Saturday, 17 October 2015

Waratah - Captain Preston.

The Advertiser (Adelaide) Saturday 21 August, 1909

LONDON,- -August-20.
Since no wreckage comes ashore, hope forthe safety of the Waratah is reviving. Thesteamers Paparoa, Goslar, Ayrshire,Aranta, Tasmania, and Geelong, boundfrom South African ports to various portsin Australia on various courses have beenordered to look out for the missing liner.The steamer Jeanne d'Arc, for KerguelenIsland, 50 deg. south, in the Indian Ocean,and the Whaler V.. will also keep a look-out, likewise the Douro and the SuttonHall, bound up coast for Mauritius.
The reinsurance rate for the Waratah isslightly easier, business being done yester-day at 80 guineas. There have been inthe past few days quite a number of peopleoutside the marine insurance marketanxious to back the belief that the Waratahoutlived the storm.
Sir Matthew Nathan, the retiring Go-vernor of Natal, and Mr. Y. R, Moor, thePremier, are negotiating with the ImperialGovernment regarding the establishment ofwireless telegraphy on the Natal coast, withthe object of communicating with vesselsat sea.
The Cape Government has appointed acommission to enquire into the lighting ofthe coast, the protection of shipping, andthe measures that were taken in connectionwith the loss of the Shaw-Saville linerMaori a few miles south of Cape Town. Itwill be remembered that the wreck wasattributed by the court of marine enquiryto an abnormal inset, and the captainand his officers were exonerated. Thecommission includes Commander Wills, ofthe warship Hermes, which is at presentsearching for the Waratah. His servicesas an experienced naval officer to assistthe Commissioners were granted by theAdmiralty.
Captain Preston, the commander of theMongolia, which left the Outer Harborearly on Friday, is firmly convinced thatthe Waratah is still afloat. He thinks someserious accident happened to the propelleror machinery, and that the vessel hasdrifted a long way south, but he is ofopinion that "she will be seen steamingslowly from the south to the Cape withinthe next fortnight". 
During the late war Captain Preston commanded the troopship Plassy for two years, and he made several trips to and from the Cape, with troops, so that he knows the weather conditions that prevail there. On one occasion Captain Preston made seven attempts before he succeeded in reaching a safe anchorage at Durban, where owing to the fearful weather that ruled a number of vesselswere wrecked at the time. The whole ofthe soldiers and horses on his ship werelanded safely, and when the troopship returned to England the King sent for Captain Preston, who went to BuckinghamPalace, and was personally congratulatedby his Majesty on the skill he had shownin navigating his ship through the Durban gale.
The Waratah and her 211 souls were lost. It appears from this report that a wireless on board the Waratah would have been of no help. It took tragedies such as this to galvanize governments into implementing wireless receivers along the coast and improving lighthouse installations.

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