The Wreck of the L. and H.

by John MacFarlane 2011

Nitinat Bar

Typical sea conditions at the Nitinat Bar which must be crossed to enter the Nitinat River and Lake. (Photo from the MacFarlane collection)

The British Columbia Provincial Department of Public Works operated the work boat L.&H. on the west coast of Vancouver Island. On May 12th (probably 1938) at about 7:30 am was swamped while attempting to cross the Nitinat Bar into Nitinat Lake. She was swept back across the bar to seaward by the current. She was carried by the tide to the beach about half a mile east.

L and H on the beach

The Maquinna stands off the shore in support of the L.&H. caught in the surf. (Photo from the MacFarlane collection.)

Some members of the Nitinaht First Nation at Whyack Village ferried out Gilbert Livingston and George Thompson in a large dugout canoe. They took off the crew: R.E. Purney (Port Renfrew); Charles Helgesen (Sooke); and the ship’s cook Mr. Duckworth and landed them on the beach at Clo–oose. The Engineer–Skipper Winterburn stayed with the ship and put down anchors. Unfortunately the anchors dragged in the surf and the vessel was washed up on the beach. Captain Winterburn got off in a ship’s launch just as the breakers began to break over the vessel. The situation was very dangerous for both crew and vessel.

L and H on the beach

The L.&H. up on the beach at Clo–oose BC (Photo from the MacFarlane collection.)

L and H on the beach

The L.&H. already up on the beach at Clo–oose BC (Photo from the MacFarlane collection.)

Seeing this drama unfold to seaward, Captain George A. MacFarlane took the steam tug Solander out of Nitinat Lake and crossed the Nitinat Bar. He made every effort with Captain Winterburn to get a line on the L.&H. but the sea was too rough. Eventually Winterburn had to board the Solander to be saved himself. The coastal steamer Maquinna stood by offshore but was unable to render assistance due to the heavy sea conditions.

The L.&H. was relatively undamaged in spite of the ordeal suffering only a hole above the waterline made during the capsize. That evening, on the high tide, the Solander under Captain MacFarlane put a line on the vessel and tried unsuccessfully to tow her into deeper water. A few days later she was successfully salvaged by Captain Fred MacFarlane, Master of the deep sea salvage tug Snohomish (and the elder brother of Captain George A. MacFarlane). The L.&H. (ON#151066) (48.7’ x 11.1’ x 5.3’ 22gt. 13rt. 105hp engine.) was built as the Insboy in 1923 in Vancouver BC. About 1960 she was renamed as the Point Upwood and operated as a yacht. She was struck from the Register of Shipping on April 4, 1986.

L and H on the beach

Bystanders pick up gear being washed ashore from the L.&H. wreck. (Photo from the MacFarlane collection.)

Snohomish at L & H Wreck

The salvage tug Snohomish under Captain Fred MacFarlane, sends a line ashore to refloat the L&H. (Photo from the MacFarlane collection. )

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2011) The Wreck of the L.&H.. 2011.


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