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The Shipwreck Bar

The Shipwreck Bar was a social center of the village.  It was a place where guests and bartenders “talked story”--visited--with one another and formed friendships that lasted many years.  There’s an interesting story of how the bar came to be.  Founder Jonno Jackson sailed up and down the coast in his schooner, New Moon, looking for a suitable place to build his dream of a Polynesian village, and when he sailed into Kahuai Bay, he saw the possibilities in an abandoned Hawaiian village, still with many traces of an old civilization (carefully preserved, by the way).  The eruption of 1800-01 had spilled lava down the mountainside but it had spared the site itself, flowing past the north side, and creating acres of new land for the island.  He secured a lease on the land, and started building the hale. 

One evening, Jonno and his wife decided to stay ashore and help someone celebrate a birthday.  When they went ashore, they left the bilge pump running.  Later on the pump ran out of gas, and began siphoning instead of pumping.  Next morning the boat was sitting on the bottom of the bay, with just its masts sticking up.

They managed to refloat it, and were to take it to another island where refitting could be done, but as they started to tow it, a strong wind came up and began blowing both boats toward the rocks, so they had to cut the New Moon loose.  It was blown across the bay and dashed on the rocks beyond repair.

They’d planned to build a swimming pool in the area of the Hale Samoa, and decided that the boat would make a wonderful and symbolic bar for the pool.  So they tried to drag it, but it was simply too heavy.  They took out the engine and keel (which today still lie on the rocks, rusting away), but even then it couldn’t be moved.  They cut it down the middle, and with great difficulty were able to drag it a few hundred feet, but it was still a long way from the ultimate destination.

At that point that they made what turned out to be a brilliant decision: They’d build the pool where the boat sat rather than trying to get the boat to where they were intending to build the pool.

The New Moon went through many transformations.  It was refinished, and a roof was added to protect guests from the sun, but alas, only the sun (see the picture, left, with Bob Kono and one of the then GM’s beautiful daughters).  It was later that a (more or less) waterproof roof was built so that clients wouldn’t have to scurry to shelter if it started raining, but could ride out the shower, eating popcorn and washing it down with their favorite tipple.

As a bar, the boat had many problems--storage of liquor was awkward for the bartenders, and there weren’t convenient places for storage of other things.  Some consultants had suggested replacing it with a proper bar, but the thought was utterly inconceivable to those us who’d spent many happy hours watching the whales and enjoying each others’ company.

It was a bar, after all, and you had to be 21 to sit at it, but you didn’t have to drink alcohol to be a welcome participant. I went on the wagon, yet I was still warmly greeted with a virgin whatever and free popcorn when I opened things up at 11:00AM.  I tried not to be the first one of the day to sight a whale, because it was only fair to yield the free drink to someone who liked mai-tais.  In times when school was out, the young folks lined up for their daily tot of lava flows, cookie monsters, and popcorn. (But they didn’t sit at the bar.)

I said that the Shipwreck was a social center for the village, and it was a wonderful thing to see guests visiting with other guests, laughing, enjoying the magnificent setting.  And so many first timers, so many of them honeymooners. And so many already making plans to return.

Long timers settled in for a whale watch

Betsy, Melissa, and Lynn.

Daughter Diana and Son-in-law Ken

Denise & Alec

Denise & Dan