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The Pass Of Melfort

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The Pass of Melfort was a majestic ship born in Glasgow Scotland in 1891.

The four masted steel barque sailing ship was built for Gibson & Clark for the purpose of transporting cargo.

Although ships at this time were being powered by internal combustion engines, it is thought that this vessel was built as a sailing ship to enable it to greatly increase the amount of cargo it could carry. The ship was a 2346 ton vessel.

There does not seem to be any recorded documents about the ships voyages, until the night she struck the jagged reefs and alas she met with her fateful end, along with her 36 crew members including her Captain Harry Scougall.

In her last assignment, she was helping in the construction of the new Panama Canal. Her role was to transport rocks from Puget Sound down to the Canal. On her very last trip northbound, she was empty travelling back up from Panama to collect more rocks, on the very night of Christmas December 25th 1905, she got caught in a huge southwest gale which changed her course from the entrance to the Strait of Juan De Fuca to the outer shores of Ucluelet where she ran a ground on the savage jagged rocks of Jenny Reef which lye before you.

There were no survivors.

The ships Bell was recovered in the late 1960’s by the members of the Ucluelet Wreck Checkers and a replica has been added to the navigation buoy as a constant reminder of the perils of the ocean.

The following is a story observed by Captain Olsen in the wake of that ill fated night… “Thirty-eight days after setting off from Panama, the Pass of Melfort met up with Captain Olsen and the British bark Broderick Castle off Southern California. The Captains signaled that they were both headed to the Puget Sound, but when Captain Olsen landed at Port Townsend, he was surprised to learn the Pass of Melfort wasn’t there. Olsen speculated that the Pass of Melfort had been caught in the storm he encountered off the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where he had to perform “the toughest bit of sailing he had ever done.”

The Pass of Melfort had missed the Strait and was driven further north by the relentless storm. First Nation people saw a distress rocket over the Uncluth Peninsula on the north shore of Barkley Sound just before dawn on Christmas Day and paddled with the news to the village of Ucluelet.

Both settlers and members of the First Nation scoured the area for signs of a ship, and soon discovered the grim remnants of the Pass of Melfort ship on a reef, just east of Amphitrite Point, fifty yards from shore. Even as they were combing the shore in hopes of finding survivors, the monstrous seas continued to batter the rocks and “rush into the bay as though in a tide race.” No survivors were found.

Just two weeks before the wreck, the whistling buoy marking the reef had disappeared in heavy seas…” The ‘whistling buoy’ was replaced and additional buoy’s we’re added; including what we know fondly refer to as our ‘Melfort Bell’ in the waters by our home.

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