"Stable as the vessel may have been,
however, a matter which must be taken
into consideration is the possibility of
"side slips"- the slipping of a vessel
down a swell of sea, which gives her a
list at a dangerous angle."
"It must be remembered that when the Waratah
was last spoken, the "sea was coming down like a wall."
Captain Owens, an authority on the stability of
ships, quotes the case of the sailing
ship Euerbank, lost off Cape Horn, in
"Enormous rollers had set in
from the west and south, and a south
westerly gale, arose. The ship tooled
over, and, without warning, fell broad
side into a trough that looked as deep
as a chasm, and in the descent
"If the roll of a vessel
in a great beam sea should synchronise
with her descending -position on
the sloping "shoulder" of an exceptionally
formed wave the crest of
which is parallel to the line of her keel,
conditions exist -which would tend to
capsize the vessel."
This informed report illustrates that a huge swell could be enough to capsize a steamer if she was 'broadside' to the 'rollers'. It seems unlikely under normal conditions that Captain Ilbery would have allowed the Waratah to get into such a vulnerable position. If we are to assume that the Waratah did not have engine trouble, corroborated by her pulling ahead of the Clan MacIntyre and 'catching up to the Harlow', then it is unlikely she would have lost her orientation to on-coming swell. I would have to agree in the event of a temporary problem with steering could have set up the scenario as described. 'Turning turtle' does account for the absence of flotsam and debris from the Waratah.
Let's not forget the Le Joola turned turtle and stayed afloat for a significant period of time.