Last Load of Sugar Departs from Kahului Harbor
The final load of sugar from Maui went out of port at Kahului Harbor this morning. Blaring boat horns could be heard throughout central Maui as the departure marked the end of an era for sugar in the islands.
Earlier this week, the last load of sugar cane was offloaded into the Puʻunēnē Sugar Mill.
Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company began operations more than 140 years ago. Over time, the operation grew into Hawaii’s largest farm with 36,000 acres under cultivation.
In early 2016, parent company Alexander & Baldwin announced that the plantation would transition to a new diversified agriculture model, with sugar operations ceasing at the end of the year.
The company’s workforce has been tapering off since March with the remaining 350 scheduled to be laid off at the end of this month. Fifteen employees have been retained for the transition going forward.
Below is a letter that the Captain Louis Terramorse, Jr. “Capt. Lou” and Chief Mate Robert Abbott of the Moku Pahu shared this morning with those who have helped to fuel the ship, offload sugar, and deliver food and other supplies over the years:
I wanted to take this time to express just how deeply touched I was at the sendoff you all gave us this morning. I have been sailing now for 26 years and over 20 of it has been proudly served on board this Mighty Moku Pahu as a part of the proud Hawaiian sugar trade. My heart swelled with pride and joy, and I am not too proud to admit that my eyes grew watery as we backed away from the berth and the entire harbor came to a stop to line up and salute the Pahu as she made here final departure out of the harbor. I have heard of a 21 gun salute but that was the first time I ever experienced a 21 horn and whistle salute. To see everyone on the dock and anywhere in the harbor just standing and seeing us off with all the drivers lined up in their vehicles blaring their horns along with the Matson tug, it was a great moment for an aging ship and her aging captain. Even the paddle boarders were all lined up just watching us depart this morning. My crew was honored and we all know this will be an event in our lives that we will never forget.
Personally, I have been honored to be able to be a part of the 145 year era that was Hawaiian sugar. The bulk of my career has been working on the last Hawaiian sugar ship and the last 13.5 years I have been the proud captain of the last Hawaiian sugar ship. No matter where my career takes me, I will always consider myself a sugar captain. You always made me feel like I was a part of the sugar family and the Kahului harbor family. The friendships that developed over the years will never be forgotten, and I will cherish the time I had working with you all. The ending of Hawaiian sugar is sad, but the saddest part for me will be not working with all of you anymore.
When I find myself back on Maui (I will have to come back because it is like a second home to me) I will look you all up so that we can break bread, enjoy a nice beverage, and tell story about the old sugar days.
I can never thank you enough for the honor I felt with the great sendoff you gave us.
Mahalo to you all, and everyone stay healthy and safe
Until we see each other again,