Sunday, 16 August 2015

Waratah - Dynamite strike.

The Register (Adelaide) Thursday 20 October, 1921

Many theories have been expounded regarding the manner in which the steamer Waratah met her fate. A suggestion, or rather, conviction as reported in an extract from The Harbinger of Light, published in 'The Register' a few days ago of the supernatural captain, who appeared through a Sydney medium to a subscriber of that journal was as follows :-
During a heavy storm the stern of the vessel struck some wreckage, the rudder andboth propellers were damaged, and theafter compartment stove in by what appeared to be an explosion. 
The question of an explosion introduces the possibility of the vessel having struck jettisoned dynamite, and in that connection it is interesting to peruse correspondence on thesubject of floating dynamite, which passedbetween South Australian Governmentofficials in 1900. 
When the Bremen caught fire on her voyage to Australia in that year the outbreak was fortunately observed in time, and 4,000 cases of dynamite and 20 cases of detonators were thrown overboard. The President of the Marine Board (Mr. A. Searcy) wrote to the Government Analyst (Mr. W, A. Hargreaves) asking how long cases of dynamite would be likely to float, or be partly submerged. 
The reply was that dynamitecases were in practice lined with waterproof sheeting, fastened with rubbercement. If that lining remained intactand impervious to water the cases of dynamite would remain afloat or partly submerged indefinitely. Even if the fasteninghad been imperfectly done, the hole orholes might be at the bottom, and thelining would act as a balloon and keep thecases afloat. 
Extra thick timber in the cases would tend to keep the stuff afloat or partly submerged. Usually, however, the lining was not really watertight, and in a time varying from a few minutes to a few hours the cases became filled with water and then sank, carried down by the weight of the dynamite.

It is remotely possible that the Waratah struck dynamite off Cape Hermes. However, no explosions were heard by the crew of the Harlow. 

Using dynamite for farming is about as far afield as one can get from the probability of the Waratah striking a box of the stuff.

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