Village of Belcarra

More sunken ships found in Bedwell Bay

By Jennifer McFee - Vancouver Sun

Deep under the waters of Bedwell Bay, history meets mystery in a graveyard of sunken ships, including two new wrecks documented earlier this month.

In mid-April, divers from the Shipwreck Exploration Team descended to murky depths in Bedwell Bay, located next to the Village of Belcarra near the start of Indian Arm.

They had been planning to shoot a video of the four known wrecks sunken in the area. But when they asked the Canadian Hydrographic Service for a sonar scan of Bedwell Bay, they discovered two more mystery targets.

Technical diver Dirk De keersmaecker was on the team that descended more than 100 feet to explore the underwater remains of a large wooden ship.

"We saw a really large object. It was close to 100 feet long, six to eight feet wide, but it didn't really look like a ship ... It's probably over 100 years old.

That's the reason why there's so little left of it. Basically there's the beam left, some of the decking, some of the side beams, but the rest of the hull is actually gone and there's none of the super structures present anymore," said De keersmaecker, a New Westminster resident.

"It is quite thrilling if it is indeed 100 years old. We're very curious of what it can be. We'll have to do some future dives and do some more measurements and look at all the artifacts that are there to try to figure out the history."

De keersmaecker and the other divers hired a local charter service to bring them to the other submerged target, located on the other side of Bedwell Bay.

"It was a barge that was upside down. We do have the video. We do have the measurements. So the work is, of course, trying to figure out what it was used for. Normally a metal barge like this is a maximum [of] 40 years old," he said. "If it is a fresh sunken barge, then somebody might salvage it, repair it and use it again.

Now if it's been down there for 20 or 30 years, which we think this one probably has, then it's too rusted to use again so they would probably just leave it there. Very likely, nobody wants to admit that they own the barge because then they have to bring it up."

Jacques Marc, explorations director for the Underwater Archeological Society of B.C., said Bedwell Bay has historically been a dumping ground for abandoned vessels.