Sunday, 4 May 2014

Waratah - Rose Allen; John Ebsworth


'Mrs Allen was the wife of Captain A. Allen
who holds the position of chief officer of the
cargo Steamer Karori belonging to the Union
S S Company of New Zealand and employed
in the produce trade between Devonport and
other Tasmanian ports and Sydney.'

'Mrs Allen who resided at No 95 Campbell street North
Sydney took an infant with her and was bound
on a pleasure trip to London.'

'Miss Rose Allen a little girl 6 years of age
was the daughter of Captain A. Allen of the
Karori by his first marriage and was accompanying
her step mother on a visit to England.'

Here we have a child of six, entrusted to the care of her step mother, confronted with the horrors of a terrifying death.

Mrs Allen not only had to confront her own mortality, but helplessly watched her infant and step daughter succumb to the same fate.

'Mr. John Ebsworth was a prominent solicitor
practising in Melbourne and was the
holder of a master mariner's certificate.'

'Prior to engaging in the practice of law he occupied
the positions of second and chief officer of
steamers trading between London and Australia
for seven or eight years, and on account
of his seafaring experience his services were
greatly sought for in the Marine Court of Victoria.'

'Mr. Ebsworth was a prominent Mason and was the son
of Mr. John Ebsworth, solicitor of London.'

Mr Ebsworth was primarily on a business trip to England, but intended to visit his mother while there.

This was going to be his trip back to England.

Mr Ebsworth, passionate about maritime law, had published a handbook, 'Law Relating to Master and Seaman and Claims for Salvage'.

He took an active interest in the performance of the Waratah at sea.  

In letters to his wife Mr Ebsworth described the Waratah as a sound and comfortable vessel.

However, he did share some reservations with fellow passengers regarding the Waratah's tendency to list prominently in certain circumstances, holding in the list before righting herself.

Mr Ebsworth also remarked on the Waratah's bow tendency to plough through oncoming swell rather than ride over it.

Allegedly he made the rather damning comment that the Waratah might, in adverse circumstances, 'dive' into oncoming swell and fail to emerge on the 'other side'. 

With all factors taken into consideration, including the very real possibility the Waratah struck a reef off Port St Johns, this final characteristic might have taken the Waratah under quickly, not allowing time for the officers to mobilise passengers and fellow crew.

to be continued...

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