"Charles Augustus Johnson (wharf manager
at the Outer Harbour) said he knew
Captain Ilbery had a strong objection to his
ship touching the bottom alongside the
wharf at Port Adelaide, for he heard him
say to the agent just before sailing that he
did not think it right or fair for a vessel
of her size and weight to be on the bot-
tom, as she was in Port Adelaide. "
"He estimated the total dead weight of
cargo on board at 9,000 tons, and that her
draft was 28 ft. 3 in. forward and 29 ft.
5 in. aft."
Mr Johnson gave two crucial pieces of information in his comment. He acknowledged (albeit via hearsay) that Captain Ilbery was unhappy about the waratah taking the ground in port. Although the harbour bottom consisted mainly of mud, the sheer size and weight of the Waratah presented a very real problem. The steel hull plates were constructed from brittle steel, prone to cracking. In addition to this, the rivets were high in slag particles making them prone to snapping. To establish whether any significant damage had been sustained required dry-docking which was out of the question before the Waratah departed for South African on her final voyage. Latent or patent damage could easily have contributed to the escalating crisis off the Wild Coast. I don't believe it was a single factor, but there is no doubt in my mind that it contributed to the Waratah foundering as quickly as she did.