Wednesday, 19 March 2014



'and Captain Weir, of the Clan McIntyre, stated
that he sighted the Waratah on July 27, at
6 a.m., in lat. 31.36 S., long. 29.58 E., which
is (approximately) the position of Cape Hermes.'

'The Waratah crossed from the starboard to port bow,
and went out of sight about 9.30 a.m.'

'The Waratah when sighted
was proceeding fairly close to the shore at
about 12.1 knots, the Clan McIntyre making
about 10'.

 'The Waratah was seen to be
steering a little more southerly than the
other vessel, or taking a course further out
from shore.'

In order for the Clan MacIntyre to have covered the distance between Cape Hermes and the Bashee River, 59 nautical miles away (roughly where the Waratah pulled ahead) in 3 1/2 hours, she would have to have been making 14.8 knots, which implies she needed the Agulhas Current flowing at its maximum of 5 knots, to correlate with the quoted 10 knots, suggesting that Waratah had slowed down off Cape Hermes.

The Waratah 'proceeding fairly close to the shore' is mysterious. In so doing she lost the favourable advantage of the Agulhas Current outside the southerly sea lane. I can only think (if this account is to be believed) that Captain Ilbery had considered dropping anchor at the St John's River (Umzimvubu) mouth in order to assess the status aboard the Waratah and continue with leak repairs or increase attempts to extinguish a progressive coal bunker fire. But he probably reconsidered his options due to the turbulent seas and sandbar off the Umzimvubu River. Instead he charted a course heading further out to sea pulling ahead of the Clan MacIntyre, crossing her from starboard (shore) to port (out to sea) during the course of the 3 1/2 hours. Whatever took place aboard the Waratah, Captain Ilbery had made his decision.


to be continued....

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