The Valencia Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailAfter the McCarthy boat was launched successfully and cleared the breakers at around 9am Tuesday January 23rd the captain, crew and passengers on the Valencia confidently expected men to soon appear on the cliffs opposite the ship. The Lyle line-firing gun was set up and ready to go on the hurricane deck. The Lyle gun was capable of firing three times. It could launch a harpoon with a quarter inch rope attached several hundred metres.

The Valencia Disaster

 Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail1. The Valencia Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail2. The Voyage Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail3. The Boats Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail4. The McCarthy Boat Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail5. The Bunker Party Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail6. On the Valencia Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail7. The Rafts Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail8. The Turret Raft Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail9. The Rescue Ships Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail10. The Aftermath Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail11. The Survivors Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail12. The Lost 

The West Coast Trail

Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailPrologue Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail1: The West Coast Trail Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail2: When to Hike & Fees Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail3: Trailheads Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail4: Getting There Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail5: Considerations Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail6: Campsites Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail7: Shipwrecks Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail8: Routes Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail9: Sights & Highlights

The harpoon could easily reach the cliffs above and when the men from the McCarthy boat arrived they could use this rope to pull up a thick 4cm rope and tie it to a tree. Then using a pulley, a breeches buoy would be used to carry everyone off the ship one by one.  With only three shots and such a steep cliff facing them, the captain must have been eager to make a successful shot. Probably an hour or two after the McCarthy boat departed the Lyle gun was fired twice. The first shot failed due to the line chafing against the box it was in and breaking. The second shot was perfect and flew high over the cliff and far into the forest. Now they waited for men to appear on the cliffs which should be very soon. Hours passed and nobody appeared. After about three hours the line sagged into the water and became caught on wreckage and chafed apart. The third and final Lyle gun shot was saved to be only fired when someone appeared on the cliffs.  Tuesday evening two attempts were made to swim with a line to shore. Both attempts failed due to the tremendous backwash of the surf and large pieces of the ship crashing between the ship and shore. Neither attempts got even halfway to shore and were pulled back into the ship. The Valencia continued to break up as the hours passed and the upper works of the ship collapsed leaving the survivors to spend Tuesday night into the rigging and on top of the hurricane deck. Tarps were arranged to cover the hurricane deck and all the woman passengers were huddled there. A few men occupied the one remaining cabin underneath the deck of the after house.

The Valencia was continuously collapsing and settling lower and lower. At low tide her bow was about 9 metres deep and at her stern was about 6 metres deep. On Wednesday morning everyone on the ship was forced to the hurricane deck and rigging as water filled everything below. The saloon deck and all of the upper works behind the after house had fallen into the sea.  26 Jan Daily Colonist p7: Willits interviewed on the Topeka: By Wednesday morning the ship was rapidly going to pieces.  Every swell carried away a portion of the ship, and decks rose and fell with every breaker, and it was impossible to stay on deck without clinging to a support.  The ship was sunk to about the level of the hurricane deck. 

Another sad calamity occurred during that tragic morning.  About fifteen or twenty persons, amongst them one or two women, had taken refuge in the foretopmast.  They appeared to be in the safest place, as it was removed from the wash of the waves, although the flying spray dashed over their heads.  Willits, would recall later that, "Suddenly and without warning the mast tottered and fell with a crash, carrying its load of shrieking human freight to a terrible death.  I do not think a single one was saved.  Their bodies were washed from the ship and we could see them dashed against the rocks.  To add to our misery, the last of our food was washed away and we had no water to drink.  The wind and rain combined with the sea soon numbed us.  Every time one of those in the rigging would lose his hold he would be swept away to the sharp rocks.  At about 930am another desperate attempt was about to be made to swim a rope to shore when finally, a ship was sighted about 2 miles away. The plan to swim ashore was abandoned and now the two life rafts were readied for launch.”

Finally the nightmare for the remaining survivors on the Valencia was about to end, rescue was finally coming.  The ship they saw was the Queen, a similar ship to the Valencia and owned by the same company.  Minute after agonizing minute as the Valencia shuddered and continued to fall apart as the ocean swells pounded it, their hopes faded.  Soon another two smaller ships arrived and despite the stormy seas came closer, then quickly retreated.  On the Valencia they waved and did everything they could to be seen.  At around 930am the decision was made to launch the two remaining life rafts. 

The Valencia Disaster Continued: 7. The Rafts

Best West Coast Trail Sights & Highlights

Best West Coast Trail Sights

The Valencia Disaster

The Valencia departed from San Francisco at 11:20am on Saturday, January 20th 1906, bound for Victoria and Seattle. She cruised roughly parallel to the coast at a variable distance that ranged from about 8 ...
Read more
Shortly after 3pm on Tuesday afternoon on January 23rd the Valencia’s owners in Seattle received a message that the Valencia had gone ashore somewhere west of the Carmanah Lighthouse on Vancouver ...
Read more
The Valencia was equipped with six lifeboats and a smaller working boat. These seven boats could hold up to 181 people. Just enough to accommodate the estimated 178 crew and passengers aboard.  There ...
Read more
After the McCarthy boat was launched successfully and cleared the breakers at around 9am Tuesday January 23rd the captain, crew and passengers on the Valencia confidently expected men to soon appear ...
Read more

West Coast Trail A to Z

Juan de Fuca Strait is the 154km long and 16km to 32km wide stretch of ocean that separates Vancouver Island from the northwest corner of Washington State. The international boundary between Canada and the United State runs down the centre of the strait. It was named ...
Read more
William Philip Daykin was the first lightkeeper of the Carmanah Point Lighthouse from 1891 to 1912. In books and newspapers he is either written as Phil Daykin or W.P. Daykin. He and his wife Helen Strelley Marriott Daykin had five sons, Charles Thomas Daykin, ...
Read more
Owen Point, at about the 67km mark on the West Coast Trail is home to a stunningly colourful and well hidden area of sandstone caves carved out by the ocean. Centuries of crashing waves have gouged out huge, circular openings in the cliffs jutting out into the ...
Read more

The West Coast Trail by Day

Amazing Whistler Hiking Trails

Explore BC Hiking Destinations!

The West Coast Trail

The West Coast Trail was created after decades of brutal and costly shipwrecks occurred along the West Coast of Vancouver Island.  One shipwreck in particular was so horrific, tragic and unbelievable that it forced the creation of a trail along the coast, which ...
Read more

Victoria Hiking Trails

Victoria has a seemingly endless number of amazing hiking trails.  Most take you to wild and beautiful Pacific Ocean views and others take you to tranquil lakes in beautiful BC Coastal Rainforest wilderness.  Regional Parks and Provincial Parks are everywhere you turn ...
Read more

Whistler Hiking Trails

Whistler is an amazing place to hike. Looking at a map of Whistler you see an extraordinary spider web of hiking trails. Easy trails, moderate trails and challenging hiking trails are all available. Another marvellous thing about Whistler is that Garibaldi Provincial Park ...
Read more