It’s not about automobiles – this is the area where ships anchor off Lāhainā.
Lāhainā Roads, also called the Lāhainā Roadstead is a channel of the Pacific Ocean in the Hawaiian Islands. The surrounding islands of Maui and Lānaʻi (and to a lesser extent, Molokaʻi and Kahoʻolawe) make it a sheltered anchorage.
The central location of the Hawaiian Islands between the continent and Japan whaling grounds brought many whaling ships to the Islands. Whalers needed food and the islands supplied this need from its fertile lands.
Between the 1820s and the 1860s, the Lāhainā Roadstead was the principal anchorage of the American Pacific whaling fleet. During that time, up to 1,500 sailors at a time were on the streets of the small town.
One reason why so many whalers preferred Lāhainā to other ports was that by anchoring in a roadstead from half a mile to a mile from shore they could control their crews better than when in a harbor.
“This mountain barrier (West Maui Mountains) shuts off the trade wind, and Lahaina roadstead is as smooth as the proverbial millpond, though a brief time may bring the sailor to a wind-tossed portion of Neptune’s domain of a very different finality.” (The Friend, April 1903)
“Four channels lead into this inland sea, from the north, from the west, from the south, and from the southeast, and each has its own significant name. The islands which make these channels are seen most comprehensively from the hill back of the town – Molokai on the right, stretching westward; Lanai directly in front, blocking the ocean on the southwest; and Kahoolawe, long and low, on the left, running southwestward.” (The Friend, April 1903)
“The anchorage being an open roadstead, vessels can always approach or leave it with any wind that blows. No pilot is needed here. Vessels generally approach through the channel between Maui and Molokai, standing well over to Lanai, as far as the trade will carry them, then take the sea breeze, which sets in during the forenoon, and head for the town.” (The Friend, April 30, 1857)
“The anchorage is about ten miles in extent along the shore and from within a cable’s length of the reef in seven fathoms of water, to a distance of three miles out with some twenty-five fathoms, affording abundant room for as large a fleet as can ever be collected here.” (The Friend, April 30, 1857)
“I shall never forget the finest sight of ships under sail I ever saw. It was a beautiful Sabbath morning at Lahaina. A very few ships were anchored off our place. The familiar cry of “Kail O!” was early heard and a glance towards the point towards Molokai revealed a ship under full sail coming down the channel.” (Paradise of the Pacific, 1906 – referring to 1851-1861)
“It was soon followed by another and another until the increasing numbers ceased to be numbered. It was a fine sight as they came into view. As if some common agreement they had all agreed to make the port the same time. They had come from the Arctic and the Okhotsk sea”. (Paradise of the Pacific, 1906 – referring to 1851-1861)
After whaling ended, the Roadstead continued to be used.
Since the 1930s, the US Navy had been using the Lāhainā roadstead between Maui and Lānaʻi as a protected deepwater anchorage for fleet deployment.
While the support facilities were limited on land, the location offered a convenient alternative to the crowded Pearl Harbor for temporary fleet basing.
Through the 1940s, Lāhainā Roads was as an alternative anchorage to Pearl Harbor.
While planning for the attack on the US Pacific Fleet, Japanese planners hoped that some significant units would be at anchor there because with Lāhainā’s deep water, those elements of the Pacific Fleet in all likelihood would never have been recovered.
The possibility that the Pacific Fleet would be at Lāhainā anchorage was taken seriously in the plan of the Japanese naval strike force for the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Scout planes were dispatched from the fleet, and submarines were sent to Lāhainā Roads to inspect the anchorage. (The ships were at Pearl Harbor.)
The image shows Lāhainā as seen from Lahainaluna – (portion of Lahainaluna engraving – Mission Houses) – 1838. In addition, I have added other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.
In lawaiʻa hi aku (fishing for aku,) “the slapping of the fish against the men’s sides and the arching of the bamboo poles as the aku bent them were like a double rainbow or the crescent shape of the moon of Hoaka.” (Maly)
A special canoe was used that served as a live bait well (malau,) it was joined by a double hulled canoe for the fishers (kaulua;) following the noio birds to the schooling aku, several canoes would form around them and the live bait released – then the lines of the bamboo fishing poles were cast. (Maly)
When the fish took the bait and broke water, the fisherman stood up straight and grasped the pole with both hands. The fish came completely out of the water and slapped against the side of the fisherman, who then shoved the aku forward in the canoe and cast again. (Maly)
In 1899, Gorokichi Nakasugi, a Japanese shipwright, brought a traditional Japanese sailing vessel, called a sampan, to Hawai‘i, and this led to a unique class of vessels and distinctive maritime culture associated with the rise of the commercial fishing industry in Hawai‘i. (Cultural Surveys)
The Japanese technique of catching tuna with pole-and-line and live bait resembled the aku fishing method traditionally used by Hawaiians. The pole-and-line vessels mainly targeted skipjack tuna (aku.)
