Wreck of the County of Linlithgow

by Arnie Campbell 2015

County of Linlithgow

The four masted sailing ship County of Linlithgow aground in Orveas Bay off Gordon’s Beach in December, 1912. The vessel mistook the newly installed Sheringham Point Light to be the Race Rocks Light and turned to port thinking it was entering the waters off Victoria. It was later floated off, undamaged, at high tide. (Photo from the SRHS Collection #1146)

About 6:00 am on the morning of Monday, December 2nd, 1912 the County of Linlithgow was nearing the end of a seven week trip from Antofagasta, Chile when it mistook the recently installed lighthouse at Sheringham Point (activated on September 30th, 1912) for the Race Rocks Light. The ship was heading for the anchorage at Royal Roads, off of Esquimalt Harbour, when Captain Mueller, who had already ordered a course change to port in order to approach the anchorage, realized that instead of open water to his left he was heading into Orveas Bay. Gale force winds, strong currents and rain squalls apparently complicated matters as he tried to sail his ship away from the shore. By 6:30 am the County of Linlithgow was aground off of Gordon’s Beach.

According to a story in the December 5th issue of the Victoria Daily Colonist newspaper, the noise of the flapping sails awoke the Gordon family. Kitty Gordon and her daughter Kathleen walked to the beach and greeted the captain and crew. Once ashore, Captain Mueller used the West Coast Lifesaving Trail telegraph station at the Gordon Farm to send word of the grounding to Victoria. The steam tug Lorne, from Victoria and the U.S. life–saving steamer Snohomish, from Clallam Bay on the American side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, arrived immediately. The next day the tug Lorne was able to pull the ship off of the shore and tow it to Royal Roads, where it dumped its ballast and then continued to Esquimalt Harbour for dry docking where little damage was found.

Meanwhile, newspapers in Oregon, California and even as afar as Pittsburgh, New York carried the story; but incorrectly had the ship aground in “pounding seas” east of Otter Point (Sooke Bay) and in danger of sinking as, “She is on a weather shore and seas are breaking high over her. It is feared she will be a total loss.”



To quote from this article please cite:

Campbell, Arnie (2015) Wreck of the County of Linlithgow. Nauticapedia.ca 2015. http://nauticapedia.ca/Gallery/County_Linlithgow.php

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