The Janet Cowan Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailThe Duchess of Argyle shipwreck lays at the bottom of the sea at the mouth of Cullite Cove near the 58 kilometre mark of the West Coast Trail. Cullite Cove is by far, one of the best campsites on the West Coast Trail. She was a huge, four masted barque with an iron hull and watertight bulkheads. By way of comparison, at 1700 tons, the Duchess of Argyle was almost four times as large as the Lizzie Marshall.

 

The Duchess of Argyle was sailing in ballast from San Francisco on October 13th, 1887, bound for Vancouver. She would pick up lumber and sail for Melbourne, Australia. Sailing up the coast from San Francisco, the good weather turned bad on October 16th. For almost two weeks a powerful gale hammered the Duchess of Argyle. When the storm finally let up, Cape Flattery was sighted about 20 miles away. The ship, unable to find wind, floated with the current, inching towards Juan de Fuca Strait. Soon a small tug boat arrived to assist the enormous becalmed ship through the strait. They lowered sails and got the hawser aboard to connect the ships. The captain of the tug quickly realized that his vessel was too small to manage such a huge ship rolling in the seas. Cape Flattery was still about 14 miles distant and concealed by fog much of the time.

The Duchess of Argyle wallowed in the current until midnight when a strong eastward gale gripped the ship once more. They sailed for Cape Flattery until the wind died again and on November 1st the fog lifted revealing Cape Flattery just 3 miles away. Suddenly the fog returned again, thicker than ever. They crawled forward slowly hoping for the fog to lift again. The fog didn't let up and at 315pm on November 3rd, breakers were heard. First Officer W. Spurr ordered the helm hard down, but it was too late. The bow crashed into the rock shelf a few hundred metres from the shore at Cullite Cove. The Duchess slid back off the reef, but now they were caught. The huge ocean swells battered her broadside into the reef. Over and over she was thrown into the reef until water rose in the hold enough for the captain to order abandon ship. They safely rowed along the coast, 7 miles south to Port San Juan, which today is the town of Port Renfrew and the southern(Gordon River) end of the West Coast Trail.

The crew returned to the Duchess the next day to find the massive ship under water all the way up to the second deck at low tide. The stern, however, was entirely out of the water and the crew managed to salvage some clothing and personal effects. The crew was then brought back on a passing ship that happened by. A week later it was reported that the Duchess had sunk in a gale. Little was left to be salvaged, however, as the local natives looted the ship after the crew departed.

Duchess to William Tell Shipwrecks on the West Coast Trail

More WCT Shipwrecks Near the Duchess of Argyle

The John Marshall Shipwreck - West Coast Trail Graveyard of the PacificThere are a couple more shipwrecks relatively near the Duchess of Argyle. The John Marshall shipwreck lays at the bottom of the sea just off Camper Bay, 4 kilometres up the trail towards Port Renfrew. The John Marshall was an old eastern built, 3 masted ship of 321 tons. Sailing in from San Francisco with a crew of 10, she was heading to Seabeck, Washington in ballast to pick up a load of lumber. Off Cape Flattery the John Marshall met a raging storm that left her beached in front of Camper Bay. There seem to be few details of this shipwreck, however, local natives reported that two ships came ashore from the storm that night. It had been assumed that she foundered off Cape Flattery with no survivors. So it was quite a surprise to find her ashore at Camper Bay, with her hull visible at low tide and her masts, spars and rigging scattered on the beach. There are no details of deaths from this shipwreck, so it is assumed that there was no loss of life.

William Tell Shipwreck - West Coast Trail Graveyard of the PacificThe William Tell shipwreck sits just a kilometre past John Marshall. Hidden under the waves, the William Tell, almost four times as large as the John Marshall was wrecked here in 1865, inbound from South Africa on its way to Puget Sound. She sailed straight into the reef in front of what is now the 64 kilometre mark of the West Coast Trail. The William Tell was built in New York in 1850. She sailed in the North Atlantic for a few years before branching out to more distant ports. On her final voyage in 1865, she was inbound from South Africa in ballast, heading to a port in the Puget Sound. She managed to sail into Juan de Fuca Strait, however stormy weather and strong currents moved her considerably far west. Blindly sailing in thick fog and the darkness of night, the William Tell smashed into the reef between Owen Point and Camper Bay. The crew of 22 men managed to scramble safely to shore and made their way to Owen Point where they lit signal fires. Their fires were spotted from the harbour of Port San Juan(Port Renfrew). They were picked up and later brought back to Victoria by a local trading schooner.

 Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailPuritan at 48.5k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailWempe Brothers at 49.4k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailDuchess of Argyle at 58k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailJohn Marshall at 62.3k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailWilliam Tell at 64.2

West Coast Trail Campsites Near the Duchess of Argyle

Cullite Cove Campsite Rating - West Coast TrailThe Duchess of Argyle sits hidden under the waves out front of Cullite Cove. Cullite Cove is a wonderful campsite on the West Coast Trail at the 58 kilometre mark. One of the nicest campsites you will find on the West Coast Trail. It has everything, a lovely wooded area with clearings for tents and campfires. Stunning views all around. A terrific, rocky beach, beautifully hemmed in by beautiful cliffs on either side. Cullite Creek pours into the cove, making for a stunning, albeit freezing swim into the surf. The campsite here is often very quiet as everybody seems to camp at Camper Bay just 4 kilometres away and doesn't even drop down the short detour off the main trail to Cullite Cove.

Cullite Cove Campsite on the West Coast Trail

Cullite Cove Campsite Map on the West Coast Trail

Walbran Creek Campsite Rating - West Coast TrailHeading north on the West Coast Trail, 5 kilometres from Cullite Cove you will come to the beautiful campsite at Walbran CreekWalbran Creek at 53k is home to possibly the best, and most unappreciated campsites on the West Coast Trail. It encapsulates so much that makes the West Coast Trail truly wonderful. The expansive beach which seems purpose built for enjoyability is flanked by scenic cliffs and creek on one side, the pacific ocean on the other, and backed by the emerald coloured Walbran Creek that flows through the jungle valley spanned by a cable car crossing! Of the list of pro's and con's for Walbran Creek, the list is hopelessly lopsided to the pro's. The campsite is nice and wild, with every tent looking out to a great ocean, creek view, or both. Far less busy than most other West Coast Trail campsites, Walbran Creek is a serene hidden paradise. The creek is great to jump into and there is a fair bit of interesting exploring along the beach.

Cullite Cove Campsite on the West Coast Trail

 Bonilla Creek at 48k Walbran Creek at 53k Cullite Cove at 58k Camper Bay at 62k

 

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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