Newspaper date November 30, 1915
Last of the Windjammers Goes Down:
Valliant Rescue Attempt Quashed by
the Mighty Sea
of the Pacific Claims Another Victim!
The Graveyard of the Pacific has claimed another victim!
On November 25, 1915 pitiless waves pummeled the Carelmapu.
The three-masted ship struggled nobly, until her back broke
off Gowland Rock, Schooner Cove, on the west coast of Vancouver
Captain Fernando Desolmes had guided
the ship from Valparaiso, Chile, to the Strait of Juan de
Fuca in ballast. They were uncertain of the ship’s
position as they approached the Vancouver Island coast in
darkness and rain. The bow lookout cried out that land was
near! The Carelmapu was just offshore! They drifted closer
and closer to the breakers as dangerous weather approached.
The captain thought fast. The only tools at his disposal
were the sails, which wagged useless from the yardarms after
shredding to tatters in the high winds. But wait! There
were still the anchors! The order was given, and both anchors
were dropped, catching on the ocean floor. They strained
against the fury of the ocean to hold the ship away from
the reefs lining the shore.
Maquinna Arrives for Rescue Attempt
The 24 souls on board the Carelmapu
flew the distress flags high atop
the masts and sent up rockets, hoping
against hope for rescue. Winds lashed
at the rigging, and the vessel dragged
towards the shore. The storm could
only spell her doom— was all
hope lost? But what was that approaching
through the squall? It was the Princess
Maquinna, Captained by Edward Gillam!
200 yards were all that stood between
the CPR steamer Maquinna and the Carelmapu as the brave
seamen pulled in close for the rescue, risking themselves
and their passengers. Captain Gillam hove a line towards
the distressed vessel and her crew. It missed the mark.
Again, the rescuers fired a thick hawser, what could prove
a life-line, to the Carelmapu, but this plan was not in
the cards. Gillam cried out to Desolmes. “Launch a
boat and we’ll stand by to pick it up.”
Two lifeboats hung from their davits off the stern. The
captain and his crew crowded around. The first group of
men piled in and swung off, suspended over the waves. Calamity!
The seaman working the ropes lost his grip! Suddenly, all
aboard went tumbling downwards, to be gobbled up by the
voracious waves. Another boat struggled to shove off, and
was making its way to the Maquinna. Their perilous escape
was foiled. Waves closed in over the boat, choking off life
with a salty wail.
The Carelmapu convulsed in the relentless
seas of a southeastern gale, then disappeared over a reef.
There was no sign of life amid the wreckage, and the Princess
Maquinna headed for shelter. The Government wireless relayed
the despair-filled message from a coastal radio post: “She
went by the board.”
Make the Beach, Meet Ship’s Dog
That storm was the death of the crew, almost to a man. But
not quite. Captain Desolmes, still lashed to the Carelmapu
as his men attempted escape, cut the ties that were keeping
him from being washed overboard. All the time thinking that
his end was near, he struggled on as the waves played with
his cold, tired body, sometimes dropping him to the bottom,
sometimes whipping him through the waters. Utterly spent,
he finally made the beach, where, miracle of miracles, he
discovered other survivors! The ship-owner’s son and
two sailors! As they warmed themselves with a fire, another
crewmember staggered into their midst. Even the ship’s
dog struggled to shore. They had won back their lives from
The wind-powered “windjammer”
ships saw their last with the wreck of the Carelmapu. But
a mighty wreck it was.
Issue: The Ericsson