The Waratah departed on her maiden voyage, 5 November, 1908. She carried 67 passengers, 689 emigrants and a crew of 154. Captain M.H. Clarke surveyed her off Gravesend and found that she complied with all requirements as per the Merchant Shipping Acts. The Inquiry called some passengers who had travelled on the Waratah to give testimony regarding their impressions of her performance at sea. These are a few examples of those who gave relatively favourable reports:
Harry McKay Bennett, third mate of the Waratah -
'there was nothing extraordinary in her behaviour';
'She had no abnormal list, never more than 4 or 5 degrees due to wind pressure or working bunkers';
'very easy in rolling';
'an even roll throughout';
'would call her a tender ship'
Frederick Little, general servant on Waratah -
'noticed nothing on the way out'
Albert Vandam, passenger, Cape Town to Sydney -
'list continued for 2 to 3 days and then went over to the other side, but not an alarming list. I have seen similar occurrences. No roll out of the common, but all one way'
John Francis Ryan, senior 4th engineer on Waratah -
'she neither pitched nor rolled anything out of the ordinary'
...but there again Mr Ryan had just been promoted within the Blue Anchor Line....
Morley Johnson, passenger (had been on other large ships) -
'The behaviour of the vessel was in general quite equal to that of any vessels I have been in';
'Rolling nothing unusual';
'No person ever expressed to me a doubt of the ship's stability'
Robert Glass Millar, passenger -
'heard no complaint of the vessel at sea or of her seaworthy condition';
'I do not agree she rolled and seemed to hang. the roll was easy and natural'
Robert Girling, Pilot who piloted the Waratah from Adelaide to Melbourne -
'I thought she was a beautiful ship to handle, but drawing about 26 feet aft and about 21 feet 6 inches forward, she was very tender indeed. There was a strong south-west wind at the time. I did not mention it to the captain or officers, but I did to two other pilots. I thought it was on account of her being light and a strong breeze on the broadside when going round the bend of the river at Snapper Point. She had, of course, discharged her Adelaide cargo by this time. It was only at that place that I noticed her being rather tender. As she came head to wind, she righted and kept so . . . . . I never heard anyone on board express an opinion as to the sea-going qualities of the ship'
Note that Waratah's average draught after cargo was discharged was only 23.75 ft.. Of course she was relatively tender at this stage. Compare this figure with an average of 28.9 ft. when she was fully loaded - a difference of 5 full feet!
to be continued.....