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The wreck of Pele

At midnight on March 24, 1895, the steam schooner Pele was wrecked after striking a sunken rock named Kalanipuao about three-quarters of a mile from land midway between Koloa and Eleele off the coast of Kauai.

Prior to the shipwreck, Pele had encountered heavy rain squalls after leaving Koloa for Makaweli shortly after noon on Saturday with a cargo of 200 tons of coal and general freight, and at the time of the wreck, no traces of land could be seen on account of darkness.

Luckily, no lives were lost.

A few minutes after striking Kalanipuao, Pele began filling with water and it was decided to abandon ship.

Two of the ship’s boats were lowered, with Capt. Walter McAllister in charge of one and Chief Engineer H. T. Walker commanding the other.

Boarding the boats with McAllister and Walker were four passengers, two men and two women, Norwegians and Portuguese, and the remaining crew of 15 officers and men.

The boats stayed by the steamer for about 15 minutes, until she began to keel over, after which it was decided to row to Eleele in the darkness.

After reaching Eleele at 4 a.m. and landing the passengers and crewmen, the captain and several officers returned to the ship to save all they possibly could.

They succeeded in recovering some personal effects, ropes, sails and provisions, and then they went ashore into camp at Nomilu, where they remained until Tuesday evening.

Upon their return to Eleele, the steamer Iwalani brought them to Honolulu, arriving there on Wednesday, March 27.

Although no blame was laid on anyone for the wreck, talk in Honolulu among shipping men had it that Capt. McAllister should not have hugged so close to land.

However, McAllister and the officers of the steamer stated that it had been impossible to see land in the rain and darkness on the night of the shipwreck.


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