The Nanette was a made-in-Canada barque. She was laid down in 1856 at Toussaint Valin’s shipyard on the River St. Charles, Quebec City. Her launching was June 10, 1857.
This all-wood barque had three masts, two decks, a deckhouse, and a square stern. Her hull measured 118.1 ft long, 28.55 feet. wide and 17.52 deep. She displaced 385.65 tons under the new registration system, 434 tons under the old. Her fitting included a windlass, an iron capstan, two metal pumps, and carved women as the figurehead.
On June 30, 1860 the Nanette left London for Victoria. She stopped at Liverpool and perhaps other points along the way. Soon after leaving England, Captain Main was stricken by dysentery. He was so ill, and inquiry later heard, that “when he came on deck he could scarcely stand erect.” First mate William McCulloch was in actual command for most of the voyage. The Nanette entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Saturday, December 20, 1860.
McCulloch told the Victoria Colonist what happened. “About 6 o’clock on Saturday evening, while in the Straits, supposing the ship to be about three miles from the American shore, and opposite Race Rocks, shortened sail and hove to; it was thick at the time, and we could not see the Rocks; headed northwestward, and supposed that she would drift as far as the mouth of the harbour by the morning with the tide; at eight o’clock saw a light-bearing N by W. 1/2 W. (Esquimalt light); could not find the light marked on the chart. at 8 1/2 o’clock it cleared somewhat, and then saw the point of Rack Rocks for the first time, but no light; called all hands on deck as we found the ship was in a counter-current, and drifting at the rate of seven knots towards the shore……..
For more information on the Nanette and other shipwrecks of Southern Vancouver Island, go to: UASBC.Com. You can order the publication Historic Shipwrecks of Southern Vancouver Island from the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia publications.