In the modern fleet, with an average length of 75- to 90-feet, these boats were the largest of the sampans. The pole-and-line fleet generally fished within a few miles of the main Hawaiian Islands, because few vessels carried ice and the catch needed to be landed within four to five hours from the time of capture.
The modern fishing method used live bait thrown from a fishing vessel to stimulate a surface school into a feeding frenzy. Fishing was then conducted frantically to take advantage of the limited time the school remains near the boat.
The pole and line were about 10-feet and used a barbless hook with feather skirts which is slapped against the water until a fish strikes. Then the fish is yanked into the vessel in one motion. The fish unhooks when the line is slacked so that the process can be repeated.
On a pole-and-line vessel a fisherman was required to learn how to cast the line, jerk the fish out of the water, catch the tuna under his left arm, snap the barbless hook out, slide the fish into the hold and cast the line back out – all in rapid succession.
The fishery was dependent on having sufficient bait fish, nehu (Hawaiian anchovy;) a lot of the bait fish, came from Kāneʻohe Bay. Dozens of aku boats would set their nets in the Bay’s shallows; the pier at Heʻeia Kea Boat Harbor was homeport for more than 20 of them.
Initially, most sampans docked in Honolulu Harbor. In the 1920s, Kewalo Basin was constructed and by the 1930s was the main berthing area for the sampan fleet and also the site of the tuna cannery, fish auction, shipyard, ice plant, fuel dock and other shore-side facilities.
The Hawaiʻi skipjack tuna fishery originally supplied only the local market for fresh and dried tuna. Then, the Hawaiian Tuna Packers, Ltd. cannery was established (in 1916,) enabling the fishery to expand beyond a relatively small fresh and dried market.
Six sampans made up the cannery’s initial fleet. The fleet grew and before WWII the fishery included up to 26 vessels. Following the war, as new vessels were built, fleet size increased to a maximum of 32 vessels in 1948.
These vessels carried crews of 7-9 fishermen, and frequently worked 6 days a week. It was hard work and the fishing day may begin with catching bait fish at dawn, followed by fishing to dusk.
Historically, the pole-and-line, live bait fishery for skipjack tuna (aku) was the largest commercial fishery in Hawaiʻi. Annual pole-and-line landings of skipjack tuna exceeded 5.5 million lb from 1937 to 1973.
The new and expanding market for canned product allowed the fishery to grow; from 1937 until the early 1980s most of the skipjack tuna landed in Hawaiʻi was canned.
F Walter Macfarlane opened the Macfarlane Tuna Company at Ala Moana and Cooke street. By 1922, after having changed hands a couple times, the company was incorporated by local stockholders as Hawaiian Tuna Packers Ltd.
Around 1928, tuna processing started in Kewalo Basin. Nearby was the Kewalo Shipyard that serviced and repaired the local aku boats. They also had an ice house.
From the beginning, Hawaiian Tuna Packers label was Coral Tuna or Coral Hawaiian Brand Tuna.
By the 1930s, the Honolulu cannery employed 500 and produced nearly ten-million cans of tuna per year. For several years Hawaiian Tuna Packers also operated a smaller cannery in Hilo.
About ninety percent of the output was shipped to the mainland; the remaining ten percent was sold in Hawaiʻi. (The cans for packing the tuna are furnished by the Dole Company.)
Fishing stopped during WWII because the larger sampans were used by the military for patrol duties and the Japanese fishermen were not allowed to go to sea. (Wilson)
With the entry of the United States in the Second World War came the imposition of area and time restrictions on fishing activities in Hawai’i that virtually eliminated offshore harvesting operations. Many fishing boats were requisitioned by the Army or Navy. (Schug)
The tuna cannery was converted into a plant for the assembly of airplane auxiliary fuel tanks and the shipyard was converted to the maintenance of military craft. Hawaiʻi’s fishing industry was forever changed. (Schug)
In 1960, Castle & Cooke bought out Hawaiian Tuna Packers and made it a part of Bumble Bee Seafoods out of the northwest. They operated the cannery until late-1984, when it ultimately closed.
