Brotchie Light marks Brotchie Ledge is a submerged reef in the Strait of Juan de Fuca one-half mile south of the entrance to Victoria harbour. It remains underwater even at low tide and is a major hazard for ships approaching or leaving Victoria. Since 1843, a variety of markers have warned ships away from the dangerous rocks. The nautical chart above locates Brotchie Ledge in relation to the shore.
Between the founding of Fort Victoria in1843 and 1898 a variety of markers have warned ships away from the dangerous ledge, then Buoy Rock. Notably among them was the beacon lit every evening and extinguished each morning that gave Beacon Hill Park its name. In 1849. When the Hudson’s Bay’s Captain William Brotchie ran the barque Albion onto Buoy Rock it was renamed Brotchie Rock.
In addition to its primary purpose, warning vessels of the presence of Brotchie Ledge, the beacon serves as a prominent geographical reference point for pilots. Scuba divers, fishermen, yachtsmen and government agencies. Brotchie Ledge is listed as a Pilot Boarding Station for ships entering the compulsory pilotage area. Diving websites and information suggest diving Brotchie Ledge to see old bottles and remains of the San Pedro shipwreck.
The wreck of the San Pedro
The ill-fated San Pedro on Brotchie Ledge
In 1891 the collier San Pedro ran aground on the ledge. During the six years the ship remained on the ledge, the vessel itself was the navigational marker. Each evening a watchman rowed out to hang a lighted lantern on her foremast and took it down each evening.
In 1898 Captain Otto Buckholtz completed construction of the first permanent beacon. The thirty-foot diameter caisson stood twelve feet above high tide and was equipped with an electric light fabricated by Albion Iron Works. In 1970, 72 years after its construction, three major changes were made on the beacon: the light’s colour was changed from white to green; the beacon was equipped with an automatic fog detector; and a windmill was installed to power the light and horn.
After 91 years wave action had undermined the beacon’s base, so September,1989 a new beacon replaced it. A month later C.K.S. Construction Tug and Barge Company removed the old beacon. Concrete was poured on the southwest part of the ledge in August and the project was completed in September. The beacon’s cylindrical white fiberglass tower stands 12.4 meters above high water and is topped with a green band and a 360° light flashing once every four seconds.
September 2005 maintenance record indicate the beacon’s two green flasher type bulbs are powered by two 48 W solar panels, connected to six S-2000 batteries and a and a sun switch.