Finding evidence of a shipwreck beneath the ocean would finally prove a theory that Rogers, an amateur historian, has been promoting for decades. He thinks a handful of Spanish and Dutch ships visited Hawaii in the centuries before Captain Cook landed there in 1778. Some Europeans came ashore after shipwrecks, like the characters in “The Swiss Family Robinson,” he claims, and eventually integrated into the local society. That early European influence in the 16th and 17th centuries forever changed Hawaiian culture, Rogers says.
“It’s cool — you read ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ and pirate stories, and here it really did happen,” said Rogers, a retired commercial airline pilot. “But nobody else is really paying attention to it.”