Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Waratah - Mr. Rider, Clan MacIntyre.

The Mercury, Monday 21 March, 1910
Mr. Rider, who was second officer ofthe steamer Clan Macintyre, whichspoke the missing steamer Waratahafter she left Durban for Capetown,was a passenger by the RMS Ionic,which left Hobart on Saturday, in continuation of his voyage from Londonto Wellington. In conversation with arepresentative of "The Mercury" Mr.Rider said the Clan Macintyre, whichwas a vessel of 4,807 tons, left Durbanearlier in the day than the Waratah,and was bound for London. 
At 5 o'clock the next morning the Waratahpassed the Clan Macintyre. (interesting how the times vary with different accounts) The chief and fourth officers were on the bridge ofthe latter vessel at the time Signalswere exchanged between the steamerswith the aid of the Morse lamp. TheWaratah was then all right. Theweather was fine and the sea smooth.
Mr. Rider is a further witness who claimed that the Waratah was 'all right'. It does seem plausible that able seaman Lamont's account from the Clan Mac of a Waratah listing and pitching like a yacht, is to be taken with a pinch of salt. A visibly 'all right' Waratah may not have manifested at that time with outward signs of a fire on board. In all probability the crew had the problem 'in hand'. It was only much later in the day that the crew of the Harlow witnessed a steamer 'smoking fiercely'. 
The same night it came on to blow fromthe westward, and tremendous seagot up. The Clan Macintyre, whichhad been steaming at the rate of 11 to11 1/2 knots an hour was unable to makeany headway against the gale. In fact,she was driven back 33 miles in the24 hours. The gale then moderated,and the Clan Macintyre was able tomake headway again. Nothing wasseen of the Waratah during the gale.Mr. Rider said the sea was wall-like inits formation, and tremendously high.If anything went wrong in the engineroom of the Waratah she would nothave had "a look in ".
The simple fact as reported is this; 'nothing was seen of the Waratah during the gale.' If something had 'gone wrong' in the engine room of the Waratah it is very likely the Clan Mac would have overhauled her - unless the Waratah had moved beyond of the general outer track, further out to sea. It seems very unlikely that the Waratah signaled the Guelph which was following the inner track up the coast, closer to shore. There is a very real possibility that the Waratah foundered further out to sea, overwhelmed by the conditions at sea, but it seems more probable that Captain Ilbery elected to come about and retrace his course back to Durban so that the fire on board could be comprehensively dealt with. After all, there was no other potentially large steamers which could have been astern of the Harlow by 8 pm 27 July, off Cape Hermes.


Johan Björklund said...

Was there any ship in the vincinity that night (or week) that had a name with the letters TAH in it? If so, which?

andrew van rensburg said...

Not that I am aware of, Johan. If conditions were so bad that only the three letter could be made out, we have to assume that there is a strong possibility that the 'TAH' may be wrong in itself - an 'educated' guess on the part of the signaler. No attempts were made to clarify the 'TAH' which from a statistical point of view renders the account without validation. Andrew