Tragic sinking of the S.S. PACIFIC, remembered by Capt. Oscar Scarf

S.S. PACIFIC with inset of survivor Scots Quartermaster Neil O’Henly. Ship lost Nov. 4, 1875 off Cape Flattery, WA.
Photo from the archives of the Saltwater People Historical Society©

“A native Victorian among the early Thermopylae Club members was Oscar Scarf, who was born in Esquimalt in 1864 and spent all his life on this coast and the adjacent waters.

In this yarn, he tells of a marine tragedy that once stunned Victoria. It was on November 4, 1873, that the steamship PACIFIC, loaded with nearly 300 passengers, set out from Victoria bound for San Francisco. A few hours later she was seen by a boy from the beach at Otter Point, and yet another few hours and she, and all but two aboard her, were lost, victims of a glancing blow from a sailing ship which after the collision, sped into the darkness unaware that the damage she had inflicted was more than minor character. It was, in fact, to prove fatal.

For the sail-powered ORPHEUS indeed the main need seemed to be to attend to her own repairs, wasted effort as it turned out, for a few hours later she too became a total loss near Cape Beale on the west coast. However, fate was kinder to her for not a life was lost.

In Victoria the next day relatives and friends of the hundreds on the PACIFIC went peacefully about their business, unaware that those to whom they had yesterday waved goodbye were already corpses.

Read the full post on Saltwater People Log.


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