The Schooner “Spec”
In the spring of 1846 a large order for opium was placed from San Francisco by an underworld group to runners in Singapore, China. The opium was loaded aboard the schooner “Spec” in Singapore and she set sail, headed southeast. She sailed for the Hawaiian Islands, which were then independent, and docked at Honolulu on the island of Oahu. The evening after her arrival the transaction was completed and the pure opium was secretly off-loaded and transferred to another ship for the journey on to San Francisco. At the same time a shallow-draft boat pulled alongside carrying a chest of gold coins. Hefting the chest onto the “Spec,” the sailors locked it securely in the captain’s cabin.
The next morning the “Spec” set sail. She made it as far west as the island of Kauai before a storm broke. Desperate for shelter, the captain sailed the ship into the Kaulakahi Channel, between the islands of Kauai and Niihau. However, the “Spec” quickly broke up in the twisting water and sank in 700 fathoms, taking her gold to the bottom along with most of the crew.
Two men somehow managed to struggle ashore and made their way back to Honolulu. It is certain that $100,000 in gold was aboard the “Spec” when she sank, but if the gold was in U.S. $10 coins as claimed by the two surviving seamen, then the treasure could be worth up to 500 times its face value.