Friday, 9 October 2015

Waratah - Captain Tickell's moving account.

The Mercury, Tuesday 19 April, 1910
Captain Frederick Tickell, whose sonwas a passenger on the Waratah on herlast voyage, states that he saw the vessel leave Port Melbourne on July 1, 1909.She was perfectly upright, and had nosign of a list. He saw the Waratah proceeding astern of the Pilbarra, on whichhe was a passenger from Port Adelaide,down river to Largs Bay on July 6. Hewatched her with a professional eye, andat no time did she give him the impression of a tender ship. She remained perfectly upright oven when going roundthe bends, and at a time when the rudderwas over, and the tug which was assistingher was broad on the bow.
Captain Tickell's account remains one of the most important eye witness testimonies from the time. This was a man who had lost his only son with the Waratah. If there was going to be a witness with a grudge against the flagship, surely it should have been he? 
Captain Tickell commented on a vessel, ready for sea, which was completely stable from a metacentric height point of view. If Captain Tickell resented the loss of his son on a ship which had acquired a reputation of top heaviness, he did not allow this to cloud his judgment and account.
Of all the myriad accounts, this one probably gives the clearest and most accurate account of the Waratah, which did not go to sea top heavy and 'light'.

Largs Bay

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Waratah - further thoughts on the Harlow account.

If the Harlow account is to be believed, there could be a clear explanation for no wreckage or survivors coming ashore after the Waratah foundered.

The Harlow account hinges specifically on the section of water directly off Cape Hermes and Port St Johns. Let's say for argument's sake that Captain Bruce of the Harlow, misjudged his position relative to the Cape Hermes.

If the Harlow was in reality further northeast of Cape Hermes, by as little as 4 to 8.7 nautical miles, the coast line topography changes dramatically. The photograph below shows Cathedral Rock 8.7 nautical miles northeast of Port St Johns. It is very clear that there would be no access to shore if the Waratah went down further northeast. Any wreckage would have been battered against the rocks at the base of the towering cliffs. Unfortunately the same would apply to any souls who had managed to escape the Waratah.

If this were the case, there is clear explanation and reason for the Waratah disappearing without a trace.

Cornet scouts were sent out to scour the Wild Coast in search of wreckage from the Waratah. How were they expected to gain access to the coast line, as depicted??

I believe the search for the Waratah should include the block of ocean extending about 10 nautical miles northeast of Port St Johns. There is every chance that the wreck will be discovered there!!

...and oh yes, it would also explain why the light keepers at Cape Hermes saw and heard nothing.

Waratah - Pilot Bowe

The Mercury, Tuesday 19 April, 1910

Pilot Bowe, of Williamstown, who tookthe vessel from Port Melbourne throughthe Heads, states that she appeared tobe staunch, and in every way fit for thevoyage. He saw no sign of a list, nordid she appear to be tender.
The majority of port pilots described the same thing regarding the Waratah. There were no overt signs of GM (top heaviness) instability when the Waratah departed the various ports. 

Waratah - reduced buoyancy.

The Mercury, Tuesday 19 April, 1910
Edward Dischler, a barman, of Sydney,said that he was an able seaman onthe Waratah on the last voyage fromLondon to Sydney. Seamen in Londonadvised him not to join the vessel, andhe was told that Capt. Ilbery had saidthat either his reputation or thevessel would be lost. Mr. Owentold the men not to step too hardon the bottoms of the boats whenthey were painting them. 
He found one boat so soft and rotten that it would not take paint. Fire drill was never practised. 
In the Bay of Biscay the vessel wasrolling very badly. She appeared to bedead in the water, and to have a difficulty in keeping on an even keel. She couldnot ride head seas at all, but bumpedher nose right down into the trough ofwater, and seas broke right over her. Hewould not complete his voyage in her because he considered she was absolutelyunsafe. At Sydney he got a man to takehis place, and was paid off on June 10,1909. 
This commentary is one of a few describing the Waratah as dead in the water, bumping her nose right down into the trough of water, with seas breaking over her.
Whichever theory is postulated explaining the loss of theWaratah, we have to take cognizance of the repeated description of the Waratah being 'dead in the water', and plowing through oncoming swells, with seas breaking over her.
There has to be an explanation for such performance, andfrom a physics point of view the only explanation must surely be reduced buoyancy, created by overloading and reduced air spacesbelow the spar deck (buoyant force). Further to this, the free boardof 8 ft. on the Waratah created limited reserve buoyancy. If cargo loading took precedence one does wonder if all the water tight doorswere closed while the Waratah was at sea. It might not have beenthe case..... 


Waratah - Antarctic hoax.

A Capetown message says that thenotorious disappearance of the steamer Waratah and her passengers; and crew some years ago off the South African coast; has been recalled by the picking up of a bottle in Table Bay. The bottle had apparently beena long time in the water and was stopped up by a piece of lead beaten into the mouth. Inside was a piece of paper on which was written in pencil:
"Send help, starving, Waratah, Islandin Antarctic." 
It is generally believed to be a hoax.
The sad thing about hoax bottle messages, of which there were so many during this time period, is that should there be a genuine one, skepticism ruled and chances are that it would be ignored.

Waratah - bilge keels

At daylight to-day the, new steamer Waratah, of 9300 tons - the latest addition to Lunds'Blue Anchor fleet will arrive at Sydney onher maiden voyage from London, via Capetown, with a record number of passengers in both classes. 
On arrival she will berth at tho CentralWharf at Miller's Point.
The Waratah is classed 100 A1 at Lloyd's, andher principal dimensions are - length 480ft,breadth 60ft, and depth 38ft.  She is dividedinto seven watertight compartments, and hasa cellular double bottom extending practically the full length. In order to ensure thegreatest amount of comfort in heavy seas thevessel is fitted with bilge keels, as are all the other ships of the fleet.

bilge keel

do you see a bilge keel?

Waratah - new flagship

The Advertiser (Adelaide) Wednesday 16 December, 1908
A vessel, which during the past fewmonths has been the subject of much discussion in shipping circles is the steamerWaratah. the latest addition to the fleet ofthe well-known Lund's Blue Anchor line.
She was reported as having passed CapeBenin signal station at 6.30 p.m. on Monday , and her arrival at Port Adelaide onTuesday morning was awaited with a gooddeal of interest; and, while she lay at herberth at Ocean Steamers' Wharf, she attracted considerable attention. The Waratah was not due at Port Adelaide until Wednesday, and her early arrival occasioned surprise. When she reached the wharf shortly before 8 o'clock on Tuesday morning her decks were crowded to the utmost by passengers. There were 780 people on board; mostly immigrants, of whom 57 were booked to disembark at the chief seaport. Hitherto Australian nomenclature hasbeen freely adapted for vessels of the BlueAnchor line, the Waratah securing hername after the national wildflower of New South Wales which grows in abundance,and has a crimson bloom of great brilliancy. 
The new liner is a twin screw steel vessel of 9,300 tons gross, and approximately 2,000 tons larger and 14 feet longer than the company's steamer Geelong, which is well known in the Australian service. The dimensions are: — 
Waratah, 465 ft. in length, 59.2 ft. in breadth,and 35.1 ft. in depth. Geelong, length450 ft.; breadth.54.5 ft.; depth, 26.9 ft. 
The Waratah complies with the highest requirements of the Board of Trade for passengers, and is classed 100 Al at Lloyd's. She is divided into seven watertight compartments, and has a cellular bottom extending her whole length, and in order to secure a maximum of steadiness in heavy seasshe is fitted with bilge keels.