The image shows aku boat fishing (SOEST.)
I suspect many people would believe the occasional glass fishing float found on our shores is strictly a Japanese and Pacific Ocean phenomenon.
Actually, the first glass fishing floats probably came from Norway and were used in the Atlantic. From 1762 to 1880, a Norwegian glass company was in business and it is believed they were producing glass floats as early as the late-1700s.
The first time these “modern” glass fishing floats are mentioned is in the production registry for Hadelands Glassverk in 1841. The registry shows that this is a new type of production.
However, there might have been some other versions of glass floats in use before that time. In the early 19th-century, the Schimmelmanns Glassverk (1779–1832) produced dark brown and very thick, bottle glass floats.
Aasnaes Glasvaerk, in business from 1813 to 1883, produced 122,493 glass floats just in the year 1875. A glass float with Aasnaes’s mark on the seal button is a collector’s item.
Early evidence of glass floats being used by fishermen comes from Norway in 1844, where small egg-sized floats were used with fishing line and hooks. Around the same time, glass was also used to support fishing nets.
The Japanese started producing small glass floats in the early-1900s and the first Asian floats came ashore along the West Coast just before 1920.
These Japanese floats are part of early recycling efforts – initial Japanese floats we made from recycled sake bottles. Most floats are shades of green because that is the color of glass from these sake bottles (especially after long exposure to sunlight).
Other brilliant tones such as emerald green, cobalt blue, purple, yellow and orange were primarily made in the 1920s and 1930s. The most prized and rare color is a red or cranberry hue.
To accommodate different fishing styles and nets, the Japanese experimented with many different sizes and shapes of floats, ranging from 2 to 20 inches in diameter. Most were rough spheres, but some were cylindrical or “rolling pin” shaped.
Asahara Glass Company had several factories and made a variety of sizes. Asahara made baseball- to orange-size floats for tako jigs, salmon gillnetting and seine fishing; grapefruit-size floats for seine and long-line cod fishing; basketball-size for tuna operations, bottom trawls and crab trapping; and the small rolling pin floats were used for tako jigs and troll fishing.
The earliest floats, including most Japanese glass fishing floats, were hand made by a glassblower. Recycled glass, especially old sake bottles, was typically used and air bubbles in the glass are a result of the rapid recycling process.
After being blown, floats were removed from the blowpipe and sealed with a “button” of melted glass before being placed in a cooling oven. This sealing button is sometimes mistakenly identified as a pontil mark (scar where the punt was broken from a work of blown glass.) However, no pontil (or punty) was used in the process of blowing glass floats.
While floats were still hot and soft, marks were often embossed on or near the sealing button to identify the float for trademark. These marks sometimes included kanji symbols.
A later manufacturing method used wooden molds to speed up the float-making process. Glass floats were blown into a mold to more easily achieve a uniform size and shape.
Seams on the outside of floats are a result of this process. Sometimes knife markings where the wooden molds were carved are also visible on the surface of the glass.
By 1939, millions of Japanese glass floats were being used; although Japanese glass fishing floats are no longer being manufactured for fishing, there are thousands still floating in the Pacific Ocean.
By the 1940s, glass had replaced wood or cork throughout much of Europe, Russia, North America and Japan.
Today most of the glass floats remaining in the ocean are stuck in a circular pattern of ocean currents in the North Pacific Gyre.
Off the east coast of Taiwan, the Kuroshio Current starts as a northern branch of the western-flowing North Equatorial Current. It flows past Japan and meets the arctic waters of the Oyashio Current.
At this junction, the North Pacific Current (or Drift) is formed which travels east across the Pacific before slowing down in the Gulf of Alaska.
As it turns south, the California Current pushes the water into the North Equatorial Current once again, and the cycle continues.
Although the number of glass floats is decreasing steadily, many floats are still drifting on these ocean currents. Occasionally, storms or certain tidal conditions will break some floats from this circular pattern and bring them to ashore.
They most often end up on the beaches of Hawaiʻi, Alaska, Washington or Oregon in the United States, Taiwan or Canada.
