Sunday, 14 June 2015


The Advertiser (Adelaide) Tuesday 21 September, 1909

Optimistic views as to the possibility ofthe Waratah being yet safely towed to portare held by Mr. R. H. Shepherd, a pilotfrom Durban, who is now on a visit toAdelaide. Interviewed by a representativeof "The Advertiser," he said:
"I know the Durban coast and the cur-rents well, and have had a long acquaint-ance with Captain Ilbery, of the Waratah.It has been taken for granted by somepeople that the Waratah has capsized.
Many remarks have been passed to theeffect that the vessel was unstable andunseaworthy. I do not know how hercargo was stowed on her last voyage, butI heard there was a lot of silver concentrates in the hold. 
This confirms the fact that lead concentrates held a significant portion of silver.
However, she went out of Durban on her last trip drawing 28 ft. 9 in., and, speaking as a practical seaman, I say that no question of her instability entered anyone's head there. I boarded the vessel five minutes before she sailed out of the harbor to say good-bye to the captain. 
"Theories have been propounded that theWaratah might have struck the Aliwalshoal, which lies 25 miles south of Durban,and about three miles from the shore. Thevessel's course would not take her withinfive miles of the shoal. The place is welllighted, and the reflection of the light canbe seen before the pilot leaves the bridge.
When Waratah was first sighted by crew of the Clan MacIntyre, she was a mile offshore. This expert opinion stresses that Waratah should have been at least 8 miles offshore. 
If he did the latter, naturally his instincts, developed by long experience on sailing vessels, would be to put as much blue water between him and the coast as possible. Thus, when he was due at Port Elizabeth it was possible for him to be 60 miles from the coast (but then he would not have been seen by the Guelph following the inside steamer track)


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