After using up all the Hawaiian hospitality and supplies, Captain Cook planned to return to Britain. Shortly after leaving the Big Island, the ship broke a mast, making it necessary to return to Kealakekua Bay for repairs. As they sailed back in the bay, the Hawaiians were nowhere to be seen. A chief had declared the area kapu (forbidden) to help replenish it. When Cook finally found the Hawaiians, they were polite but wary. “Why are you back? “ “Didn’t we please you enough already?” “What do you want now?”
As repair of the mast continued, things got tense. Eventually some Hawaiians stole one of Cook’s rowboats (for the nails), and the normally calm Cook blew his cork. On February 14, 1779, Cook went ashore to trick the chief to come aboard his ship, where he planned to detain the chief until the rowboat was detained. As they were headed to the ship, the chief’s wife begged him not to go.
Thousands of Hawaiians were now crowded around Cook. He ordered a retreat. Suddenly, a shot was heard from across the bay. Someone shouted that the Englishman had killed an important chief. A shielded warrior with a dagger came at Cook. Cook shot at the warrior. The Hawaiians became emboldened. More shots were fired.
Standing knee high in water, Cook turned to give the order to cease fire when he was struck from behind with a club. He was then stabbed…dozens of times. At the age of 50, Cook, the world’s great explorer, was dead because of a stolen rowboat.
Cite: O’ahu Revealed by Andrew Doughty