The wreck of the steamer C.R. Bishop off Kaua‘i

At around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 1894, the inter-island steamer C. R. Bishop, running at full speed of about 10 knots, was totally wrecked after striking rocks off shore of Kaua‘i just south of Hanama‘ulu Bay and approximately three miles north of Nawiliwili Harbor.

Although no lives were lost, its cargo of miscellaneous freight for Kaua‘i ports was almost entirely destroyed.

The C. R. Bishop had left Honolulu on Tuesday at 4 p.m. under the command of first mate Andrews — it being his first command of a steamer — since its captain, Emile Le Claire, was sick.

Just prior to the shipwreck, strong winds were blowing and the sea was running high in pitch darkness.

During the storm, Andrews thought he’d recognized the highlands of Nawiliwili, and therefore supposed he was just outside of Nawiliwili Harbor, instead of actually being three miles away from it.

When the C. R. Bishop struck, her whole starboard side was stove in, and she began filling rapidly.

One cabin passenger, Miss Mollie Bush, swam ashore, while Miss Maria Bush and one or two others waited aboard ship to be landed by the crew, who after which turned their attention to saving what little they could of the cargo.

Word was sent immediately to Captain Freeman of the steamer Iwalani at Nawiliwili Harbor, and Freeman steamed to the rescue of the wreck, but nothing could be done, so he decided to return to Honolulu with the news.

Andrews had been running to the Kaua‘i coast for years, and it was questionable how he could have made such a fiasco of his first trip as master.

The night was very dark, however, and the assumption was that he’d lost his bearings in some way and struck the rocks before he knew where he was.

Later, a principal member of the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company, which owned the C. R. Bishop, said that he did not think Andrews had been especially careless, but that the disaster was due more to misfortune than to inattention.

2 Comments
  1. Tom May 10, 2021 4:12 am Reply

    Fascinating! I always enjoy seafaring stories. I wonder, did the crew emulate the Birkenhead Drill?


  2. Manu May 11, 2021 7:41 am Reply

    In early 1960’s, I could see the wreck just off Nukolii, current location of the Kauai Beach Resort. Eventually, the ship collapsed and only the smokestacks were visible but lost to the sea by 1970. That area is said to be haunted by night marchers, perhaps the cause of the wreck?


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