Black Reef, Cook Inlet

Black Reef is on the west shore of Cook Inlet, about 1 mile (1.6 km) offshore, between the entrances to Iniskin Bay and Iliamna Bay, and about 18 miles (29 km) north of Augustine Island. This was the site of a mid-winter shipwreck and an incredible tale of survival.

In the early morning of 5 January 1910, the steamship Farallon struck and ran aground on the reef at high tide. As the tide receded, the ship settled on the reef and broke apart. All 38 men were evacuated to the shore of Iliamna Bay through heavy surf and thick ice. The men faced relentless mid-winter cold and snow, and a lack of adequate food and provisions. The steamer Victoria finally rescued them on 3 February 1910, 29 days after they were stranded.

The ship had no radio and the survivors had no way to call or signal for help. So two days after the shipwreck, six men including the Farallon captain set out for Kodiak Island in a lifeboat only 12-feet long (3.7 m). The small rowboat stood no chance against the heavy seas and the men and boat soon became completely ice-coated. Luckily, the men were not far from shore, but the boat sank with almost all their provisions and they were forced to walk shoulder-high through the ice-cold water to shore at Cape Douglas. The men then marched overland to the native village of Kaguyak on the west shore of Shelikof Strait, where they found an old skiff buried in the snow. In this, they crossed Shelikof Strait and eventually reached Afognak on March 5, two months after the Farallon wreck. Read more here and here. Click here to download or open the CoastView app and explore more of Black Reef and lower Cook Inlet.