednesday, Mokahale was suffering from thirst, exhaustion and exposure to the hot sun.

But, when the sun rose on Thursday, he saw the distant coast of Niihau, and by mustering all his remaining strength, he was able to paddle his canoe ashore there, where he was given water and food.

A few days later, on Wednesday, the 29th, a whaleboat from Niihau landed him at Waimea, close to those who had given him up for lost.

Afterward, at Makaweli, a luau was prepared for him in celebration of his safe homecoming.

And, Mr. Ferguson, the purser of the steamer “Kauai” — who’d met Mokahale at Waimea after his return — reported in Honolulu that the old fisherman seemed to have withstood his ordeal well, despite his advanced age, and was actually looking forward to once again fishing at sea in his canoe.


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