Pacific Northwest News
An Historic Olympic Peninsula Shipwreck Sets the Stage for Russia's Adventure in Hawai`i ~~ Part 2
By Chris Cook
The story so far: The Sv. Nikolai, a Russian American Company schooner out of Sitka, shipwrecked on November 1, 1808 on the Pacific Coast near LaPush on the West End of the Olympic Peninsula. The shipwreck is notable for Anna Petranova, a Russian woman onboard, became the first known western woman to set foot in the lands of today’s Washington State. And notable for Hawai‘i, as the schooner was originally named Tamana and built for Kamehameha’s planned, but never launched, armed invasion of Kaua‘i in 1805.
A Russian Promyshlennik (mountain man-type expert fur hunter) became a hero in protecting surviving members of the schooner’s crew who faced enslavement and other hardships in their sojourn on the Pacific Coast of the Olympic Peninsula. His name was Timothei Tarakanov. Tarakanov and his party of Russians and Aleut hunters and crewmen were ransomed from the Makah Tribe in the Cape Flattery area in 1810 by an American sea captain named Brown. (Read Part 1 of this story at www.northwesthawaiitimes.com December 08)
Moving forward in time to 1815, the Nikolai shipwreck and its cast of characters takes on a new connection to the history of Hawai‘i.
In 1815 the Russian American Company ship Bering, carrying a cargo of valuable seal skins bound for Sitka, washed up on the beach at Waimea, Kaua‘i, a victim of fickle Kona winds blowing in January. The seal furs were carefully stored by Kaumuali‘i, the ali‘i nui of Kaua‘i. An English-speaking German ship’s doctor in the service of the Russian American Company, Greorg Scheffer, was sent to recover the furs.
Scheffer was on a covert mission aimed at possibly establishing a Russian colony in Hawai‘i, that succeeded at first by convincing Kamehameha on the Big Island, that he was a botanist. Kamehameha gradually became leery of Scheffer, and the doctor moved on to Honolulu. There three Russian ships arrived over the spring and summer of 1816, and Scheffer moved on to Kaua‘i, one with Tarakanov, the hero of the Nikolai incident, aboard. The Kad’iak, the companion ship to the Nikolai in 1808, is one of the ships. On January 20, 1817 a Russian schooner arrives at Kaua‘i. Amazingly three ties to the Nikolai shipwreck now cross paths on the shore of Waimea.
Tarakanov notes in a report to Sitka: “I boarded the ship and found that it was the Cossack and its captain a Mr. Brown. I had known him before, in 1810, when he rescued me from captivity.”
Brown brought letters from Sitka including instructions for all to return to Sitka. Scheffer’s ruse caught up with him months later and he was forced to flee Waimea where Kaua‘i workers had built a fort along Russian lines. He sailed aboard the Kad’iak with Tarakanov for Hanalei Bay, which Kaumuali‘i had deeded to him.
In a skirmish with local warriors, an Aleut was killed and the Kad’iak moved on to Honolulu, leaking about two feet of sea water per hour. In late June 1817 the Kad’iak anchored off the fort at Honolulu, an area known today as Fort Street. Warnings about the Russians seeking to colonize Hawai‘i caught the ear of Kamehameha. American sea captains told the ali‘i that America was at war with Russia to fan the fire, and to protect their edge in the sandalwood trade.
For days the Kad’iak was forced to stand off the fort, on the verge of sinking. Finally permission was given to land the decaying hulk of a ship, but only after muskets, swords and cannons were given up. The ship sailed towards shore, its Russian flag hung upside down in distress. The Americans saw the flag as a slap to their nation. It just happened to be the Fourth of July and barrages of red rockets greeted the Kad’iak upon its safe arrival.
Scheffer fortuitously found a berth on an American ship heading out immediately for Canton, leaving Tarakanov behind and responsible for the lives of a large party of Russians and Aleuts.
Once again, the brave, akamai fur hunter carried the day, leading the way to safety on a hostile shore alongside a beached, wrecked ship with no sure way home to Sitka. He cut a deal with an American sea captain: I’ll supply the sea otter hunters, you supply the ship and together we’ll poach sea otter furs along the California coast. The plan worked and Tarakanov and his people made it home safely.
Not so fortunate was the Kad’iak. The hull lay beached for good, its cannons unloaded and mounted at the nearby Honolulu fort. In this way, the Kad'iak completed the Tamana's circle, ending its days where the fast-sailing schooner began hers.
Chris Cook is a kama‘aina on a Northwest interlude, serving as editor and publisher of the Forks Forum out in “Twilight” country on the West End of the Olympic Peninsula. He is the former editor of The Garden Island newspaper on Kaua‘i and a graduate of the University of Hawai‘i. A long-time surfer on the north shores of O‘ahu and Kaua‘i, he occasionally rides West End waves.
Source: Hawai‘i’s Russian Adventure by Peter Mills and Russia's Hawaiian Adventure, 1815-1817 by Richard A. Pierce .
By Kimo Ahia
Wow! The southeast corner of Washington now has some ono grinds at the Tiki Teriyaki Grille, located just across Rose Avenue from the Blue Mountain Mall. At 205 Wildwood, the grill is open 11am to 7pm Tuesday to Saturday.
Melissa Locati and Patti Cordeiro, sisters, gave up nursing to follow their dream of having a restaurant. Patti’s husband, Donnie Cordeiro, has `ohana rooted on Oahu that have all chipped in (kōkua) with recipes and other stuff. They moved a former bank building on to the site and took their time in setting up. With Hawaii momentos on the walls, specially carved honu (turtles) swimming to the sky along the skylight dome, one is transported back to Hawaii in spirit. Add the nahenahe (soothing) Hawaiian music in the background, auwe….where is the pūne’e (sofa)? If only Aunty Genoa was performing here!
BUT, the main thing is the grinds (food)! Was soooo `ono that this kanaka wanted to try all but each regular sized order was plenty. For sure I would have hard time with the large size, island combo or worse, the Big Kahuna trio. With teriyaki beef and chicken, kalbi ribs, Korean wings, Loco Moco, Kalua pig, Mac salad, plus rice; the `ōpū gonna pop! The vegan special of grilled tofu with teriyaki or garlic sauce and sauteed veggies on the side is a big favorite too! With Hawaiian Sun drinks on the side or genuine Shave Ice, time to sleep! Oh yeah, even get Spam musubi!
This kanaka was soooo happy that the coconut wireless was clicking the news to every islander about the joint. Now we have a place to hang out and talk story. The added bonus of meeting two other Hawaiian wahines enjoying the kaukau and living here in the valley was like Christmas already!
So no forget, when you come to Walla Walla for the wines, come to Tiki Teriyaki Grille for the ono kaukau/grinds/chow/food!
Kimo Ahia comes from the Big Island of Hawai`i but now makes his home in Walla Walla, Washington.
During the holidays (with record-breaking snowfall,) Northwest Hawai`i Times received many warm greetings from you. Here are a few of them:
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