|Definition: The SS Valencia was an iron-hulled passenger steamer built as a minor ocean liner for the Red D Line for service between Venezuela and New York City. She was built in 1882 by William Cramp and Sons, one year after the construction of her sister ship Caracas. She was a 1,598 ton vessel (originally 1,200 tons), 252 feet (77 m) in length. In 1897, the Valencia was deliberately attacked by the Spanish cruiser Reina Mercedes off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The next year, she became a coastal passenger liner on the U.S. West Coast and served periodically in the Spanish American War as a troopship to the Philippines
The S.S. Valencia was traveling an atypical route on a cloudy dark night. Because no stars were shining, the sailors could not employ celestial navigation, and therefore had to rely on dead reckoning. In their attempt to enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the sailors overshot the opening. The Valencia crashed on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, otherwise known as the Graveyard of the Pacific owing to its numerous shipwrecks. The Graveyard of the Pacific's rugged coastline and unpredictable weather (and possible supernatural players) have caused the destruction of over 2,000 vessels and claimed nearly a thousand lives.
As the crew members of the Valencia struggled to escape the sinking ship, they hastily deployed six lifeboats. In the chaos, they frantically lowered three full of men, but on the way down, each tipped, causing all the men to plunge into the water. Three of the lifeboats were successfully set onto the water, but two subsequently capsized, and one was never seen again.
Two rescue ships set out to find the remaining sailors on the sinking Valencia. When they came into view, the sailors jumped onto the only remaining life rafts, thinking they could reach the ships. However, the rescue ships turned around when they realized it would not be safe to approach the Valencia. Their last drops of hope extinguished, the sailors died at sea.
The Valencia's dramatic end has made it the subject of several local rumors and ghost stories. Six months after the incident, local Indians claimed to have seen a lifeboat with eight skeletons in a nearby sea cave at the shoreline of Pachena Bay. The mouth of the cave was obstructed by a large boulder and the cave was reported to be around 200 ft (61 m) deep. There was no definite explanation for the lifeboat's presence in the cave, but it was believed that high tide and had lifted the boat into the cave's mouth. Due to the dangerous seas outside the cave's mouth, the lifeboat along with its human remains were unable to be recovered. Local fisherman similarly reported lifeboats being rowed by skeletons of the Valencia's victims.
When transporting the survivors of the Valencia to Seattle, the City of Topeka stopped in the water to relay the news of Valencia's foundering to a passing vessel. Some observers onboard claimed they could make out the shape of Valencia within the black exhaust emanating from the City of Topeka's funnel. In 1910, the Seattle Times reported that sailors claimed to have seen a phantom ship resembling the Valencia near Pachena Point. The sailors observed waves washing over the phantom steamer as human figures held on to the ship's rigging for dear life. Similar apparitions were reported for years following the disaster.
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