Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Waratah - Mr. Merry damns the Waratah (repeat).

The Mercury (Hobart) Tuesday 30 November, 1909

Mr. W. G. Merry, of Cowell, on theWest Coast, worked his passage out inthe steamer Waratah as a steward onthe last voyage of that vessel from Lon-don to Port Adelaide (says the S.A."Advertiser.") Mr. Merry is a masonby trade. Desiring to better himselfand his family in England, he signedon as steward in the third saloon of theWaratah. He was greatly interestedin the narrative of Mr. Claude G. Saw-yer, a passenger, who joined, the Wara-tah at Sydney, but left her at Durban,and whose experiences on the vesselhave already been published. His interest prompted him to speak of his own experiences on the ship during her last voyage to the Commonwealth, and he gave the following interesting account of the trip when interviewed: -
The vessel, remarked Mr. Merry, leftthe Royal Albert Dock, London, andon the voyage to Port Adelaide failedto encounter any rough weather duringthe whole of her trip. Soon after leaving the dock Mr. Merry noticed thatthe steamer had a decided list to port,and when righting herself did so sluggishly. At no time was she horizontalfor any length of time. Owing to thedecided list the chief fireman was called before the purser and asked whichbunker he was unloading coal from.The fireman was told to unload from theport side, so as to right the vessel,there being a probability that the vessel would turn turtle if the list increased. The unloading on the port side caused the vessel to right herself considerably, hut there was still a list tostarboard. 
A bath in one of the compartments under Mr. Merry's supervision, which he visited about 50 times a day to swab up overflow water, stillshowed enough list to overflow - whenhalf full. This list was present all thetime, notwithstanding that the weatherwas exceptionally fine, and the passengers wondered what would happen ifthe steamer encountered rough weather.
During this trip out the steamer carried about 350 passengers, including many emigrants for New South Wales, who held assisted passages from the New South Wales Government.
The Waratah, remarked Mr. Merry,was the highest vessel out of the waterin the Royal Albert Dock when sheleft. Her action in the water struckhim as being most peculiar, as sheseemed to wallow in the waves "like anold duck." He did not, however, attach much importance to this, although he heard some of the seamen say that the steamer would not stand severe weather.
When asked concerning the distribution of weight on the decks of thesteamer, Mr. Merry stated that thebalance of the ship when loaded seemedto be badly adjusted, as there was practically no weight in between decks, and a lag weight above and below : consequently if she listed there would be a tendency to dip sideways, and it would be difficult for her to right her-self if the bulwarks got below the waterlevel. There were occasions when thebulwarks were only about 2ft. from thewater's edge, and it was extremely difficult to stand on deck. Very often crockery would not remain on the tables in the calmest weather owing to the list.
The steamer was well provided withboats and'life-saving apparatus. Therewere about 20 lifeboats on her, andabout 18 cigar-shaped rafts. Theselatter were so attached to the shipthat they could be easily cut adriftwhen required, and were about the sizeof a large boat.
Mr. Merry referred to a rumour,fairly well substantiated, that thesteamer nearly turned turtle in SydneyHarbour after being loaded and takenout into deep water. The vessel onthat occasion was reported to have listed so much that she had to put backto port, where her cargo was adjusted.A suggestion was made then that hertop deck should be taken off when shereached London, but when the captainreported a splendid voyage out nothing was done."
Mr. Merry spoke highly of the officersand crew of the steamer. CaptainIlbery was especially considerate to hispassengers. He would even turn a fewpoints to save the inconvenience of en-countering a heavy sea. and once thevessel was kept south for a few daysout of her course to avoid a storm.
Mr. Merry has in his possession aphotograph of the Waratah, taken atGravesend. He also prizes an interest-ing document in the shape of his dis-charge, signed by Captain Ilbery.
to be continued......

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