San Pedro Shipwreck Southern Vancouver Island

San Pedro was an iron screw steamer that was launched in Philadelphia in November 1882 by the Wm Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company.  She was delivered to the Pacific Improvement Company of San Francisco, a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad.  They owned her for her whole career.

She was reputed to be the fastest and best collier on the North Pacific.  Although rated at 3119 tons gross, she could carry over 4000 tons of cargo.   Captain C.H. Hewitt became her master at least as early as 1886.

On November 22, 1891 the San Pedro departed Comox for San Francisco.  Filling the hold were 4,000 tons of coal.  Sharing the bridge were Captain Hewitt and a pilot, Captain James Christensen, Sr.

At 8:30 pm they neared Victoria’s outer harbour.  A boat was to be waiting half-mile from entrance to take off the pilot.  Just east of the rendezvous point lured Brotchie Ledge, a reef named after an unfortunate captain who stranded his barque on it in 1849.

The water was calm, the night was clear, but the glare of city lights made it hard to see.  The San Pedro came in dead slow, looking for a buoy that marked the reef.  Unexpectedly, the lookout signalled something head.  The pilot assumed it was his boat.  it turned out to be the buoy and before anyone could react, the vessel bumped on the Brotchie Lidge.

For more information on the San Pedro 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.

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