Sunday, 25 October 2015

Waratah - mysterious winds.

The West Australian, Saturday 28 August, 1909
Bunbury, August 27.
Mr. A. S. Brown, chief officer of thesteamer Madura, which is now in porthere loading sleepers for Kurachi, hasas interesting theory regarding thewhereabouts of the missing Waratah.
The Madura left the port of Natal onJuly 23 for Bunbury, calling at DelagoaBay, on July 27, this being about thetime when the Waratah put out fromPort Natal. For the first time in hisexperience, Mr. Brown said that henoticed a peculiar irregularity about thecurrents. Sweeping southward along thewestern coast of Africa is the powerfulAgulhas current. 
Any steamer coming to Australia from that coast would takeadvantage of the Agulhas to get carriedsouth with the current which sweepsacross the Indian Ocean, and it runsnorthward as it approaches the Australian coast. Other boats, particularlysailing vessels, coming from Europe, andmaking for the southern parts of Australia, keep still further south in orderto catch the westerly set. 
Mr. Brown states that usually a steamer making forthe Western Australian coast, and getting into the east-north-easterly current has to point a little to the southward in order to counteract its northerly influence. 
On the voyage of the Madura,however, this current was found, contrary to the latest meteorological reports, to be setting due south, and aided by a north-easterly wind it compelledthe setting of the ship's head in a slightly northerly direction. 
At the time the Waratah went astray the windoff the south coast of Africa was blowingstrongly from the south-south-west, andMr. Brown's theory is that if the missing steamer were in any way disabled she would be carried into the zone ofthis extraordinary southerly set, and meeting continuously strong northerlywinds, such as those experienced by the Madura for about a fortnight, would betaken south into the westerly set, and should now be drifting in a verysoutherly latitude towards Australia.
Having this theory, and in the absenceof any signs of wreckage, he is convinced that the Waratah is still afloat, and may be found, as in the case of the Nairnshire some time ago, by one of the sailing ships running down her easting.

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