Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Waratah - Captain Hanson of the Wilcannia speaks.


"Greater interest than usual was aroused
by the arrival here yesterday morning of
the Wilcannia, because she belongs to the
same line as the missing Waratah, displaying
a blue anchor on a white band
around the funnel the distinguishing
mark of the fleet."

"The Wilcannia is a much older,
and smaller vessel than
the Waratah. Naturally the fact
that the Waratah was missing formed an
absorbing topic of conversation among the
officers and crew of the Wilcannia when
the news reached them upon their arrival
at Adelaide from London, via Cape Town
and Durban."

"Notwithstanding the long
period that has elapsed since the Waratah
was due at Cape Town, most of the officers
and engineers of the Wilcannia are of
opinion that she is merely broken down,
and will turn up safe in the end."

"They are, however, so to speak, no wiser than
the man in the street conjecturing
as to the cause of the vessel's non arrival."

"They will not entertain the suggestion
that the Waratah may have capsized, and,
in the absence of wreckage, is of no use to believe
that she has been wrecked."

"You will, I think, find that the Waratah will
come to light," hopefully
remarked Captain Hanson, of the Wilcannia,
in discussing the matter yesterday....

"I firmly believe," he added, "that nothing
more serious than a breakdown of her
machinery has occurred, and that whilst
the engineering staff is endeavouring to
effect repairs the big liner is being carried
by the strong current towards the south
east, away from the African coast."

"She might, therefore, get a considerable
distance towards mid-ocean before such
repairs could be made and would then
probably have to retrace her steps very
slowly towards the nearest port in case
a second breakdown should occur"

"In reply to a question as to how far the
Waratah might stand off the land on her
trip from Durban to Cape Town Captain
Hanson said that if the weather was
exceptionally rough, which appeared to have
been the case, Captain Ilbery might follow
a course 30 miles out to sea for safety
(this contradicts the Guelph account - steamer only a few miles offshore).
He could not bring himself to think that
anything worse than an accident to her
machinery could have happened to such a
modern and well found leviathan liner as
the Waratah."

"It is a singular coincidence that both Mr
Hodder and Mr Hunter, chief and second
engineers of the Waratah should have previously
been associated in similar positions
on the Wilcannia.  After leaving the
Wilcannia, Mr  Hodder accepted an appointment
on shore, but subsequently gave it
up to take charge of the Waratah s engines,
with Mr Hunter as his chief associate."

All lost in a decision to take a job on the Waratah rather than onshore. Captain Hanson's conviction that the Waratah could not have foundered in the storm suggests that Blue Anchor Line masters were encouraged to give opinions 'on the brighter side' encouraging hope and reinforcing the Blue Anchor Line flagship's seaworthiness.

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