Shipwrecked in Paradise
Cleopatra's Barge in Hawai'i
Nautical Archaeology - Western History
8.5 x 11, 216 pp.
210 color, 4 b&w photos. 3 maps. 27 line drawings. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 09/14/2015
Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series
  hardcover
Price:        $39.95

978-1-62349-283-0
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Winner, 2016 Secretary's Research Award, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution - awarded for author's contributions to research

Shipwrecked in Paradise

Cleopatra's Barge in Hawai'i

Paul F. Johnston

Winner, 2016 Secretary's Research Award, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution - awarded for author's contributions to research

The first oceangoing yacht ever built in America, Cleopatra’s Barge, endured many incarnations over her eight-year life, from Mediterranean pleasure cruiser to a Hawaiian king’s personal yacht.

The famed ship, at times also a Christian missionary transport, pirate ship, getaway vehicle, instrument of diplomacy, and racing yacht, wrecked on a reef in Hanalei Bay on April 6, 1824.

Obtaining the first underwater archaeological permits ever issued by the state of Hawai‘i, a team of divers from the Smithsonian Institution located, surveyed, and excavated the wrecked ship from 1995 to 2000.

The 1,250 lots of artifacts from the shipwreck represent the only known material culture from the reign of King Kamehameha II (Liholiho), shedding light on the little-documented transitional period from Old Hawai‘i to foreign influence and culture. Although Liholiho ruled Hawai‘i for only a few short years, his abolition of taboos and admission of the Boston Christian missionaries into his kingdom planted the seeds for profound changes in Hawaiian culture.

Richly illustrated, Shipwrecked in Paradise tells the story of the ship’s life in Hawai‘i, from her 1820 sale to Liholiho to her discovery and excavation.

PAUL F. JOHNSTON is curator of Maritime History at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History and is secretary for the Council of American Maritime Museums.

What Readers Are Saying:

Cleopatra’s Barge is a vessel with an interesting history which a modern audience will find fascinating to know represents a nineteenth century common practice of American-built vessels ending up in a variety of foreign trades and under a different flag. Paul F. Johnston is uniquely qualified to write not only about the history of the ship, but also how archaeology adds to our understanding. This book does an excellent job in filling in the gaps that have existed until now in regard to the ship’s Hawaiian history.”—James P. Delgado, Director of Maritime Heritage, NOAA's Office of Maritime Sanctuaries

“The book will add to the literature of underwater archaeology scholarship and public domain addressing an important turning point in Hawaiian cultural history. The writing style is clear and engaging. The author effectively weaves together a memoir with historical context plus a traditional archaeological field report focusing on material culture. He captures the very essence of the trials and tribulations of any working field underwater archaeologist in his manuscript. In sum, Cleopatra’s Barge has potential to be a welcome and refreshing contribution to the book shelves of underwater archaeologists and the public alike.”—Lynn B. Harris, assistant professor, Program of Maritime Studies, East Carolina University

“A fascinating book on a fascinating ship, Cleopatra’s Barge, America’s earliest seagoing yacht.  Built in 1816 for an eccentric shipping magnate in Salem, Massachusetts, the luxurious vessel became the royal yacht of a Hawaiian king in 1820. Only four years later, in the hands of a drunken crew, it was lost in a bay of Kauai. I have never read a better description of the way archaeologists actually spend most of their time than Johnston’s beautifully written account of the location, excavation, and historical interpretation of the wreck’s remains.”—George F. Bass, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Texas A&M University

"A must for archaeologists and nautical history fans alike."— The Bookwatch: The Nautical Shelf, January 2016

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