Rolling Down to Old Maui
April 22, 2015 6:29 AM   Subscribe

For decades, Maui was the whaling capital of the world. Whalers descended upon the islands in vast numbers as a port of supply and resting in between six-month jaunts to the Arctic North. The Candian and American whalers influenced Hawaiian culture, of course, bringing potato farming and prostitution in their wake. But the transfer wasn't all one way--Hawaiian-born whalers visited Nantucket, and Nantucket papers certainly reported on Hawaiian politics.
posted by sciatrix (12 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The immortal Stan Rogers, for those who wondered about the post title
posted by briank at 6:35 AM on April 22, 2015 [6 favorites]

Also fun: a rather different rendition of the song by Cordelia's Dad. It was this version that first taught me the connection between Hawai`i and whaling.
posted by foldedfish at 6:46 AM on April 22, 2015

There's a history of Hawaiians settling on Salt Spring Island, off the west coast of Canada, in the mid-to-late 19th century as well. The community is gone but the past lives on in place names (especially the number of places with "Kanaka" in their name).
posted by Emanuel at 6:52 AM on April 22, 2015

The second link is pretty weak and I believe that whalers weren't the ranching influence so much as the 1849 gold rush -- there was a period during which the population of California was growing so fast that beef was primarily supplied by ranches in Hawaiʻi. Yum!
posted by barnacles at 7:16 AM on April 22, 2015

Oh, I was trying to remember the name of this song the other day. Interesting to know some more about the situation surrounding it.
posted by curious nu at 7:45 AM on April 22, 2015

For a fascinating read on the history of whaling in the United States check out Leviathan: A History of Whaling in America.
posted by misterpatrick at 8:10 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

From the liner notes on that Cordelia's Dad CD: "All the songs on this album are about death, except this one, which is about going to Hawaii."
posted by ostro at 8:42 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

The obligatory Queequeg...
posted by jim in austin at 9:45 AM on April 22, 2015

It is a great thrill to be out in the water there and see humpbacks breeching 50 yards or so further out.
posted by Danf at 10:13 AM on April 22, 2015

Whales can pants each other?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:46 AM on April 22, 2015

If you ever go to Maui, I recommend the Whaler's Museum, which is semi-hidden in a shopping complex you have to drive to, but is delightful. Lots of scrimshaw carvings and things made from whalebones (including a fantastic yarn winder), artifacts from whaling expeditions and the industry, history of the people on the ships, etc. It's a relatively quick visit (and there's a giant skeleton in the middle of the shopping complex), but it was super-interesting.
posted by julen at 1:10 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is a very interesting post. I have been to Lahaina to see the humpbacks, and I live on Vancouver Island, often the recipient of a wonderfully warm mid-winter Pineapple Express. There is a yacht race from Victoria to Hawaii, and some of the humpbacks travel the same route here.
posted by Nevin at 2:43 PM on April 22, 2015

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