Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Waratah - 'The Waratah Gale'.

The Argus (Melbourne) Thursday 17 February 1910
THE "WARATAH GALE."
STEAMER DEVONSHIRE'S
EXPERIENCE.
It will be remembered that the steamer Devonshire was exposed to the terrific gale in which the Waratah is supposed to have been lost, and yesterday morning the Devonshire arrived here with a cargo comprising 4,400 tons of coal from the Tyne for the Victorian Railway Commissioners. 
Regarding the missing Blue Anchor liner, Captain Coull, of the Devonshire, expresses his belief that she met her doom in the storm referred to. He will, he says, retain lasting recollections of the weather prevailing along the South African coast at the time, and in which the Devonshire underwent a trying, if not critical, ordeal. 
She had been on a visit to Simon's Bay, the South African naval station, to land a cargo of stores, and had again put to sea in ballast when the storm struck her with intense fury. During a whole day and night it blew with hurricane strength, and the Devonshire was flung about in an alarming manner by mountainous seas. For greater safely the vessel was put before the storm, running away a considerable distance out of her course rather than attempt to face the disturbance.
Captain Coull states that the storm was oneof the most severe that he can rememberin a long seafaring life. On his presentvoyage from the Tyne via Durban splendidweather was experienced. No wreckage wasseen, neither were any vessels spoken during the long trip of 12,000 miles.

This account reminds us of the ferocity of the storm, 28 July. One can view this as a very possible cause for the loss of the Waratah or substantial reason for turning around and attempting to return to Durban.
We know from the Inquiry reports and conclusion that in the absence of debris and other physical evidence, the Court could only come to the conclusion that the severity of the storm overwhelmed the Waratah - irrespective of her seaworthiness.
Of course, one continues to wonder the extent to which evidence and witness statements were contrived to suit the outcome of the Waratah's loss in the 'storm of exceptional violence'.



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