The Janet Cowan Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailYou will pass the Dare shipwreck at the 39 kilometre mark of the West Coast Trail. The Graveyard of the Pacific claimed this 3 masted, 269 ton schooner on December 23rd, 1890. The Dare sailed out of San Francisco in ballast for Tacoma to take on a load of lumber.  In the middle of the winter, stormy season along this coast, the Dare was caught in a typically brutal storm. 

 

The crew fought the high winds and tumultuous seas driving them towards the unforgiving shore of Vancouver Island. The Dare was smashed on the rock shore just three kilometres west of Carmanah Point. The crew, unhurt from the impact of the ship was able to get ashore relatively easily. Luckily for the crew they were soon met by Indians who resided just down the beach. The good folks that ferry West Coast Trail hikers across Nitinaht Narrows are descendants of the rescuers of the crew of the Dare. They were transported to Victoria by canoe by the natives. Their ship was left smashed on the rocks and what could be salvaged or looted was taken away.

Today there are no visible remnants of the Dare shipwreck except one marvellous reminder of this brutal coastline, the ship's anchor. The ship crashed onto the rocks quite a distance from the present location of the anchor. However with no other shipwreck contenders in the area, the anchor West Coast Trail hikers stumble pas here is almost certainly the anchor from the Dare. You will see it just past the 38 kilometre mark of the trail laying on the rocks in plain view. Dare Point begins just as you pass the anchor(if hiking from the Pachena trailhead). Further along you will come to Dare Beach, a nice, though narrow patch of beach in an area almost entirely rocky, unforgiving coastline.

Raita to Dare Shipwrecks on the West Coast Trail

More West Coast Trail Shipwrecks Near the Dare

The Santa Rita Shipwreck -West Coast Trail Graveyard of the PacificThe Graveyard of the Pacific is represented here well with shipwrecks. Within sight of the Dare's anchor you will see white water crashing over a shallow, would-be island just offshore. This is where the Santa Rita, a steel steam ship met her end in the winter of 1923. On February 15th, 1923 at 520am, this 235 foot long, 1600 ton ship collided head on with the the small island reef just a few hundred metres from the beach. The Santa Rita was sailing in from San Pedro, California, in ballast for a port in the Puget Sound. In stormy weather and blindly navigating in poor visibility, the Carmanah light was mistaken for the Cape Flattery Lighthouse on Tatoosh Island. The Carmanah Lighthouse is along the West Coast Trail and the Cape Flattery Lighthouse is across the Juan de Fuca Strait in the United States! The crew turned into what they thought was the Juan de Fuca Strait and keeping the Cape Flattery Lighthouse on their right. Unfortunately they were about 20 kilometres north of what they thought, and were in fact keeping the Carmanah Lighthouse to their right and sailing directly at Vancouver Island. At 520am on February 15th, 1923 the Santa Rita collided head on into a small offshore reef just a few hundred metres from the West Coast Trail. The large ship, must have been sailing at quite a speed owing to the crew's reckoning that they were entering the Juan de Fuca Strait. The sudden impact must have been horrific, loud, and completely unwarned. In the next few hours the entire crew of 30 escaped the wreck via breeches buoy. A breeches buoy is a rope based rescue system where a line runs from the ship to the shore and survivors ride in a flotation ring and leg harness.

The Skagit Shipwreck - West Coast Trail Graveyard of the PacificThe rocky point of land just beyond where the Santa Rita wrecked, the huge, 3 masted barkentine, the Skagit collided dramatically into the rocks. The crew mistook the Cape Flattery lighthouse, several miles south of here for the Carmanah lighthouse. Blinded by fog and in stormy seas, the Skagit collided headlong onto the brutal, rocky coast of Vancouver Island. Her anchor, as with the Dare's anchor lays on the beach here as a tombstone of sorts for this tragedy that killed the captain and cook of that ship. The adventurous and determined may be able to find more remnants of the Skagit down at the foot of the reef, just below the low tide level.

