Doubtful Island of the Pacific
By the 1850s, both Honolulu and Lahaina, on the island of Maui, had become the busiest ports for American whaling ships sailing in the Pacific Ocean. Hilo, on the Island of Hawaiʻi, was another important port. Whale oil was the main source of fuel oil for illumination. At the time, it was also the best industrial lubricant for machinery.
The Levant, an 18-gun second-class sloop-of-war, had been sent to Hawaiʻi at the request of the State Department. The disappearance of the Levant, with 210 aboard, was the second worst marine disaster in Hawaiian history. A ship’s mast drifted ashore, just below the harbor of Kawalunalu (Kaʻaluʻalu,) in Kaʻu (near Kamilo.)