Wednesday, 30 October 2013


Finally we come to the end of the witness accounts from the Inquiry into the loss of the Waratah. In addition to these accounts, there are two further anecdotes of interest:

George W. Hodder, chief engineer on the Waratah, was warned against sailing on the Waratah by his father, Captain George L.G.A. Hodder.

According to the story handed down by the Hodders, Captain George Hodder, after observing the Waratah in port, remarked to his son:

"She would turn turtle in rough weather and will go quickly if she goes"

George junior was seen off by his wife wearing a green dress. In shipping circles of the time, this was not the 'done thing'.

George Hodder was lost with the Waratah, never to see his unborn child.

Admiral Davis commented on the Waratah's tendency to 'dive' into oncoming swell, taking on a significant volume of water over the bow, which allegedly 'ran off' very slowly. The Admiral also commented that he had been on many vessels and had never known a steamer to recover so slowly.

In my opinion this tendency was a result of being heavily laden with reduced freeboard and buoyancy, +/- heavy in the bow.

I have tallied the Inquiry witness accounts into three groups:

1)  those in favour of the Waratah in terms of stability and expectations of a steamship of that era (56%)

2)  those against the Waratah in terms of perceptions that she was 'faulty' and 'unstable' (36%)

3)  those who noted her performance peculiarities, but believed the Waratah to be stable overall (8%)

The results have been assimilated into a pie chart which at a glance reveals that the majority of witnesses believed that the Waratah was stable and safe.

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