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Honolulu Harbor, HI Shore-Boat JANUARY Capsizes, Sep 1891



Friday morning the harbor was the scene of a disastrous accident which cost two Chinamen their lives. Four Chinamen hired the shore-boat January to go out to the steamer Belgic to visit friends on board. On the way back LAU NIU, who was steering, persisted in running the boat too near the breakers -- trying to make a short cut. The boatboy, MANUEL KAAUA, says that he warned him repeatedly, but without effect. The boat was caught in the breakers and capsized. Two of the Chinese, LAU NIU and TOM FAT, could not swim and were drowned. The others clung to the boat until they were rescued. AHO, a Chinese rice planter, who was one of the four, says that he made repeated efforts to save LAU NIU. The latter grasped him by the foot and drew him under the water, so that he only saved himself with difficulty.
Efforts were made during the afternoon to recover the bodies, and shortly after 3 o'clock that of LAU NIU was found. Large rewards were offered by the Chinamen, but all efforts to find the second body were fruitless. Late in the afternoon native divers were out again, $25 having been offered for the search -- whether anything was found or not.
They found the sharks had gathered in great numbers. Watching for a favorable opportunity, the daring divers again went down and brought up torn fragments of clothing, which told only too plainly their own hideous story.
The first effort made to recover the bodies was by the diver Pelehu, under the direction of D. L. Mahuka, who had been ordered by the Marshal to make the search. He went out about noon, but at 2:30, having found nothing, gave it up.
The second attempt was made by Plaile, Kanakaole and Lulualei. They kept inside the bell buoy, and dove all together at even distances apart. Lulualei, who was the furthest makai, saw the body of LAU NIU first, and backoned to the others under the water to approach. The object of this was to scare the sharks, who are less likely to attack three men than one. The moment they had raised the body and got it into the boat, half a dozen ground sharks rose around them.
The drowned men were merchants of good standing well known in Chinese business circles.

Hawaiian Gazette Honolulu 1891-09-29

article | by Dr. Radut