Log #58r Pictographs and a wrecked yacht

October 12, 2014 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 58, The Logs

Log #58r Pictographs and a wrecked yacht

Montague Harbour, Galiano Island, B.C.

Sept. 29, 2014

This log takes us from spectacular Alison Sound back down Belize Inlet to a yacht wreck and out through the notorious Nakwakto Rapids back to Murray Labyrinth (see previous Log #58p) before setting off to our most northerly destinations above Cape Caution.



When we were leaving dramatic Alison Sound we stopped by a few ochre painted pictographs, one just west of Summers Bay on a south-facing north wall, and another near Belize Inlet. These were painted by the Nakwaktok First Nations tribe. The first one near Summers Bay shows a larger canoe facing six smaller ones. The main one near Belize Inlet shows on the lower right side an Orca, and at the upper end a three-masted vessel and several longboats indicating the conflict of the time. 

rock2 rock1


This petroglyph is believed to commemorate a Nakwaktok attack on the trading vessel Thornton in 1868, according to our Waggoner Cruising Guide Cruising the Secret Coast. Subsequently, their settlement at Village Cove on Mereworth Sound was shelled by a British gunboat in retaliation. The natives had dramatic rock faces on which they could portray their artistry.

Into Belize Inlet, we stopped at the Lemare Lake logging site as described in my last Log #58q, and continued to the west end, and around down past the notorious Nakwakto Rapids towards Nenahlmai Lagoon. loggingsiteThe rapids were tranquil as we passed them, especially as we were not going through them at this time. After the entrance to the 43 mile long Seymour Inlet we passed another logging site as we approached the long narrow entrance to Nenahlmai Lagoon.





Yacht Wreck

As we looked down towards the entrance we saw a large grey rock-like structure on one side of the entrance. Our charts showed no such exposed rock there. We thought this would be a rapids similar to what we experienced going through Hopetown Passage. We wanted to wait for slack high water, but could not determine when such was. As we got closer the grey rock-like object, we still could not make out what it really was

wreck1We anchored above the passage on a rocky bottom that did not have good holding. Judy stayed on board while I took the dinghy down to the narrow pass. As I approached I saw several bits of flotsam, pieces of wood and cabinetry, a few pieces of plastic, a wooden frame, and a large white piece of fiberglass with a small searchlight on its forward end. It looked like the foredeck of a power boat. As I entered the pass I saw the upturned hull of a luxurious 45 foot yacht. 





I circled around downstream of it and came up to it to see the upper side submerged onto some wreckage, fenders, miscellaneous flotsam, and a solid dinghy partially submerged beneath the wreckage, its 25 horsepower outboard without its cowling. I called out in case anyone was inside, but got no response.


Wrecked yacht

(note Veleda in the background)

I returned into the swift current back to Veleda to tell Judy what I found.

We called the Coast Guard on VHF to report it. I then dinghied up to the forestry camp a mile up the channel to see if anyone there knew about the wreck. No one was in the barge, but there were several trailers and another building on shore. I finally found one trailer occupied by a woman who was probably the camp cook. She knew the yacht was there a couple of days ago, but did not know anything about the crew.

By the time I returned to Veleda, three coast guard officials had arrived and were down at the wreck. I dinghied back down to see what they were doing. They asked if I had an axe or hatchet. I went back to Veleda to get ours. They proceeded to chop a hole in the hull, as it was the only way they could look inside to see if there were any bodies there.

wreck3Coast Guard chopping hole

While they were scrambling over the hulk, I took the dinghy into the lagoons to look around, as we were not going to try to take Veleda through the rapids, slack water or no. When I returned to the wreck, they had bashed the hole in the hull, determined that no one was aboard, and had proceeded to spray paint the word DERELICT on the upturned hull and the side.


Painted DERELICT (note bow thruster)


DERELICT on the bottom of the hull as well

They returned my hatchet and asked if I would send them some of the pictures I took for their files.

I do not know what the status of DERELICT means. Since the wreck is blocking the passage into the lagoons, it is a hazard to navigation. However since there is nothing inside the three large lagoons, it is likely that the boat will just be left there. I would assume it could be legally salvaged by anyone who could do so. Probably some First Nations or perhaps the loggers will salvage whatever they can get from it. Such salvage work would be very dangerous, but could be profitable. For example that 25 horsepower outboard could be removed, fixed up and sold. Getting into the hull to salvage anything in there would be a major effort of cutting into it from the exposed surface. Doing such in the swift currents running through that pass would be very risky.

The coast guard people did not know who the owner was or what happened to the crew. It was an American yacht, as I found an American flag attached to a broken flag staff floating along the shoreline. I retrieved a few other articles up and down the shoreline, including a couple of folding deck chairs, a fender, and a small carpet. I retrieved some cabinetry that was floating in open water and left it on the dock at the logging camp. The coast guard was not interested in taking or collecting any of the flotsam. A couple of other floating pieces I just threw onshore to prevent them from damaging any other boats that might venture in the area. This is a very remote area, totally uninhabited, no cottages, summer homes, marinas, or villages. The logging camp was the only habitation for miles around.

As the holding was not good where Veleda was anchored, we motored back to anchor for the night in Harriet Cove at the entrance to the long Seymour Inlet. Next day we returned through Nakwakto Rapids near slack water to anchor back in Murray Labyrinth for the night before heading further north around Cape Caution.