The True Story of the Death of Captain James Cook

Kamehameha and Vancouver

Rendezvous in Paradise

The H.M.S. Discovery lay at anchor in calm waters at Kealakekua Bay on the morning of February 25, 1794, as did her sister ship, the H.M.S. Chatham. Nearby lay a merchant sloop, the Lady Washington, belonging to a Captain Kendrick, who had been anchored there nearly six weeks trading with Kamehameha, the king of Hawaii Island.

The rising sun had not yet reached the steep cliffs of the darkened pali, still making its way over the broad shoulders of Mauna Loa. At a short distance lay the village of Ka‘awaloa and the residence of Kamehameha, hidden beneath the riot of coconut palms that dominated the flat, rocky ground there.

The British explorer Captain George Vancouver stood on the foredeck of Discovery and reflected on the peaceful scene and how it had shifted since that fateful day in 1779, when the honorable Captain James Cook had met his death in the line of duty at this very place.

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