Monday, 12 May 2014


Poverty Bay Herald  17 August 1909  Page 5

'Vessels going from Durban to Cape Town steer right out to sea, and take advantage of the current which sweeps round the coast at a distance of from 3 to 40 miles distant, with a speed of 2 knots.'

'The weather at this time of year, remarked the officer, is likely to be bad, fogs and storms being met with, the latter occurring with remarkable frequency.'

'There is not much possibility of ice having been encountered, as, according to the late Admiralty chart, the last ice seen on the trade was in April, 1853.'

'The coast has a bad name for submerged wrecks, which are swept along by the current.'

"She may have struck something like that", added the officer,

"or have had a mishap in connection with the machinery, or run into a fog bank."

"If she left Durban on July 26, the Waratah should have been at Cape Town by July 28 or 29"

When the crew of the Clan MacIntyre first sighted the Waratah off Cape Hermes (4 - 6 am), the Waratah was 'proceeding close to shore'.

Given the above report, vessels tended to chart courses out to sea when heading southwest. It remains one of the unanswered questions why the Waratah was close to shore at that point in time, and at that location.

Instead of 'running into a fog bank' as the officer suggested, the Waratah ran into a smoke haze resulting from fires onshore leading to disorientation of position relative to reefs. 


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