An Incident With the Three–masted Bark Belfast

by Ken Gibson with John MacFarlane 2018


The Belfast at Anchor in Sydney Inlet. (Photo from the Ken Gibson (from Mike Hamilton) collection.)

In 1916 the three–masted bark Belfast, while searching for the entrance to the Juan de Fuca Strait drove onto the coast of Vancouver Island on the north side of Flores Island narrowly missing Hot Springs Cove on her port side. She was found by lineman Mike Hamilton anchored in peaceful water. The Bamfield attended her carrying John Grice, the Customs Agent from Tofino.


The Belfast with the Bamfield Lifeboat alongside. John Grice is on the right. He preempted DL114 (now downtown Tofino). All the land pre–empters prior to 1900 were commemorated with a geographical place name by Captain John Wabran. Grice Point and Grice Bay were named for the man in the picture. (Photo from the Ken Gibson (from Mike Hamilton) collection.)

In those days, without the benefit of weather reports, detailed charts, electronic navigation aids and radio – and without an auxiliary engine – these beautiful vessels arriving from the Pacific could easily miss the turn southward and end up on the unforgiving west coast of Vancouver Island.

Here she is with the steam tug Wanderer of the Puget Sound Tugboat Co. from Seattle WA. Tugs, like the one in the picture, often stationed themselves in the middle of the Strait to intercept sailing ships bound for Puget Sound ports. Fees were negotiated between the tug master and the sailing ship master with megaphones and increased as the danger to the sailing vessel increased.

To quote from this article please cite:

Gibson, Ken with John MacFarlane (2018) An Incident With the Three–masted Bark Belfast. 2018.

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