The Wandia was built in Denmark in 1921 as a three-masted schooner. Captain Peterson used her to haul general cargo in the Baltic for some 30 years. She then had a few years of service as a commercial fishing boat in Iceland, and later hauled cargo in Central America.
In 1964, Robert Tucker Thompson (‘Tucker’) flew to Costa Rica to deliver a yacht back to Newport Beach. Sailing up the coast of Central America, there were stories of a Baltic trading schooner that was just ahead.
“Wandia” was anchored in Acapulco; when Tucker arrived, he was interested in the boat and the owner was considering selling. … Several months later, the ship arrived in San Diego and the deal was done. (Tucker’s father worked as a film processor in the movie industry.)
Then the ship needed to go to work. Tucker sent letters and photos to all the film studios. A film of James Michener’s 1959 book “Hawaii” was about to be made by Mirisch. The studio had one ship, but also needed a whaling ship. Tucker and the production entered into a purchase/re-purchase agreement.
Re-rigging took place in San Pedro harbor (LA) in a rushed ‘Hollywood‘ manner – dismantling and building taking place almost simultaneously. The “Wandia” was then named the “Carthaginian” (the name James Michener gave the whaling boat in his novel). (Tucker)
“In addition to changed rigging, the Carthaginian also had the special equipment necessary to a whaling career installed. Such things as the small boats used to harpoon whales …”
“… as well as lookout hoops for sighting their quarry, equipment for removing blubber, and many other items, were added. At the same time, the entire hull was completely checked and repairs or replacements effected.” (McConkey)
The original script eliminated the arrival of the New England missionaries in Hawaii, a key element of the original story, but include Rev. Abner Hale and his wife, Jerusha (Max Von Sydow and Julie Andrews), a missionary couple.
An October 24, 1964 news conference in Honolulu announced the production would be filmed in Hawaii. Filming for the movie began February 22, 1965, about as far from the islands as one can be: 150 miles above the Arctic Circle, off Bodo, Norway. In the spring, filming moved to New England. (McWhorter, Star Advertiser)
On June 9, 1965, filming began on Oahu at an Army facility at Makua. Most of the production crew stayed at the brand-new Ilikai Hotel; the lead actors rented homes on Diamond Head Road and Kahala Avenue.
The Mirisch Corp. brought 168 people from Hollywood to Hawaii for filming and hired 200 local technicians and 700 local residents as extras. Ten locals were cast to portray missionaries, among them Bette Midler, a 1963 Radford High School graduate.
The theme song of “Hawaii” eventually was altered to become the longtime KGMB jingle, “One of the good things about Hawaii … is wonderful … KGMB.”
A combination of wind, rain, sun, sand, dirt and military helicopters buzzing above delayed production an extra month at Makua.
Filming concluded on Oahu on November 10, 1965. (McWhorter, Star Advertiser)
When filming finished and the movie company no longer needed the ship, the re-purchase option was executed. Tucker and family moved aboard and took on crew for a trip around the Islands and to California, with plans for a South Pacific cruise.
While anchored off Lahaina, Larry Windley, director of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, urged the members to consider purchasing the ship for a museum; by the time the ship reached Hilo, representatives had arrived there with a proposal ready for signing, to take effect when the South Pacific cruise had finished.
“Carthaginian” continued on to the west coast. Then, arrangements were made for the voyage of the “Carthaginian” to the Marquesas, Society Islands and Hawaii. (Tucker)
“The first Carthaginian owned and operated by the restoration foundation as a floating museum since 1966 when it was purchased for $75,000, had been rigged out to represent a three-masted bark, similar to the type that brought the early missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands.”
A few years later, tragedy struck; the Carthaginian “sank in April 1972 after it was caught on a reef in the Lahaina channel while being sailed to Honolulu for an annual dry-dock checkup.” (Star Bulletin, April 9, 1977)
“Efforts to save her were given up when it was discovered that the ship had a 12-foot hole in its hull and a broken keel. … the 51-year-old- ship will be towed out to sea where it will be sunk.” Star Bulletin, April 4, 1972)
“Efforts to find a replacement for the vessel were begun immediately. The search lasted several months and involved a hunt in shipyards around the world until the discovery of what was considered the perfect replacement.”
“The new Carthaginian, a 52-year old cargo ship named the Komet was found in Trollhatten, Sweden and purchased by the foundation for $25,000.” (Star Bulletin, April 9, 1977)
Carthaginian II was a 97-foot steel-hulled sailing boat that was converted into a replica whaling ship and floating museum to replace the popular Carthaginian tourist attraction.
A big point was made that she was exactly the same size as the ‘Thaddeus,’ the brig that brought the first missionaries to Hawaii from Boston. Visitors were invited to imagine what it must have been like for the missionaries, tossing across the waves for many months crammed inside her.
The boat was built in 1920 in Kiel, Germany at the Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft shipyard and was once run as a two-master. Later the boat was converted to diesel power and in the Baltic Sea used as a freighter for cement.
She was renamed Carthaginian II and restored over several years. Masts made of spruce, a deck of eucalyptus, and other details for a whaling supply ship of the 19th century were installed.
Upon completion of the renovations, the Carthaginian II served as a floating museum in Lahaina Harbor from 1978 to 2001. (Atlantis Artificial Reef FEA)
But age caught up with her, finally. It was decided that refurbishing the old ship was cost-prohibitive and, anyway, she would probably not survive being towed to Oahu for the repairs. Meanwhile, she was becoming a potential safety hazard sitting in the harbor. (Maui 24/7)
In 2003, the Lahaina Restoration Society asked Atlantis Submarine Maui, a tour company featuring underwater ocean tours, for help in exploring whether she could be used as an artificial reef off the Lahaina coast. The company, which had been offering submarine tours off Lahaina since 1991, agreed. (Maui 24/7)
After permitting, then came the sinking of Carthaginian II … In 2005, the boat was towed half a mile away from the coast and sunk to create an artificial reef, and now stands at a water depth of about 100-feet and also serves as a destination for diving expeditions.