Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ukumehame & McGregor Point

An ancient name for Maui is ʻIhikapalaumaēwa which is alluded to in the genealogical chant of “Mele a Pakuʻi”. The name infers sacred reverence and respect and the chant recounts how Wākea and Papa gave birth to the Hawaiian Islands. Maui was the second child born to Wākea and Papa and is the second largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago.  (Cultural Surveys)

In former times, Maui was also known as Kūlua, a probable reference to the East and West Maui districts, which were separate polities by A.D. 1400-1500.  The name Maui itself is said to come from the chief Mauiloa.   (Cultural Surveys)

Ukumehame Ahupua‘a, between the Lāhainā and Wailuku Districts was a fertile ahupua‘a that supported a large population with concentrations of people along the coastal area.  The fisheries and the ocean surrounding the area Ukumehame were so important that it also became a prominent canoe landing.  Ukumehame and Olowalu were the favored residencies of royalty (Nūpepa Kūʻokoʻa, 1865 – Rechtman)

Kealaloloa “long pathway” Ridge, as it name suggests, may have been the main travel route used during the prehistoric and early historic times to cross to the West Maui Mountain, with auxiliary trails once serving to connect the main travel route. This prominent landform ascends above the point below, which apparently represents the western extent of the coastal settlement.  (Rechtman)

“A new road had been made around the foot of the mountain, the crookedest, rockiest, ever traveled by mortals. Our party consisted of five adults and five children. We had but two horses. One of these was in a decline on starting; it gave out in a few miles.  … The wind from the other shore swept across it and was cooling us a little too rapidly after the intense heat of the day. To go farther without rest or aid was impossible.”  (Laura Fish Judd, 1841)

The trail was hand-built before 1825 for horseback and foot travel between Wailuku and Lāhainā; it served as the most direct route across the steep southern slopes of West Maui Mountain.  (By 1900, the Lāhainā Pali Trail fell out of use when prison laborers built a one-way dirt road along the base of the pali. In 1911, a three-ton truck was the first vehicle to negotiate this road, having a difficult time making some of the sharp, narrow turns.)

Ukumehame is noted for the strong winds that come from the uplands and blow to the sea. One kamaʻāina of Olowalu wrote this of the winds of Ukumehame and the surrounding wahi pana:
Hoomanu‘a i ke one o Awalua, konohikilua ka lā iā Olowalu, i ka lā‘i ka makani kahi ‘ao‘ao, Na Ukumehame ka nau o ka makani.
Pile the sands of Awalua, the sun is measured in Olowalu, during the day the wind is on one side, but to Ukumehame the wind escapes.  (Rectman)

The wind was so strong at times, that it would shred the sails of vessels trying to traverse the coastline by sea (as noted in Nūpepa Kūʻokoʻa, 1868:)  Ke holo nei ka moku a kūpono i Ukumehame, nānā aku i ka makani wili ko‘okai i ka moana, kahea mai ‘ia ke Kāpena i nā sela a pū‘ā i nā pe‘a, e hao mai ana ka makani pau nā pe‘a i ka nahaehae.
The ship sailed on until reaching just outside of Ukumehame, watching the strong whirling winds whipping the seas, the captain called out to the sailors to furl the sails, the wind was gusting and the sails were torn. (Rechtman)

It is in this setting in the 1870s that Daniel McGregor, an interisland trader delivering supplies and bound for Māʻalaea on a stormy night, was determined to find an alternative landing for the night.

McGregor sent sailors forward with lead lines to sound the water, while he scanned the shoreline for an adequate anchorage.  In the wee hours of the morning, when the winds diminished and the water became significantly shallower, McGregor ordered the anchor dropped for the night.

With the light of the morning, McGregor awoke to find that he had discovered an excellent cove with a protecting point.  The point, just over a mile southwest of Māʻalaea Bay, continues to bear his name.

In 1877, Wilder Steamship Company initiated passenger and freight service between the Hawaiian Islands.  At that time, there were few navigational aids, so the steamship company was forced to erect lighted beacons for the safety of its own vessels.

One of these private aids was placed at Māʻalaea Bay in the 1880s and was an ordinary lantern, fitted with red glass and displayed from a post.  In 1903, land was acquired on McGregor Point and a light was placed on the point to replace the one at Māʻalaea.  This was later upgraded in 1915.

The area is known for another famous landing.  On February 18, 1881, The “Beta” under the command of Captain Christian L’Orange, an early plantation owner who was commissioned by King Kalākaua to bring 600-Scandinavian immigrants who had signed on to work in the booming sugar plantations.

McGregor Point Lookout is a popular vantage point for seeing humpback whales from land. From here, you have a sweeping view of the ocean.  Humpback whales arrive in Hawaiʻi over a six-month period, with the best viewing months from mid-December through mid-April.

The image shows whales from McGregor Point (cphamrah.)  In addition, I have added related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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