Sunday, 14 June 2015


The Argus (Melbourne) Wednesday 11 August 1909
It seems almost certain that if the Waratah was sighted by the Guelph, both vesselswere proceeding along the South African coast on what is called the inside course. 
It is an almost invariable custom forsteamers proceeding from Cape Town toDurban, as the Guelph was, to follow thistrack, so as to escape the strong currentwhich runs down the coast further out tosea, near the Agulhas bank. By keepingclose inshore on the trip up to Durbansteamers miss meeting this current, andtherefore, make smarter passages than ifthey shaped a course further out, where thetide runs strongly.
Captain Spalding, who was associated with the Aberdeen liners for many years,is familiar with the coast and the courseswhich steamers follow when traversing it. In his opinion the Guelph was steering an inside course and as she sighted the Waratah the latter vessel must also have been coming along by the same track. In this case the Waratah would miss the benefit of the current which runs on the outside route.
The Guelph is a well known twin-screwmail steamer of the famed Union Castleline, whose vessels trade from Southamptonto South African ports.

This important point is raised. Why would the Waratah be on the 'inside course'?
When the Waratah parted company with the Clan MacIntyre, she was heading in a more southerly direction, further out to sea. This makes sense. With a storm approaching the longer wave lengths further out in addition to the benefit of the Agulhas Current would have been far more favourable. In fact, beyond the continental shelf, would have been ideal avoiding the risk of running into a 'freak wave'.
The 'Waratah' when sighted was not flying flags of distress, even though following in the 'inside course' and 8 hours behind schedule.
I doubt whether the sighting and limited signal exchange holds any validity.

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