Saturday, 5 September 2015

Waratah - without the smallest trace.

The Western Australian, Monday 21 March, 1910
His steamer was leaving Fremantle nextday and I had accepted the cordial invitation of Captain X. to spend the eveningwith him. For over an hour we had beensitting on the spacious lower bridge enjoying the refreshing breeze which blew steadilyyet not too strongly from the south. Ourconversation so far had mainly related to the political position in England, but acasual reference to the old "Samuel Plimsoll" lying across the river led to an entirechange of theme:
"By the way," I inquired, turning to the"old man," "what theory have you formedregarding the missing Waratah?" ."Well, now you have got me tied up ina bit of a knot. All I can say is simplythis: It is possible,of course, that shemay still be afloat and adrift, but for myown part I doubt it. As to the absence ofwreckage on which so many seem to rely as a proof that she is still above water, I placelittle value on it, and I think that view will be endorsed by everyone who has any real acquaintance with the history and tragediesof the sea."
"That is precisely my opinion," I replied.
"Why, during my forty years' experienceat sea,' continued the skipper, "there havebeen scores of cases of vessels of one kindor another setting out on a voyage andmysteriously, vanishing. It's usually onlywhen a passenger ship fails to reach herdestination that public interest is aroused;where 'wind-jammers' or cargo-steamers areconcerned people hear little and care less.Curiously enough I started to serve my time in 1870, the very year in which theInman liner City of Boston, left New Yorkfor Liverpool with 220 passengers and a bigcrew aboard; and disappeared without leaving the smallest clue to indicate her fate."
City of Boston

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