Friday, 22 May 2015

Waratah - more on Sabine search.

The Advertiser (Adelaide) Friday 1 April, 1910
Melbourne, March 31.
The Minister of Customs has received acomplete copy of the report of the steamerSabine's search for the steamer Waratah.The log shows that the total time occupiedby the Sabine on her voyage was 87 days8 hours, and the total distance coveredwas 14,730 miles. The average speed was7.14 knots. 
The chief interest attaches to the visitof the Sabine to the Crozets andSt. Paul Islands. She arrived at 1 p.m. onOctober 24, off American Bay, PossessionIsland, one of the Crozets Group, andsteamed to within half a mile of the shore.The whistle was blown continually. Therewas no sign of any people about, but therewas what appeared to be a storehouse inthe north-west corner of the bay, and somewhite posts, with cross bars, which Captain S. H. Owen stated looked like goal-posts. He assumed that the posts were used for drying skins. Having satisfied himself that no one was in the vicinity of the bay he proceeded to Ship- Cove, where he arrived at 2.35 p.m.
On a Lonely Island.
Anchors were dropped in 21 fathoms ofwater, about 400 yards from the cliffs, andabreast of the cave. At 3.30 p.m. the captain sent the whaleboat ashore in chargeof Mr. White, the second officer, who wasaccompanied by Lieutenant Beattie and acrew of five men, including two naval signalmen. A beacon, consisting of a boxsecurely nailed to a piece oi scantling, waserected. It contained an airtight tin,lashed to the upright, in which was a statement to the effect that the ship had calledthere, and was proceeding towards St.Paul's Island. 
The statement was directed, "To whomit may concern," with a request thatit might be forwarded to Messrs. DonaldCurrie, & Co., London. At 5 p.m., theboat returned to the ship, and Messrs.Wright and Beattie reported that they hadfound the remains of what had been ahouse, and the remains of a boat, and twoiron blubber pots. The remnants of thehouse were on the spot where the refugehouse was marked on the chart. Therewere no signs of any recent habitation. Thelanding was effected without difficulty. Thewind was strong from the north-north-eastand the water was smooth in the cove, butthere was a slight swell, The shoresabounded with seagulls. penguins, and sea elephants. Captain Owen intended to stayin the anchorage all night to enable the engineers to do a little overhauling of theengines, but as the weather looked verythreatening and the anchorage anything butsecure for a vessel of the Sabine's size, hethought it better to get to sea again beforebe met with any accident.
Oil on the Troubled Waters.
At 6.25 p.m. the Sabine hove up anchorand proceeded to sea. At 4.30 a,m. anorth-west gale of exceptional violencesprang up, This lasted in its full fury until11 a.m., and the sea and squalls were terrific. The ship lay most of the time in thetrough of the sea. Three oil bags werepassed over the side. One sea which brokeon board carried off the accommodationladder and broke the bolt clean away. Theoil bags, however, had a beneficial effect. 
For a week prior to the Sabine's arrival at Possession Island, and while approaching the Crozet Group thick, boisterous weather was encountered, so that great difficulty was experienced in getting observations to ascertain the vessel's exact position. Dense fogs were encountered, and it was impossible to obtain really reliable observations even when these did not prevail. The horizon was false, and no two observers could get anything like the same altitude. Captain Owen endeavored to find Apostle's and Hogg Islands on October 22, but the weather was much too thick to approach such a dangerous locality.
In the morning he managed to obtain asnapshot observation of a very blurred sunwith an equally bad horizon, and at noonsecured a latitude by observation, whichhe considered reliable to about four miles.This latitude placed him 10 miles to thenorth of Apostle's Island. Accordingly heran due east clear of the island, and shaped a course for Dark Head, on Possession Island. Thick walls of fog had caused the captain to steam cautiously on his course, but eventually he saw the small peak spiring up above the clouds and fog. Half an hour later the sun came out quite bright, and there was an almost perfect horizon. This enabled the ship's officers to obtain a fairly accurate bearing.
A Misleading Chart.
It was afterwards that the vessel wassteered for American Bay. In referring tothe chart sailing directions regarding theseislands, Captain Owen pointed out thatmany of the statements were misleading.The small plan of Ship Cove on the chartwas also rather misleading. It appearedto be somewhat out of drawing, as thecove was not nearly so circular as the chart made it appear. When the Sabine was anchored, although she did not attempt to drag, she sheered about in a most alarming manner. That led Captain Owen to the conclusion that there were very strong eddy currents. Large fields of kelp extended about 150 yards from the shore, and if a ship became entangled in that he doubted if she would be able ever to extricate herself.

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