Thursday, 13 February 2014

Waratah - dynamite.

"Knowing Captain Ilbery, I should
say with the last turn of the engine he
would sheer the vessel's bow off shore, and
set what sail he could."

All of which would have been a very difficult task in treacherous sea conditions.

"This would be very
little, and perhaps not equal to a
speed of half a knot."

"His object I would be to make way to the eastward of
the strong current which runs south-west-ward here
in order to avoid being carried
southward among the icebergs and other

"By the time a search was first
made for the Waratah (five days later) the
vessel had probably drifted from 200 to 300
miles east or south-east of Port Elizabeth."

No trace of the Waratah was ever found after extensive searches off the South African coast.

"When I left Durban nearly all the searching had been done southward.
No vessel had gone to any extent to the east of the
meridian of Durban."

"There is a large expanse of water, hundreds of square miles,
seldom traversed by any vessel, situated between
the route from Cape Town to Australia and the great circular route from

"That in my opinion is where a
search should be made, as my conviction
is that she is drifting towards the island of
St. Paul, although her trend may have been
towards Crozet Islands."

Ultimately, neither the Waratah nor any remains identified to be linked with the Waratah were discovered in the Indian Ocean between Africa and St Paul and the Crozets.

"It has been stated by a visitor that there
is a possibility that the Waratah may have
had the misfortune to strike some floating

"Mr. Shepherd stated that a few
weeks ago half a hundredweight of dynamite
was jettisoned from a vessel, and was
subsequently observed floating in the ocean
along the Durban coast."

''I had an experience once," he said,

"with floating dynamite, when a few pounds of it was
caught in the propeller of a vessel, and exploded, tearing a hole in the hull and doing
damage to the extent of £1,500."

"If the Waratah struck the jettisoned dynamite,
which floats for weeks before sinking, with
her propeller, it might account for her being posted as missing."

It has been mentioned in other sources that the Waratah might have struck dynamite causing a massive explosion and fatal damage.  However, if this were the case, surely debris would have been strewn far and wide? Unless the dynamite caused a gash in her side and she took on a catastrophic volumes of water, sinking quickly with everything contained within. My personal feeling is that dynamite as a cause for the Waratah's loss is a theory too far.

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