Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Waratah - strike the Aliwal Shoal?

"Theories have been propounded that the
Waratah might have struck the Aliwal
shoal, which lies 25 miles south of Durban,
and about three miles from the shore."

If this had been the case it is conceivable that the Waratah sustained further hull damage, but the 'knock' would have to have been very insignificant for Captain Ilbery to have continued on to Cape Town.

"The vessel's course would not take her within
five miles of the shoal. The place is well
lighted, and the reflection of the light can
be seen before the pilot leaves the bridge."

"The search so far, I consider, has been conducted on wrong lines."

"The boat left Durban about 8 p.m. on July 26.
On the following night she was spoken near East
London by the liner Guelph."

"This was 10.30 p.m., or 26 hours after leaving Durban.
This means that she was about eight
hours late, and to those acquainted with
the speed of the ship, this betokens a
breakdown possibly shortly after she left

Even though the Waratah was not sighted by any other vessels in the busy sea lane between 09h30 and 22h30 (unlikely), let's expand our thoughts to this possibility.

"The time she took to travel the
distance was almost exactly what would
be required with only one engine working."

This would certainly explain the delay behind schedule.

"Thus it appears to me one engine had been
disabled for some considerable time."

Against this assumption would be the witness fact that the Waratah pulled ahead of the Clan MacIntyre, clarifying that there was nothing wrong with the Waratah's engines (at least until 09h30 27 July).

"Assuming this to be so, you must look at
the position from the point of view that
would be adopted by a prudent seaman like
Captain Ilbery."

"What would he do under the circumstances?"

"He was off East London, the barometer was low, presaging
a storm of unusual violence."

"There were two alternatives - one to make his way
back to Durban for repairs, and the other
to continue his voyage."

I have always believed that Captain Ilbery came about to head back to Durban, but there is the possibility that the crew of the Guelph did in fact sight the Waratah on course for Cape Town.

to be continued...

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