"Mr. A. L. B. Wade, a passenger on the
Waratah on her maiden voyage from Cape
Town to Sydney, said there was nothing
suspicious about her."
"On occasions she suddenly rolled and lurched without
apparent reason, and then slowly recovered."
"Captain Ilbery told him that this was probably
due to the way in which she was
stowed, and that it was necessary to have
experience of a new vessel in order to
ascertain the best way of stowing her."
"Some time afterwards, when Captain
Ilbery dined with him at his own house, he
"You should be on her now, we
know how to stow her, and she is as steady
"as a rock."
The Waratah may very well have been somewhat unstable on her first voyage due to the explanation given by Captain Ilbery and he acknowledged a 'learning curve' to establish the best method for stowage. If there was going to be a problem relating to stability it should, according to these accounts, have occurred on the Waratah's maiden voyage. However, although rough seas were encountered on the maiden voyage, the seas may not have been as unforgiving as those off the Wild Coast 27 July.
Captain Ilbery however, was very confident in the stability of the Waratah on her second voyage and we must remember that the Waratah was designed for ocean conditions, whatever they might be. It seems unlikely that the Blue Anchor Line would invest, at great cost, in a steamship of questionable reliability. It seems unlikely that a flagship such as the Waratah was not suitable for gale conditions (which we know to be frequent in the winter months) off the South African coast - a route she was destined to follow on a routine basis.
No, I believe that we should give Captain Ilbery the respect he earned as an experienced master and accept his word that the Waratah was a stable vessel for her final voyage. Don't forget that Waratah was under insured which confirms that the owners were not expecting her to turn turtle in a major storm.