Shipwreck Icon West Coast TrailWest Coast Adventures: Shipwrecks, Lighthouses, and Rescues Along Canada’s West Coast by Adrienne Mason is a great book to get a taste of some of the more interesting shipwrecks along the West Coast Trail. There is also some interesting history on Bamfield, the making of the West Coast Trail and some great history of lighthouses along the trail and beyond. The Prologue begins with a short look at the horror of the Valencia shipwreck.

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 incredible story of the Valencia is later told in Chapter 6. Another chapter tells of the Puritan shipwreck, which was a harrowing tale of this ship colliding with Bonilla Point just past the 48km point on the West Coast Trail. If you camp at the wonderful campsite at Bonilla Falls you will be sleeping between two shipwreck sites, Lizzie Marshall at 47km and the Puritan at 48.5km. On November 13th, 1896 the Puritan was caught in a storm at night off the west coast of Vancouver Island. They were way off coarse and the captain and crew hoped to spot the Tatoosh Lighthouse that marks the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait. They were a considerable distance north of where they thought they were and were blindly heading for a collision with the reefs off Bonilla Point. Through the darkness the lookout spotted the telltale indication of land ahead. “Breakers ahead!” he shouted and an instant later the Puritan grinded across the reef and her hull was ripped open. With the waves smashing the ship and all around, they were unable to safely launch lifeboats. As the storm raged on and the ship crumbled on the reef the crew retreated up the masts and into the rigging to avoid being smashed into the sea by waves.

Puritan Shipwreck West Coast Trail

Hopeless Situation on the Puritan

When daylight arrived they were 300 metres from the beach and they had lost all their lifeboats during the night. Their only chance to save themselves was to swim a rope to the beach and use it to escape the wreck. With huge waves crashing over the ship and the reef attempting this seemed like suicide as the waves would smash you against the reef. None of the crew volunteered. The situation was hopeless as they scanned the shoreline for signs of life and saw just and endless wall of forest in both directions. Looking to the ocean they could only hope that a ship would find them. A ship didn’t come, but instead a canoe was spotted. Jimmy Nytom(other accounts show his name as Frank Knighton), from the local Ditidaht people had been fishing when he spotted the Puritan wrecked on the reef. Now all they had to do was pass a line to him and he could drag a large rope to shore and they were saved.

Bonilla Falls West Coast Trail

Jimmy Nytom's Relentless Determination

Despite his expert skill with a canoe, Jimmy was unable to get close enough to catch the line thrown to him. Repeated attempts came up far short and they had to give up. Jimmy then paddled to shore to attempt something from there. Between the Puritan and the beach there was a flat reef in shallow water. If he could get to that reef, he may be close enough to catch the line. Jimmy waited for low tide, then waded into the freezing water to get to the reef. Still the distance was too great and in desperation the crew and Jimmy continued to try. With a spectacular display of bravery and endurance, Jimmy stayed on the reef as the freezing surf rose and waves knocked him over.

Bonilla Point Sunset West Coast Trail

Whole hours passed before they finally got the line to him and he triumphantly brought it to shore. They were then able to rig a bosons chair and after a few hours they were all safely on the shore. Jimmy led them to a lineman’s cabin for the night. The next morning, they returned to the site of the wreck and the Puritan was now on its side, masts and rigging gone and settling lower on the reef. They likely would have all been smashed into the sea had they not been rescued by the determined and unrelenting heroism of Jimmy Nytom. West Coast Adventures: Shipwrecks, Lighthouses, and Rescues Along Canada’s West Coast is definitely worth reading and highlights many historical events and characters along the West Coast Trail and beyond. You can get this book everywhere, including on Amazon here.

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More Shipwrecks of British Columbia by Fred Rogers follows his first book Shipwrecks of British Columbia. Taken together, these books cover a staggering number of shipwrecks all around Vancouver Island. What sets these two books apart from all other West Coast ...
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Of the many shipwrecks along the West Coast Trail the Valencia stands out as shockingly horrific in almost every detail. First the ship wrecked about 100 feet from the West Coast of Vancouver Island. She was intentionally driven up on the reef after an initial ...
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Just past the 20 kilometre mark of the West Coast Trail you will find an anchor of the Woodside on the beach. The Woodside, an 87 foot long steamer built in Sooke, British Columbia in 1878. Sooke is ...
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The Janet Cowan was a steel sailing vessel, four-masted, bark rigged, of 2498 tons built at Glasgow in 1889. She was wrecked at about the 19 kilometre mark on the West Coast Trail with several lives ...
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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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Less than a kilometre past the John Marshall shipwreck you will pass the William Tell shipwreck. Considerably larger than the John Marshall, the William Tell was a 1153 ton, 3 masted ship that ...
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The Raita shipwreck is located off the reefs at about the 33 kilometre mark of the West Coast Trail. Located just offshore and most remnants of this wreck are hidden under the waves. Some of the ...
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