Shipwreck Icon West Coast TrailThe Unforgiving Coast is an excellent book which has separate chapters for some of the most tragic shipwrecks in the Pacific Northwest from Oregon to British Columbia. Though only one West Coast Trail shipwreck is found in this book, the Valencia, it is well worth reading as the author brings the story together in a very readable way. One good and bad aspect of the Valencia disaster is the great amount of public attention it garnered in the months and even years after.

West Coast Trail Shipwrecks

 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 Campsites

Pachena Bay Campground West Coast Trail CampsitesMichigan Creek at 12k West Coast Trail CampsitesDarling River at 14k West Coast Trail CampsitesOrange Juice Creek at 15k West Coast Trail CampsitesTsocowis Creek at 16.5k West Coast Trail CampsitesKlanawa River at 23k West Coast Trail CampsitesTsusiat Falls at 25k West Coast Trail CampsitesCribs Creek at 42k West Coast Trail CampsitesCarmanah Creek at 46k West Coast Trail CampsitesBonilla Creek at 48k West Coast Trail CampsitesWalbran Creek at 53k West Coast Trail CampsitesCullite Cove at 58k West Coast Trail CampsitesCamper Bay at 62k Thrasher Cove - West Coast Trail CampsitesThrasher Cove at 70k Pacheedaht Campground

The good, of course is that we have a great amount of eye witness detail and testimony of the events. The problem about having too many sources is that it is a tremendous task to pull them all together into a coherent story. Grover does this very well in the Unforgiving Coast, however there are some lapses where the timeline goes all to hell. For example, he outlines the events of the Phil Daykin/David Logan shore party as they travel to the top of the cliff above the wreck. Shortly after they arrive the Valencia is dealt its final blow and a huge wave washes the remaining survivors clinging to the rigging into the ocean. The survivors would have quickly drowned or have been pulled out to sea to die moments later of hypothermia. In the actual coarse events the rescue ships that were in the vicinity several hundred metres offshore, unable to get close enough to attempt a rescue had left the area some time before this final wave killed the remaining survivors. In the book, however, the timeline is mixed up in that Grover describes how the Daykin/Logan party left the scene and then “meanwhile, ships from Victoria were moving toward the scene to offer assistance”. He then gives a decent summary of the various aborted attempts at rescue from the sea which is a bit confusing as the narrative shot back in time several hours, but uses the word “meanwhile”. Instead of “meanwhile”, he should have stated, ‘in the previous 15 hours, several ships arrived in the area to attempt a rescue’. One excellent aspect of the Unforgiving Coast is the almost unique explanation for the lack of success of the Daykin/Logan shore party.

Roby Daykin Explains Klanawa Crossing

Grover uses accounts from people close to the events during those chaotic hours. He uses an interview done in 1936 by the Victoria Daily Colonist of Roby Daykin, younger brother of Phil Daykin. The Roby Daykin account appears to explain some previously inexplicable events of the shore party as the travelled to the wreck site. Particularly the delay at crossing the Klanawa River which, Roby Daykin recalled was due to the man across the river demanding $10 per person to cross. Unable to pay, they were forced to spend the night and in the daylight of the next morning they had to search the forest to find a small canoe to cross and commandeer the large canoe. 

Klanawa River West Coast Trail

Klanawa River on the West Coast Trail

Klanawa River is shown here at its calmest in the summer. In the middle of winter at night when the Daykin/Logan party arrived here it would have looked quite different as a rushing torrent of water and no cable car crossing that we see today. This picture also shows how thick the rainforest is along the shore that they had to crawl through to find the broken canoe they were able to use to cross.

Klanawa River Map v7b

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The Wreck of the Steamer Valencia, written in 1906 is the result of the intense investigation by US government as directed by President Theodore Roosevelt. The result of the thorough investigation was made into a book widely distributed at the time. It lays out ...
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The Alaskan was a small, wooden hulled steamship of 150 tons built in Oregon in 1886. She was owned by a Vancouver freight company and was on route to Kildonan in Barkley Sound with 100 tons of box ...
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The Varsity was a fishing boat of 90 tons, returning to Puget Sound from California on February 5th, 1940. In bad weather and stormy seas, she abruptly struck the shore, just a kilometre past, what is ...
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The Soquel shipwreck, which lies just past Seabird Rocks, was a much larger ship than the Alaskan at 698 tons. She was a four masted schooner built in San Francisco, California in 1902. The Soquel was ...
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The Valencia is usually regarded as the worst shipwreck disaster in the West Coast Trail and the final impetus for the creation of the West Coast Trail. The SS Valencia was an iron-hulled, 1600 ton ...
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