Another Marine Disaster
Total Wreck the British Ship Swordfish near Race Rocks
All Hands Saved
News reached town yesterday afternoon of the total wreck of the British iron ship Swordfish, 725 tons, Capt. J. Shandley, on Bedford Rock, near Beechy Bay, and some two miles west of Race Rocks. H. M.S. Opal, which had gone out for a cruise, described the Swordfish’s boat with signals of distress flying, and bore down, took them on board and carried them to Esquimalt. The Swordfish was built in 1864. She was owned by W. J. Myers. Son & Co., of Liverpool, and was bound in ballast for Hastings Mills from San Francisco. She seems to have gone on the rock during a calm at 2 o’clock yesterday morning. Captain Shandley furnished up with the following acount of the disaster:
Left San Francisco on the 20th October in ballast, bound for Hasting Mills to load lumber for Australia. Entered the Straits at one o’clock on Sunday morning and beat about the Straits during the severe gale of that night. On Monday there were calms and variable winds; on Monday night saw Race Rock light and in the midst of a calm, between 10 and 12 o’clock the ship began to drift; at 12 1/2 o’clock wore ship to the westward, when the light breeze shifting from W. to E. round to South. She wore round to the southward and eastward again. Then she came round with her head to the S.S.E., coming to and falling off in the tide. Sounded and could find no bottom. At one o’clock yesterday morning the ship was mill drifting, and at two o’clock she struck sternforemost on Bedford rock, two miles west of Race Rocks, having drifted about five miles in two hours. She struck heavily. Kept the sail on and tried to pay her off; but it was of no use. The carpenter sounded the pumps a quarter of an hour after striking and reported the ship half-full of water. The captain sent up rockets and burned blue lights, but got no assistance. Put the boats out and got a few effects into the boats, consisting of the chronometers, log book, and officers’, and men’s clothing. The crew were sent away in boats just before daylight, and Captain Shanley, the chief officer, the carpenter, a boy and one man stopped by the wreck until she was full of water and the main beams broken. The sea was making a clean breach over the stern, the vessel sitting straight on the rock. The bows are out of water and three fathoms water were found under the bows. The captain thinks that a rock has gone through her bottom and caused a breach so extensive that she cannot be got off. The boats were picked up shortly after noon yesterday by H. M. S. Opal, and received every kindness at the hands of the officers and men. The distressed mariners were taken to Esquimalt, whence they were brought to Victoria. This morning the Dominion steamer Sir James Douglas will be sent down to the wreck with Captain Shandley and crew to save what is possible from her.
The worst disaster occurred on the dark night of March 24, 1911. The ferry Sechelt, bound for Sooke from Victoria found herself fighting a fierce westerly gale as she headed out the strait past Race Rocks.
In July of 1923 the liner Siberian Prince went aground within a mile of the lighthouse without ever hearing the horn.
On November 2, 1925 the Holland America liner Eemdijk also ran aground in almost the same location.
Midnight Mists Send
Ashore at Race Rocks Oct-15, 1925
Freighter Strikes on Bentinck Island on Way Out to Sea
Mishap Occurs in Thickest Weather Conditions Known Here in Years
Ashore in-Same Vicinity as Siberian Prince Three, Ago
Salvage Company Orders Steamer
Out to Stand by Wrecked, Vessel
Blindly groping her way to sea through one of the thickest blankets of fog to envelop the Strait in years, the Holland America Line freighter Eemdyk drove hard and fast ashore on Bentinck Island at midnight last night. Six feet of water were reported in the forward holds in wireless messages which called for aid. No loss of life was reported and it is considered unlikely that the crew is in any danger.
At the time of going to press the Pacific Salvage Company’s vessel Salvage Queen was preparing to proceed to the scene of the wreck, which is only about ten miles from the Outer Wharves in the direction of the William Head Quarantine Station.
Scene of Former Wreck
The Eemdyk blundered on the same rocks which held the Siberian Prince in a vise-like grip for many weeks after she had driven ashore in a fog in the Summer of 1922. Messages from the vessel last night were of a very meagre character, giving no information regarding the extent of the damages sustained. The Salvage Queen will not it is anticipated, wait for the fog to lift before steaming to Bentinck Island.
Worst Fog in Years
Experienced mariners expressed themselves of the opinion that the fog last night was the worst encountered here in many years. So thick was the pall of vapor that the midnight boat to Vancouver was compelled to cancel its sailing. In such weather conditions the Eemdyk could not have been steaming under any other than very slow bell when she struck last night. Evidently, however, the impact of her hull on the jagged rocks that fringe the shore of the island was sufficient to spring serious leaks in her forward plates. The Eemdyk is a large freighter of about 6,000 tons, of recent construction, and embodying many of the most advanced ideas in modern naval architecture.
Bound for Europe
She was bound for Europe, it is reported, when she struck. On October 12, last Monday, she sailed from Seattle for the intermediary port of Balboa via Tacoma, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Thus her last port of call was Tacoma.
Source: Metchosin School Museum
Metchosin Names by Bess Page