Monday, 14 October 2013

Waratah - Captain Ilbery rushed off to stop his piano.

Contrasting negative impressions about the Waratah's performance were about to be aired at the Inquiry:

Herbert Comer.  Steward (4 years liner experience) -

'Left because he did not like the ship'

'She had a list nearly all the time'

'Would stop for a day or two on the same side, then go to the other side, and stop for a day or two'

'No excessive rolling' 

Edgar H. Pask.  Officers' servant on Waratah.  Thereafter, captain of a racing yacht - 

'I certainly thought she was top heavy'

'She had a long roll.  She was a long while coming up at times, and she never seemed to be upright' 

'If there was a little air of wind she would simply lie on one side, and, if a blow of wind came, the other side, and sometimes if she got upright she was just as likely to drop on the other side'

'She rolled excessively for the weather, a slow roll'

'She was a good while lying down and a long while coming back'

Yes, I think he may have already made this point...

'A slow recovery but no jerk'

Important observation. The 'jerk' was a manifestation of a vastly improved GM by the final voyage - not on the maiden voyage.

'She always had a slight list away from the wind'

'It was a long steady roll centre through, and then came back slowly to the other side'

'She would have a list even when the wind was ahead'

One gets the impression that Mr Pask had a point to make and was inclined to mention the 'problematic' list and roll more than once for good measure. Perhaps being officers' servant was not all that it was cut out to be on the Waratah, hence his going into yacht racing and portraying the Waratah in a bad light or list?

Gerald Steele. Passenger (had made 15 passages to America) - 

'She appeared to me to be top heavy.  She did not roll comfortably'

'She would get down on either side, and hang there before she recovered herself'

'She did not roll as if she cared about it'

Okay, that's an interesting comment.  The Waratah has been given human qualities and accused of not 'being considerate to her passengers'.   

Worthington Church.  Passenger ( 3 times to Australia, twice to the Cape) -

'I thought she was very top heavy'

'She rolled a great deal and shivered (more animation?).  She seemed to have great difficulty in getting back to her other side. There was generally a list on the boat'

'I changed cabins because the boat rolled so much'

Mmmm.  I would be very curious to hear how changing cabins would alter the 'discomfort' of rolling?

'Had conversations with the captain, who said he was not altogether satisfied with the ship'

I find it very hard to believe that Captain Ilbery would share such reservations with an arbitrary passenger on his vessel.

'She took a big roll and seemed to have difficulty in recovering herself'

'Should not call her a comfortable sea-going boat'

...as opposed to a non-sea-going boat?

Leslie Augustus Burton Wade.  Passenger (had travelled on other ships) -

'On several occasions on the run from Cape Town to Sydney, the vessel lurched or heaved over for no apparent reason. She would for hours some times for a full day, be proceeding in the usual way, lifting and falling to the water as would be expected, when, for no apparent reason, she would roll or lurch well over, slowly, and then slowly recover herself again.' 

'I do not know what caused these peculiarities of behaviour, but the master of the vessel (Captain Ilbery) told me it was probably because of the way the vessel was stowed, and that no two vessels were stowed alike, and it was necessary to gain experience with every new vessel in order to ascertain the best method of stowing her. This conversation took place on the voyage.' 

Very important acknowledgment of teething problems during the maiden voyage.

'Sometimes the ship would roll in this way in fine weather and when the sea was moderately calm. From Cape Town to Adelaide the fiddles remained practically continuously on the dining saloon tables.' 

'On one occasion, between Cape Town and Adelaide, the master (Captain Ilbery) and I were conversing after lunch in the dining saloon, when the vessel lurched in the way I have described, and heeled well over. The piano in the dining saloon commenced to move on its castors, and, so far as I remember, went about half-way across the dining saloon before the ship recovered herself sufficiently to prevent its proceeding further. I recollect the captain saying to me, "There goes my piano," and rushing off to stop it.' 

'Previous to the time this roll or lurch took place, the ship had not been rolling in that way, and there seemed no reason in the condition of the sea for its occurrence at that time.' 

'With the exception of these intermittent peculiarities in the behaviour of the vessel at sea, I observed nothing to occasion particular interest or attention as regards the ship, and I at no time heard any of the officers speak disparagingly as to the stability of the ship'

Mr Wade made a final and important statement 'nothing to occasion particular interest or attention', reinforced by his comment that the officers did not speak 'disparagingly as to the stability of the ship'. Peculiarities did not equal instability in this man's view.  


to be continued......


Waratah: prominent superstructure


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