Valencia Macabre phantom ship that haunts the sea off the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

The Valencia was a steamship owned by the American Steamship Line. On January 20, 1906, it left San Francisco harbor, bound for Seattle via Victoria, B.C. Aboard were 94 passengers and 60 crew. A few minutes before midnight on January 22, tragedy struck when the ship hit a submerged reef off Pachena Bay on Vancouver Island. A swift sinking would have been merciful to the terrified people onboard, but those on the Valencia died an agonizing death. It became wedged between rocks, which, combined with high seas, prevented rescue ships from reaching the vessel. Rescuers watched helplessly as the pounding sea slowly tore the Valencia to pieces.

Passengers struggled to avoid their fate. For most of them, their valiant struggles were futile. One by one, they slipped into the sea and drowned. A few survivors managed to climb the rigging, but many of them, too, were claimed by the waves. Some held on for two days before drowning. In the end, only 37 of the 154 persons were rescued.

Ghostly activity appeared immediately. The City of Topeka picked up survivors and took them to Seattle. En route it met an outward-bound ship and slowed to relay the news of the wreck. Very little wind was present and the black smoke from the City of Topeka’s stacks settled over the water in a thick cloud. To the horror of everyone on board, a phantom ship emerged out of the smoke—the shape of the Valencia was recognizable.

For years, seamen passing by the spot where the Valencia met its end saw a wrecked phantom ship with the spectral forms of people clinging to the rigging. Fishermen reported seeing ghostly lifeboats moving across the water, manned by skeletons.

An odd twist to the haunting was a reported discovery made by Indians who were exploring caves near Pachena Bay. According to lore, they found a lifeboat containing eight skeletons floating inside a large cave. A boulder partially blocked the cave entrance, indicating that the boat would have had to have been lifted into the cave. How and why it got there remains a mystery. The boat and skeletons were left there.


  • Belyk, Robert C. Ghosts: True Tales of Eerie Encounters. Victoria, B.C.: Horsdal & Schubart, 2002.

The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007

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