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

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. Continued: 7. The Rafts

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 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
All six boats launched in the first frantic 30 minutes after the Valencia wrecked were smashed against the ship or flipped and smashed against the base of the solid rock cliffs along the shore. ...
Read more
The Valencia was a 252-foot-long passenger steamship built in 1882 in Philadelphia. She served as a passenger ship on the East Coast or North America until 1898 when she was sold to the Pacific ...
Read more
There were just 38 survivors of the Valencia shipwreck.  An estimated 140 people lost their lives on the ship over the course of 36 hours.  The 38 survivors escaped the ship at different times and ...
Read more

The Robert Lewers was a 185 foot, four masted schooner of 732 tons, built in Port Blakely, Washington in 1889. She was wrecked just past kilometre 19 on the West Coast Trail, just half a kilometre ...
Read more
Built in 1864 the 1376 ton, 3 masted ship, Becherdass-Ambiadass was wrecked on the rocky shore only a half mile from Pachena Point. This British ship was returning from Shanghai to Moodyville (now ...
Read more
The Revere shipwreck lays at the bottom of Port San Juan between Thrasher Cove and Owen Point. Thrasher Cove is the first or last West Coast Trail campsite you will encounter. She was a large 3 ...
Read more
The Puritan was a 4 masted schooner of 614 tons sailing inbound from San Francisco in ballast. She was heading for Port Gamble in Washington to pick up a load of lumber when the crew failed to ...
Read more
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 ...
Read more

When shipping in and out of Juan de Fuca Strait rapidly increased in the mid 1800's and an 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
Read more
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 ...
Read more
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 ...
Read more
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 ...
Read more
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. ...
Read more
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 ...
Read more