Monday, 23 June 2014

Waratah - sub bottom sonar profiling.

It is clear from the circumstantial evidence laid out in this blog, the Waratah foundered close to shore off Port St Johns. The Umzimvubu River deposits tons of silt into the bay and in all probability the wreck of the Waratah lies buried beneath layers of sediment.

Wreck exploration is fiercely expensive and the waters off Port St Johns are notoriously 'unstable'. The current is swift and powerful making dives very difficult except under the most ideal of circumstances.  The same applies to sending down ROV's. Visibility is poor due to swirling silt and particulate matter.

But despite the challenges and cost, the wreck of the Waratah might yet be found in this vicinity.
She remains one of maritime's most alluring mysteries and has left generations of descendants of those who perished without closure. Discovering the wreck would bring the mystery to an end but possibly comfort to the families. It is a terrible thing not knowing.

In the modern era, sufficient motivation, financial backing and use of Sub Bottom Sonar Profiling, should establish the resting place of the Waratah off Port St Johns once and for all. Bitter disappointment resulted from previous attempts to locate the wreck. It will take courage and substantial backing to explore the waters off the Wild Coast once again.


Graeme Cree said...

If it's a movie you want, maybe it's better if it isn't found. The actual story of the loss of the Waratah isn't that engaging. A ship sailed into a storm and was lost. Not much of a story. Knowing the exact position she went down would add nothing to the story unless it revealed some big revelation, like there were space aliens onboard when she went down, or we found it in some unusual place, like beached on Antarctica, or floating around in the South Pacific.

Now, the SEARCH for the Waratah, that's a different matter. We've got a story there. Claude Sawyer getting off at the last stop because of a dream warning. All the business at the inquiry about whether she was top heavy. Emlyn Brown's 20 year search. Popping the champagne at the end, only to realize they found the Nailsea Meadow instead. The whole "Titanic Envy" angle, where they wanted to have a ship to call "Australia's Titanic". Here we've got a story. A story that is served by all the mysteries and theories swirling around it. If we actually find the ship, and find that it was sunk by, say a freak wave, and all those other theories get thrown right out the window, then we might have less of a story.


You make a very good point Graeme. The mystery is the story. In some respects it would be of historical significance to find the wreck, but on the other hand, perhaps the great ship and her resting souls should be left in peace.

speedbird said...

Having read almost every word ever printed on Waratah, it is a mystery to me as to why she isn't more famous. This story has it all. Ask anyone and they'll tell you the greatest mystery of the sea is Mary Celeste. In the case of MC, we had the ship, Waratah is a completely different story altogether.

That said, some mysteries just have too much going for them. A certain je ne sais quoi if you will. Waratah is one of those mysteries. Finding the ship, while academic, won't further the story to any great degree, especially if the causal damage isn't catastrophic. It'll likely show what we already know, that she went down in a storm within a few dozen miles of where we all think she likely disappeared anyway.

If her engines failed, baring a boiler explosion (unlikely), we wouldn't see any evidence. We'd have a ghost. A ghost that would instantly become less special.