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Historic Shipwreck Profile: Additional Information on Wreck Event

Harlech Castle


Newspaper clipping from New York Herald 11Sep1869 of shipwreck Harlech Castle

Source: The New York Herald (New York, NY), 11 Sept 1869, p. 7, col. 3.
Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Washington, DC.


THE PACIFIC COAST. Wreck of a British Bark...
San Francisco, Sept. 10, 1869. Particulars of the wreck of the British bark Harlech Castle, on the Southern coast, have been received. The vessel, during a heavy fog, struck a sunken rock not laid down in the chart and soon after disappeared. Nothing was saved. Two sailors were drowned.

Source (no image): Humboldt Times, 18 Sept 1869, Martin.


The English ship Harlech Castle sailed from San Francisco for Iquiqui, Peru, on 16th of July with a cargo of barley. Experienced heavy weather most of the time until August 29th, when she struck a sunken rock off San Simeon, San Luis Obispo County, and sunk the following morning. Vessel and cargo a total loss. Two seamen were lost by swamping of a boat. Captain and survivors arrived at San Francisco on the 8th.

Newspaper clipping from Daily Alta California 14Jun1870 of shipwreck Harlech Castle

Source: Daily Alta California (San Francisco, CA), 14 Jun 1870, p. 1, col. 1.
Courtesy of California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside.


The recent disaster near Point Gorda revives the recollection of similar accidents, and especially of the "Harlech Castle," near Piedras Blancas. In his report the Captain of that vessel reported that "about 2 P.M. his vessel struck upon a sunken rock, five miles north of Piedras Blancas, and three miles off shore, * * * * and that next morning nothing of her was visible." He said the rock had a depth of fourteen feet upon it at low water, with deep water all round it, and twenty-five fathoms between it and the shore.

The facts in that disaster are, that he saw the coast at daylight in the morning; the vessel struck upon a rock having five feet of water upon it at high water at 2 P.M., and lying a quarter of a mile within the line of kelp. This rock is visible at low water, and is distant about one mile from the shore, which here makes a trend of over a mile to the eastward, so that the vessel was a quarter of a mile inside the straight line between Piedras Blancas and the point five miles to the northward. There is a depth of ten to twelve fathoms, and patches of kelp for nearly a mile outside this rock; while inside the depth decreases from eight to five and three fathoms within a distance of three-eighths of a mile from shore.

It will strike any one that a rock upon which a break can occur will be very apt to be known to navigators, when steamers are every day passing close along our bold shores; and disasters, such as that of the Harlech Castle, Sierra Nevada and Active must be attributed to other causes than what are known as outlying rocks dangerous to navigation.

Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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