Thursday, 15 May 2014

Waratah - 'it was the worst weather the steamer had encountered, and she behaved splendidly'.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954)  Thursday 9 December 1909


'The Waratah, a handsome specimen of the
shipbuilder's art and less than a year old,
sailed out of Sydney Harbour on her second
and last homeward voyage on June 26, bound
for London.'

'She made calls en route at Melbourne and Adelaide,
leaving the first-named port on July 1, and the
South Australian port on July 7.'

'On the voyage across the Indian Ocean she
encountered very heavy weather conditions for
four days, and Commander Ilbery remarked
to Mr C. Saunders, a solicitor of Melbourne,
who was a passenger to Durban, that -

"it was the worst weather the steamer had encountered,
and that she had behaved splendidly "

'Captain Ilbery repeatedly assured him that the
Waratah was everything he could wish, and
Mr Saunders, speaking of his own experiences,
declared that he had no fear for the
vessel when she was reported missing.'

'Mr Morgan, another passenger from Australia made
a similar report. He said that near Cape Leeuwin the
Waratah encountered very bad weather, and for four days
was subjected to a severe strain.'

'She behaved splendidly, and came through her trying ordeal

The Board of Trade Inquiry into the loss of the Waratah came to the conclusion that she had succumbed to a storm of exceptional violence, and this was the first such storm that the Waratah had encountered, implying there was a residual element of doubt as to the Waratah's seaworthiness in extreme sea conditions.

It is clear from this newspaper report the Waratah had in fact negotiated a severe storm prior to her departure from Durban 26 July. The storm off Cape Leeuwin might however have further exacerbated any latent structural damage sustained when the Waratah took the ground at the wharf, Port Adelaide. But this remains in the realm of conjecture and in fairness to the great steamer, I don't believe she failed to meet the challenge of the gale, 28 July, 1909, which was safely navigated by far lesser vessels.

beautiful Waratah photo

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