Type of Dive: Boat Dive
General Description: Barnard Castle was an iron steam screw collier
built in 1878 in England. It was 260 ft. long, and able to carry 2500 tons
of cargo. In the Atlantic, Barnard Castle saw duty as a grain and cattle
carrier between Liverpool and New York. It is believed the ship also
ferried coal from England to the Near East. In 1879 it was used to ferry
troops and supplies for Chilie in the war against Peru. In 1881 R.
Dunsmuir & Sons charter the ship to run coal from Nanaimo to San
Francisco, and in October 1886 they bought her outright. The steamer
hit Rosedale Reef 2 Nov 1886 but the Captain was able to limp to
Bentinck Island and beach it in Pilot Bay where it eventually sank after
numerous salvage attempts.
In 1992 the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia
(UASBC) completed an underwater interpretive trail around the wreck
placing eight plaques at various points of interest along the wreck. Each of these plaques describes a particular artifact along with a map showing your current location.
Location: This wreck is located in Pilot Bay of Bentinck Island, just west of Pedder Bay.
Access: For this dive, the Aquarius Too Dive Boat usually picks up divers at Pedder Bay Marina Boat Ramp located at 925 Pedder Bay Drive:
Depth: The wreck lies in about 40 feet of water.
What to See: Even after 130 years on the bottom and the multiple salvage attempts, this is still an interesting dive. The bow, stern and boilers are recognizable and various artifacts such as deck plates, hull walls and a propeller can be found. Also, with a full load of cargo, coal can be found strewn throughout the wreck site. As for sea life, large schools of black rockfish, fields of eelgras, Puget Sound King Crabs, kelp greenlings, buffalo sculpins, seals and all the other regular characters found in the area can be seen here.
Currents and Other Dangers: This shallow dive is well within recreational limits however, caution must be used due to the strong tidal currents that can be felt primarily on an Ebb flow.
Dive Certification: Although really just an Open Water Dive, given the currents in the area, it is recommended that this dive be attempted only by Advanced Open Water Divers, or Open Water Divers under the supervision of a Dive Master. The Advanced Open Water Dry Suite qualification is also recommended for this dive.