Barnard Castle Wreck, near Victoria, B.C.
The Barnard Castle Wreck is another interesting wreck dive site near Victoria and Sooke, on the southern tip of Vancouver Island and has made our list as one of Vancouver Island's Best dive sites..
It is situated in roughly 40 feet (12 meters) of water near other popular Victoria dive sites such as renowned Race Rocks and Swordfish Island.
It is a relatively easy boat dive if you are diving in Victoria as part of an experienced dive charter such as those put together by Pinnacle Dive Charters near Victoria.
While it is shallow, the area can be subject to strong tidal changes, winds, and fog so ensure you check the tides, weather conditions and local dive professionals before diving on the Barnard Castle wreck.
The Barnard Castle - The History
The SS Barnard Castle was a wooden iron steam screw coal ship built in 1878 back in England. The collier was 260 feet (79 meters) long and able to carry up to 2,500 tons of cargo.
She originally carried grain and cattle between Liverpool and New York, and coal from England to the Near East. She also ferried troops and supplies for Chile in the 1879 war against Peru.
In 1881, the Barnard Castle came to British Columbia, Canada when R. Dunsmuir & Sons chartered (and eventually bought) her to run coal between Nanaimo, British Columbia and San Francisco in California.
Five years later, on November 21, 1886, she hit the treacherous Rosedale Reef, near Race Rocks, where the frequent fog, strong tides, and variable winds sent many ships to their watery graves.
Fatally damaged, she ran for shore and beached in Pilot Bay, Bentinck Island. Though many salvage companies tried to raise the whole vessel, none succeeded, so they took what they could before she broke apart in the 1890's.
The Barnard Castle Wreck Site Now
The Barnard Castle wreck site is a boat dive and is fairly easy to find. It was marked with a buoy, but the buoy seems to disappear from time to time and isn't always there to be found.
Although she has been down for almost 125 years and was also damaged considerably during salvage attempts, she is still an interesting wreck dive and another great reason for diving in British Columbia.
While not in great shape, the bow, stern and boilers are still recognizable, with various other parts and artifacts such as pieces of deck plate, hull walls, and an iron screw that can be found in the area.
In 1992, the Underwater Archaelogical Society of British Columbia (UASBC) placed 8 plaques at significant points of interest around the wreck site. There are reports that they are hard to find now, so let us know if you were able to find all eight?
Each plaque identifies the artifact and provides a site map showing your current location on the Barnard Castle wreck area.
What really makes this wreck site interesting is the cargo. She was loaded with a large shipment of coal when she sank, with much of it strewn throughout the wreck site.
The large chunks of coal are generally light for their size, making them easy to move. And with pieces of bull kelp anchored to the coal boulders, some kelp floats are buoyant enough to lift the coal off the sea floor.
Imagine swimming along with large pieces of coal hanging suspended in mid water!?
You may also see large schools of Black rockfish, fields of eelgrass, Puget Sound King Crab and other types of crabs, Kelp Greenlings, Buffalo Sculpins, seals, and much more marine life in the area.
This is a unique dive site and is worth exploring while you enjoy your scuba diving vacation in British Columbia.
To be included as part of a dive charter to the Barnard Castle Wreck site, complete the contact form or fill in the form below and our preferred Victoria dive charter operator will contact you.
Wreck dives near Victoria, British Columbia - just another great reason that makes British Columbia a great dive destination for a scuba diving vacation.
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