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There are many stories in the State of Hawaii archives that tell of Pirates that landed on any one of our islands back in the 1500 - early 1900’s.

One story is where pirates arrived in the Hawaiian Islands on Oahu at Kaena Point. Paniolos (cowboys) were on the Waianae or west side of the island in their open fields. When the pirates landed, they decided to unload all of their gold from their ship. Estimates were that the boat was big enough to hold more than 80 souls. These pirates had spent their preceeding years at sea robbing other ships, their gold and valuables killing all whom they came across. It is guessed that they ended up in Hawaii in the late 1490s - early 1600s. The islands were sparcely populated with very few people. It has not been officially documented what nationality were on island back then but it has been guessed that they were mostly portugese. The Pacific islanders arrived later on.

So when the pirates landed at Kaena Point, planning to stay for a length of time, they chose to bury the gold they got to drinking, get drunk and a mutany begins. Everybody is shot and killed except two pirates that were shot but not killed. They choose to walk and see if there was other people on island where they could get help. After walking a few miles, one of the two falters and collapses eventually dieing. The last remaining pirate continues on his trek to find help. Eventually he collapses but doesn’t die just yet. Paniolos were in the area and found the last pirate still alive. They knew that he wasn’t from their area because of the clothing he was wearing. Since he was still alive, they took him to a local doctor. A nurse was assigned to care for him. But he was doing real bad. After a short while, he confesses about the mutany, the dead bodies, location and a little about the amount of gold that was burried. It was an enormous amount of gold that took 80 people over one day to unload from their ship. He says that the gold was burried and approximately where it was burried. He then dies. Nothing more happens.

About a week later, the paniolos were in the area tending to their stocks in the fields and find the second body. They also bring him into town to turn him over. When the nurse hears about the second body and seeing the same clothing, she puts 2&2 together and guesses that the story that pirate #1 may have had some merit to it. The town organizes a search party and with provisions in hand, they head out to Kaena Point. Once there, they find the pirate ship, the dead bodies and weapons spread all over. They create a mass grave, bury the bodies and artifacts and begin their search for the gold. But aside from a few gold coins here and there, no mass tons of gold was ever found.

Over the next few hundred years, tides may have come in or gone out. But they have definately changed. Estimates are that the tides have come in. That would tend to indicate that assuming the pirates burried their gold on dry ground, but close to the shoreline, the gold would now be burried in what is now 20′-30′ of water. The water at Kaena Point is very rough and currents are trecherous. This area is also known for its sharks and sudden drop offs to depths of 80′-150′ just off shore in a short distance, which would have accounted how the pirates were able to get close enough to shore to dock, by considering the size of their boat. Many treasure hunters have combed the dry ground area with metal detectors but found nothing of value. To my knowledge, nobody ever found the mass graves with all the bones or artifacts of pirates either. It was my understanding that the boat eventually broke up and sank somewhere off shore. Since it was a wooden boat, it too probably decomposed and people used the drift wood from what was left of it to burn for campfires not knowing of its origin.

For a short time, in the early 1900s houses were built and the area was inhabited, but in the mid 1900s they were eventually abandoned. There are old broken down slabs, water lines and evidences that people used to live here, but probably no more than 15-20 home slabs could be found. No cars or motor bikes are now allowed anymore. It is now a gated area and only monk seals, turtles and albatros birds inhabit the land. You may hike in the area, but because of the gates, no motorized vehicles are allowed. The lighthouse has fallen over (actually kids pushed it over about 20 or so years ago) and although as kids we could drive around to the Waianae coast line to go to work, we could camp and/or mountain climb in this area, the area now sits as a natural reservation. Most people that live in Hawaii don’t even know that this end of the island has had such a pirating history and unless you read this article/blog, neither would you.

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment or give me a
.

2 Comments:

  • Haleiwahi: Now imagine the history the next time you hold a gold coin from the 1800’s, especially a well worn gold coin. Did someone get killed during a card game over this coin? Have you ever seen a gold coin without a date on it? How much gold is burried on some island of the pacific or deep in the ocean still on a sunken ship? When will the tides finally bring it to shore? If you found one old coin on the shore line, would it inspire you to look for others? Collecting old coins is about as enjoyable a past time as one can imagine. Appreciating the collection is a gift.
  • Haleiwahi: Another interesting site is to list the various shipwrecks in the state of Hawaii check out this site. I don’t think it’s been updated since 1997 since there are no current wrecks posted, but it’s the oldies I’m looking for anyways. http://www.captainrick.com/shipwrecks.htm

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