The Raita Shipwreck - West Coast Trail Graveyard of the PacificOn the next point of land past the Skagit, yet another shipwreck, the Raita met her end. A few remnants of this century old shipwreck can be seen today, however the West Coast Trail bends far inland here and getting a closer look would be a bit challenging and take a fair bit of hiking. The Raita was a French registered ship of of Papete, French Polynesia. She was loaded with lumber from Port Gamble, Washington heading to deliver it to Tahiti. Shortly after setting sail, she began taking on water. The strong winds and current overpowered the Raita and she was forced perilously close to Vancouver Island. In a desperate attempt to regain control, the crew began dumping their cargo into the sea and dropped her anchor. The winds picked up and snapped the anchor chain. The crew seeing the rocky shoreline coming near, launched a lifeboat and escaped. They managed to row safely to the Carmanah Lighthouse and were soon picked up by a passing CPR steamship. The Raita was bashed into the shore at Whyac Point, which at the time was known as Mission Point. At low tide she was high and dry on the rocks, completely out of the water. She was wrecked here on January 18th, 1925. Some of the old ship's hull timbers can still be seen today, a century later!

Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailRaita at 33k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSkagit at 34.2k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSanta Rita at 37k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailDare at 39k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailLizzie Marshall at 47k

West Coast Trail Campsites Near the Dare

Cribs Creek Campsite Rating - West Coast TrailThere is one West Coast Trail campsite that is somewhat close to the Dare shipwreck. Cribs Creek campsite is just a couple kilometres toward Carmanah Point. Though camping along the beach in the other(north) direction would be very nice, there are signs indicating not to due to the abundance of wildlife in the area. This lovely, long sandy beach that you walk along after you emerge from the deep forest after you cross the Cheewhat River reminds you of Long Beach near Tofino. The campsite at Cribs Creek is in the opposite direction. Due to there being few campsite options on this stretch of the West Coast Trail, you will always find Cribs Creek busy with tents and tired campers.

Cribs Creek Campsite - West Coast Trail

Carmanah Creek slowly flows through this wonderfully massive channel that cuts deep into the sand out to the ocean. There is a cable car crossing that connects to the forest on either side of the creek. Most West Coast Trail hikers pass the campsite here without taking a moment to look at the nice beach.   Plenty of room for plenty of tents on the wide, sand beach. This is one of the beaches that makes you drop your pack, sit on the warm sand and gaze out at the ocean dumbfounded for minutes at a time. The West Coast Trail is something special! There is no shortage of great spots on the beach to put up your tent. You can even put up your tent along the river on the lovely sandy/rocky bank. Everybody camps at the unimpressive Cribs Creek campsite just 4 kilometres away, leaving Carmanah Creek a serene little hideaway. This is one of the campsites where you will want to stay for days, so you might want to include that in your itinerary! There are the usual West Coast Trail campsite amenities at Carmanah Creek, including some clearings in the forest for tents. The beach is ideal for camping, and on a sunny day, you will find yourself wandering down the lovely beach towards the Carmanah Lighthouse. Chez Monique's is along the beach between the lighthouse and Carmanah Creek. There you will find a restaurant along the beach with burgers and drinks. Seems a bit strange to encounter a restaurant in the middle of the West Coast Trail, but it has been here for years and will likely remain. For some, Chez Monique's is a highlight of the trail, for others it is an annoying bit of civilisation in the midst of the wild beauty of the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Carmanah Creek Campsite on the West Coast Trail

Carmanah Creek Campsite Map

 Tsusiat Falls at 25k Cribs Creek at 42k Carmanah Creek at 46k Bonilla Creek at 48k

 

West Coast Trail Shipwrecks

The Alaskan was a small, wooden hulled steamship of 150 tons built in Oregon in 1886. She was ...
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The Soquel shipwreck, which lies just past Seabird Rocks, was a much larger ship than the ...
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Built in 1864 the 1376 ton, 3 masted ship, Becherdass-Ambiadass was wrecked on the rocky shore ...
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The Uzbekistan was a steel steamship of 2569 tons. Built in 1937 in France and became a ...
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The Varsity was a fishing boat of 90 tons, returning to Puget Sound from California on February ...
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The Janet Cowan was a steel sailing vessel, four-masted, bark rigged, of 2498 tons built at ...
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The Robert Lewers was a 185 foot, four masted schooner of 732 tons, built in Port Blakely, ...
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The Uncle John was a 138 foot, three masted barkentine of 314 tons. Built in Eureka, California ...
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The Raita shipwreck is located off the reefs at about the 33 kilometre mark of the West Coast ...
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The Skagit, a 3 masted barkentine of 506 tons was wrecked on the reef in front of Clo-oose on ...
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The Puritan was a 4 masted schooner of 614 tons sailing inbound from San Francisco in ballast. ...
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The Duchess of Argyle shipwreck lays at the bottom of the sea at the mouth of Cullite Cove near the ...
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The John Marshall shipwreck is located under the waves just outside the mouth of Camper Bay at ...
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