Ride to the SS Florizel Wreck Site

The Southern Shore of Newfoundland is known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”, because of the sheer number of shipwrecks dating back hundreds of years. The remnants of some of these wrecks are still clinging to the coastline, with perhaps the most famous being the SS Florizel.

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The SS Florizel, circa 1909. Photo credit: branchlines.tripod.com

The pride of Bowring Brothers, the Florizel was made of steel and one of the first ships in the world specifically designed to navigate the icy waters of Newfoundland. She was a passenger vessel, but was used each spring to transport men to the seal hunt and was one of the rescue ships during the Great 1914 Sealing Disaster. She was also used to transport soldiers to the battlefields of World War I, carrying the first 540 volunteers – the  “Blue Puttees”  – across the Atlantic in October of 1914.

The Florizel left St. John’s on her last voyage on February 23, 1918. She carried 78 passengers and 66 crew, destined for Halifax and New York. It wasn’t long into the voyage that the weather took a turn for the worse, and the Florizel ran into the rocks near Cappahayden where 94 people perished.

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The Florizel, aground and breaking up. Photo credit: newfoundlandshipwrecks.com

*****

I had never been to the Florizel wreck site, and really wanted to visit and take pictures while there was still something left of the ship. Cappahayden is about 100km south of St. John’s, then you turn off and take what I would call a “4×4 road” for a few minutes. The road is in good condition and was no trouble for the Vstrom and Versys.

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The dreaded water crossing.

We left St. John’s with the temperature in the mid-twenties, but it was only about 12 degrees C. at the Florizel site. It was also very foggy, which added to the eeriness of the experience. There’s not much left of the ship after 96 years of exposure to the elements, but there’s enough to feel a connection with those who were lost.

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Thick, wet fog at the wreck site

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I’m assuming this was probably part of the steel hull.

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There is more wreckage than what’s visible, it’s been buried by high seas and vegetation growth.

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Who out there has a picture of their motorcycle framed by part of a shipwreck?

If you’ve never been to the Florizel wreck site, I urge you to go soon, before she fully returns to the earth. The wreck site is littered with small pieces of rusted steel, so before we left I made sure to take a souvenir along with a piece of driftwood on which to mount it. Alongside Cassie Brown’s “A Winter’s Tale” (which I bought just last week) it makes a great conversation piece.

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I’m really looking forward to reading the book

 

 

 

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Posted on July 6, 2014, in Roads of Newfoundland and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I liked that book. Then again, I love reading about disasters at sea, for some reason. ;-/

  2. Enjoyed speaking with you and Mark the other evening Krista. Again a great Blog entry; Nfld. has some fascinating history for sure … love that you rescued a little piece of the Florizel to display in your home! You guys might want to check out the shipwrecks from WW2 over at Lance Cove, Bell Is. … more souveniers to liberate over there!
    Cheers & TTYS.

  3. Krista:

    I find it sad to think of all those young lives lost, and all that’s left is corroding metal pieces

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

  4. krista

    I am always saddened to think that so many people were lost before their time and not be able to enjoy life when catastrophies happen

    bob skoot

  1. Pingback: My Top 10 Newfoundland Travel Tips | Ride Newfoundland

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