'GRAVE FEARS EXPRESSED BY SEA-
"Many may cling to the belief that the
Waratah is still afloat, but I don't,"
said another old mariner, who does not now
follow the sea for a livelihood.
"My firm conviction is that she has gone to
the bottom. The presumption is that the
steering gear carried away, that she drifted
round into the trough of the sea, careened
over, that the water flowed in through
one set of ventilators, whilst the air rushed
out of the other set. and she then went
down without giving her passengers or
crew any hope of escape."
"I've seen Father Neptune in an angry mood
many times and whilst he is in that state the most
seaworthy vessels must need take care."
"The Waratah has a double bottom. This
would help her in the event of her striking
a rock, but it would have the reverse effect
in a very high sea if the vessel became unmanageable,
for she would heel over hard as the water flowed in the air
within the space of the two bottoms (which) would
lift upward, and so help to prevent her
from righting herself."
"My opinion is the Waratah was struck by a heavy
sea and thrown over on her side. Before she
could right herself other heavy seas hit her
and she thus filled with water and went
"Of course, it is only an opinion
and I may be wrong. I hope it is. But I
think you will find that it is correct."
Crucial to unravelling the mystery of the eyewitness account of the crew of the Harlow is the rapidity with which the Waratah's lights disappeared after the two flashes of lights. The implication is clear; the Waratah foundered very quickly - explaining the official absence of flotsam and bodies.
This extract raises a further potential access point re flooding. The Waratah was fitted with very prominent ventilation funnels (see picture). In order for these ventilation funnels to take on water, the Waratah would have to have been on her side (90 degrees), which would be an irreversibly critical point.
I am not entirely clear what the mariner implied when he referred to water entering into the space between the double hull which would then 'lift upward'. If a significant volume of water could flood the space between the double hull, my reasoning is the hull on the flooded side would not 'lift upward' but the reverse, causing the steamer to heel over further beyond the critical point.