Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Waratah - contrasting opinions.

The Argus (Melbourne) Saturday 14 January 1911

Question of Seaworthiness.
Evidence on Both Sides.
LONDON, Jan. 13.
The Board of Trade inquiry concerning the loss of the Waratah was continued yesterday.
A letter was put in evidence fromAmbrose, who was quartermaster on thesteamer on her last voyage, to his parents,in which he described the steamer as asplendid sea boat.
Mr Chapman who was one of the engineers on the first voyage, gave evidencedeclaring that he had found her steadyand seaworthy.
Reference was made to a statementthat the Waratah on her first voyagestruck near Kangaroo Island. Mr Chapman, questioned on this point, rememberedhaving heard that the vessel hadbeen close to the island but he did notthink that she had touched. He left theWaratah owing to his wife's ill health.
A seaman named Sharp who was onthe vessel on her first voyage,  said thatthe lifeboats were continually leaking andbeing patched up. He left the ship atSydney because he was frightened. Hewould not have returned to her for athousand pounds. The lifeboats were notfit for use. The chief officer had predicted to him that the Waratah would besomebody's coffin. He had heard theboatswain say that the boats were unsafeto life, and that the vessel would go tothe bottom in a storm.
Pinel,  who was the carpenter's mate on thesteamer stated that the lifeboats hadbeen constructed of green wood, andopened out in the tropics. It was impossible to repair them, because there wasno material on board. The steamer rolledconsiderably and was like a cork on the water.
(By the second voyage, the lifeboats were reported to have been 'sorted out'.)
A steward named Lyons said that afterleaving the Cape on her outward voyagethe Waratah had a very heavy list, which lasted for six hours, until the tanks were filled.
(This makes sense and reflects the initial attempts to rectify the maiden voyage stability issues.)
Mr Hammond, chief engineer, and MrEvans, chief officer of the Tottenhamgave evidence combating the statementthat when floating objects supposed to bebodies were passed at sea the captain refused to pick them up. They said that when sighting of bodies was reported the boat was put about and cruised for half an hour in search, but nothing was seen.
(I doubt that.)
The officers of the steamer Harlow, which reported having seen a vessel on fire off the Natal coast, repeated the story that was made at the time.
(Very interesting to note that 'the crew' reported the same story. This implies that there were a number of eye witnesses on the Harlow who saw the 'large steamer' disappear astern.)
The inquiry was further adjourned. 

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