Achates Shipwreck Vancouver Island

The Achates was a wooden steam tug built by H.H. Allen of Vancouver, BC in 1908.  She was 100′ long by 22.9′ in breadth and had an 11.5′ depth of hold.  At the time of launching, she measured 208 tons gross and 141 tons registered.  She was carvel-built, had a single mast forward of the wheelhouse, a straight stem, and an elliptical stern.

Dozens of tugs the size of the Achates were built in the early 1900s.  Most spent their life towing log booms, delivering barges, or servicing canneries.  The Achates spent the better part of her life towing log booms and barges to various destinations up and down the BC coast.  Occasionally, she ventured south of the border and on at least one instance towed a barge as far north as Portland Canal.  One notable event that stands out in her career is her rescue of the crew of the tug Shamrock, which stuck Vivian Island (near Powell River) and sand December 11, 1926.   Little else is know of Achates’ operating history.

On June 4, 1930, the Achates departed Menzies Bay bound for the Red Gap Mill in Nanoose Harbour with a log boom in tow.  On the evening of June 7, the Achates laid up for the night with its to in Quadra Island’s Gowlland Harbour, directly opposite Campbell River.  All the crew had turned in for the evening except a watchman in the engine room.

According to the wreck report, the watchman left the engine room for a few minutes and on his return at 11:10 pm found a fire blazing fiercely.  He called all hands but they were unable to get below to start the pumps or even reach inside the engine room door to get the chemical fire extinguishers.  After all attempts to save the vessel failed, Captain Thorvald Aaroe and his crew of eight abandoned Achates.  Consumed by fire, she sank at 1:30 AM on June 8, 1930, in eleven fathoms of water.   She was valued at $35,000 and was insured for $32,000

For more information on the Achates and other shipwrecks on the Northeastern Vancouver Island, go to: UASBC.Com. You can order the publication Historic Shipwrecks of the Northeastern Vancouver Island from the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia publications.

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