Race Rocks Light

by Captain Alec Provan and John MacFarlane 2016

Race Rocks Light

Race Rocks Light (Photo from the Captain Alec Provan collection. )

Race Rocks Light (List of Lights 189 G5300) is a Cylindrical tower, black and white bands. It exhibits Flash 0.3 s; eclipse 9.7 s. Year round. Horn - Blast 2 s; sil. 3 s; blast 2 s; sil. 3 s; blast 2 s; sil. 48 s. Horn points 155°. Chart:3410.

Race Rocks Light was established 26/12/1860 on Great Race Rock. The outline of Race Rocks on the horizon can be seen from Dallas Road in Victoria is the second of the great Imperial lights. It was designed by a Mr. Morris, civil engineer. The site was selected by a committee consisting of: Captain Richards, Captain Fulford, Captain Cooper, Captain Nagle and Captain Mouat. It’s black and white striped granite tower is the most distinctive on the coast.

Ships arriving filled with prospectors on their way to the Cariboo Goldfields were arriving regularly requiring a navigational mark to guide the mariners to Victoria. George Davies was transferred from Fisgard Light when Race Rocks opened thus giving him the distinction of having opened the both of the new Imperial lights. The tower was painted with the black and white stripes to distinguish it from the surrounding landscape. A fog alarm installed in 1884 was often brought into controversy as many ship captains complained that the horn often could not be heard. This controversy continued until 1929 when a hydrographic survey conducted acoustic tests discovering that the sound of the foghorn was bouncing off surrounding hills and the tower itself creating areas where the signal was mute.

Race Rocks Light

Race Rocks Light (Photo from the Captain Alec Provan collection. )

Keepers: George Nicholas Davies (1861–1866); Thomas Argyle (1866–1888); Albert Argyle (1888–1889); W.P. Daykin (1889–1891); Frederick Mercer Eastwood (1891–1919); James Thomas Forsyth (1919–1932); Henry I. McKenzie (1932–1933); Andrew Ritchie (1933–1940); Thomas Westhead (1940–1948); Arthur Anderson (1948–1950); Percival C. Pike (1950–1852); Gordon Odlum (1952–1961); Charles Clark (1961); Ben Rogers (1961–1964); J. Alan Tully (1964–1966); Trevor M. Anderson (1966–1982); Charles Redhead(1982–1989); Mike E. Slater (1989–1997).

Race Rocks was named by officials of the Hudson’s Bay Company about 1842 for the dangerous currents that swirl around the rocks. A number of vessels have sunk there after hitting the rocks.

Race Rocks Chart

The Race Rocks Light is the center of a Marine Protected Area that is administered by the UWC Pearson College. (Photo from the UWC Pearson College website. )

Currently, the islands of Race Rocks are Crown Land of the British Columbia Government administered by British Columbia Provincial Parks. The island is a Provincial Ecological Reserve. It leases the envelope of land around the light tower, which also includes the vertical solar panel unit and fog horn to the Canadian Coast Guard, (a service of Fisheries and Oceans Canada). The British Columbia Provincial Parks has granted to the Lester B. Pearson College a 30–year lease to manage the ecological reserve, and all the facilities not otherwise leased by the Canadian Coast Guard on the island. The area is a Marine Protected Area – Area of Interest.

References: Woodward, Frances M. (1974); https://www.notmar.gc.ca/publications/list-livre/pac/p180-en.php; http://www.racerocks.ca/;

To quote from this article please cite:

Provan, Captain Alec and John MacFarlane (2016) Race Rocks Light. Nauticapedia.ca 2016. http://nauticapedia.ca/Gallery/Light_Racerocks.php

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