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 Campsites

 Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailAlaskan at 4k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSoquel at 5k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSarah at 7k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailBecherdass-Ambiadass at 8k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailMichigan at 12k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailUzbekistan at 13.8k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailVarsity at 17.6k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailValencia at 18.3k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailJanet Cowan at 19k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailRobert Lewers at 20k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailWoodside at 20.2k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailUncle John at 26.2k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailVesta at 29k 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 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 Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailRevere at 69k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailCyrus at 75k

West Coast Trail Shipwrecks

Just as you pass the 49 kilometre mark of the West Coast Trail you will pass the Wempe Brothers shipwreck. A 4 masted, wooden schooner of 681 tons, quite a large sailing vessel for her time. The ...
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The Michigan shipwreck on the West Coast Trail is the first one you can see and actually touch, which is incredible since it is well over a century old.  On January 21st, 1893 this 695 ton steam ...
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At about 29 kilometres on the West Coast Trail you will pass the Vesta shipwreck. This 3 masted schooner of 286 tons was wrecked here on November 10th, 1897. This 128 foot long sailing ship was ...
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The Uzbekistan was a steel steamship of 2569 tons. Built in 1937 in France and became a shipwreck in Graveyard of the Pacific on April 1st, 1943. A Russian ship, the Uzbekistan was part of the ...
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The West Coast Trail Guide

When shipping in and out of Juan de Fuca Strait rapidly increased in the mid 1800's and alarming and costly number of ships were lost, the need for a inland trail was realized. It would take decades, and many more brutal and costly shipwrecks in the waters leading to ...
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The West Coast Trail is incredible. Everything about it is amazing. From the wildly, incomprehensibly enormous trees to endless jaw dropping views. And it's tough.  Very tough.  It is a trail that shouldn't exist. Hiking trails always form out of the easiest route worn ...
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The West Coast Trail hiking season is confined to just five months due to the dangerously stormy weather during the winter months. In the winter the days are short, tides are high and heavy rain and strong winds are frequent. Hiking the trail in the summer is tough ...
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There are three entry/exit points for the West Coast Trail, however the midway entry/exit point at Nitinaht Narrows is for hikers only hiking part of the trail. The two main entry points are at Pachena Bay in the north(Bamfield) and Gordon River in the south(Port ...
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There are lots of options to getting to the West Coast Trail. The trail is linear so you have to arrange to get to the trailhead as well as from your exit trailhead. Most West Coast Trail hikers drive to one trailhead then bus to the other and hike back to their car. ...
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The West Coast Trail is a very tough hike. About one out of one hundred hikers don't make it, they need to be rescued. That's why there are so many fees. By the time you are done preparing and registering, you laugh at how hiking got so expensive. Isn't hiking usually ...
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West Coast Trail Campsites

Walbran Creek at 53k is home to possibly the best, and most unappreciated campsites on the West ...
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The Pacheedaht Campground is a beautiful, and often bustling campground, quite close to the ...
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The Tsocowis Creek campsite at 16.5k has a decent beach with an excellent water source. Most hikers ...
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The Pachena Bay Campground is the closest campsite to the Pachena trailhead, not on the West Coast ...
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Day 5 on the West Coast Trail is a stunning, very difficult and tremendously enjoyable day of hiking. Walbran Creek is gorgeous campsite to wake up to. Your tent will open up to a sweeping view of Juan ...
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Day 1 on the West Coast Trail hiking south from the Pachena trailhead is a fairly relaxing first day. Your first beach, Pachena Beach is a lovely, wide, sandy arch that stretches to a thick wall of ...
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