Today, most of the remaining glass floats originated in Japan because it had a large deep sea fishing industry which made extensive use of the floats; some were made by Taiwan, Korea and China.
When whaling was strong in the Pacific (starting in 1819 and running to 1859,) Hawaiʻi’s central location between America and Japan whaling grounds brought many whaling ships to the Islands. Whalers needed food and the islands supplied this need from its fertile lands.
In those days, European and East Coast continental commerce needed to round Cape Horn of South America to get to the Pacific (although the Arctic northern route was shorter and sometimes used, it could mean passage in cold and stormy seas, and in many cases the shorter distance might take longer and cost more than the southern route.)
As trade and commerce expanded across the Pacific, numerous countries were looking for faster passage and many looked to Nicaragua and Panama in Central America for possible dredging of a canal as a shorter, safer passage between the two Oceans.
Finally, in 1881, France started construction of a canal through the Panama isthmus. By 1899, after thousands of deaths (primarily due to yellow fever) and millions of dollars, they abandoned the project and sold their interest to the United States.
After Panamanian independence from Colombia in 1903, the US restarted construction of the canal in 1905. Finally, the first complete Panama Canal passage by a self-propelled, oceangoing vessel took place on January 7, 1914.
The Panama Canal is a 51-mile ship canal in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean (via the Caribbean Sea) to the Pacific Ocean. The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. The American Society of Civil Engineers named the Panama Canal one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
The first cargo ship passing westward through the Panama Canal to call at Honolulu was the American Hawaiian Steamship Company’s SS Missourian commanded by Captain Wm. Lyons, on September 16, 1914.
By 2008, more than 815,000 vessels had passed through the canal, many of them much larger than the original planners could have envisioned; the largest ships that can transit the canal today are called Panamax.
OK, so what does this have to do with Hawaiʻi?
In 1893, the Rev. Sereno Bishop of Hawaiʻi spoke of the commercial relationship between Hawaiʻi and the future isthmian canal: “Honolulu is directly in the route of a future part of heavy traffic from the Atlantic to the Pacific which is waiting for the creation of a canal. Trade to and from China and Japan will use the canal route.”
“Impending commerce using the future canal will have serious importance to the political relations of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Honolulu will be a convenient port of call for China-bound California steamers.”
“The opening of the canal will increase Hawaii’s importance as a coaling and general calling station. Tremendous new cargoes of supplies that will cross the Pacific, because of the canal, will need shelter and protection at a common port of supply – Honolulu.” (Historic Hawaii Review)
In 1900, Alfred Thayer Mahan, a US Navy flag officer, geostrategist and historian (called “the most important American strategist of the nineteenth century,”) believed that the American line of communications to the Orient was by way of Nicaragua and Panama, as that of Europe was by the Suez.
Mahan saw that the Caribbean, areas surrounding the future canal, Hawaiʻi and the Philippines composed the strategic outposts for the future isthmian canal.
Mahan also stated, “Whether the canal of the Central American isthmus be eventually at Panama or Nicaragua matters little to the question at hand…. Whichever it be, the convergence there of so many ships from the Atlantic and Pacific will constitute a centre of commerce”. (Hawaii Historical Review)
In 1912, this strategy and declaration was claimed in an article in ‘Paradise of the Pacific’ that Hawaiʻi was truly deserving of the name, “Crossroads of the Pacific”.
The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaiʻi promoted the idea, naming its early-1900s official publication “Honolulu At the Crossroads of the Pacific.”
Testimony in Washington, DC, in 1915, noted that the opening of the canal would affect Hawaiʻi in two ways: traffic to and from the Orient would use Hawaiʻi as a way-station for supplies and instructions; and Hawaiʻi would also be a destination for freight, passengers and tourists.
Later, when Navy Commander John Rodgers and his crew arrived in Hawaiʻi on September 10, 1925 on the first trans-Pacific air flight, they fueled the imaginations of Honolulu businessmen and government officials who dreamed of making Hawaiʻi the economic Crossroads of the Pacific, and saw commercial aviation as another road to that goal.
Two years later on March 21, 1927, Hawaii’s first airport was established in Honolulu and dedicated to Rodgers.
1959 brought two significant actions that shaped the present day make-up of Hawai‘i, (1) Statehood and (2) jet-liner service between the mainland US and Honolulu (Pan American Airways Boeing 707.)
The image shows the former Kau Kau Corner restaurant Crossroads sign. In addition, I have included other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.