Great Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast

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9780471384205: Great Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast

Fascinating, never-before-documented stories of the worst shipwrecks on the Pacific Coast during the golden age of coastal transportation, 1854 to 1929

In this intriguing chronicle, author Robert Belyk closely examines ten significant maritime disasters that occurred during one of the most turbulent eras in the history of travel. Discover the real-life drama endured by those caught in the terrifying midst of disaster at sea and the real causes behind the tragedies. Vividly re-created and painstakingly researched, the shipwrecks accounted for here include:
* 1854: the Yankee Blade runs aground off Point Arguello, California.Twenty-eight passengers lose their lives.
* 1875: The old side-wheeler Pacific rams another passenger ship off the coast of Cape Flattery, Washington. Two hundred and seventy-seven people perish when her rotting hull gives way.
* 1906: The Valencia strikes a reef off the Washington coastline. Before dozens of dazed onlookers on the shore, the ship goes down, taking 117 passengers and crew with her.

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From the Inside Flap:

The eighty years spanning the California gold rush to the start of the Great Depression saw thousands of passengers and crews perish in Pacific steamship wrecks. Yet despite the alarming number of incidents during this period, few have asked just why so many ships were lost. In Great Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast, author Robert Belyk looks beyond commonly provided——and frequently superficial——public explanations of weather conditions or human error, and closely examines ten significant maritime disasters that occurred along the Pacific coastline from California to Alaska.

Filled with the drama of life and death aboard doomed ships, Belyk brings to life the struggles of real people caught in desperate situations when disaster strikes at sea. In 1865, only 19 of the 204 passengers and crew on board survived the wreck of the Brother Jonathan, whose owners had been more concerned with maximum profitability than with the safety of their passengers. When, in 1907, the Columbia disappeared under the ocean surface in just eight minutes after ramming another passenger ship, her poorly maintained iron hull simply gave out, leading to the deaths of 87 passengers. And in 1918, all 353 of the ship’s passengers and crew drowned when the Princess Sophia, a victim of bad navigation, bad weather, and bad judgment, struck a reef and sank. As these tales of disaster at sea unravel, never-before-told details reveal how those involved——heroes as well as cowards——reacted under such terrifying circumstances. Along with information drawn from contemporary sources and documented reports, these accounts lay bare the causes behind the tragedies, from carelessness and ill-equipped, unseaworthy ships to politics, personal greed, and pride.

Both intriguing reading and invaluable historical record, this chronicle of a tumultuous era illustrates the ironic fate encountered by those who believed they would exchange the hardships of overland travel for the relative safety and comfort of an ocean voyage.

About the Author:

ROBERT C. BELYK is a writer specializing in history and folklore. He is the author of three books, including the bestselling Ghosts: True Stories from British Columbia. Belyk lives in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada.

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Robert C. Belyk
Published by Wiley (2001)
ISBN 10: 0471384208 ISBN 13: 9780471384205
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