Thursday, 12 November 2015


Gerald Steele

Passenger. Had made 15 passages to America, and been to South Africa.

She appeared to me to be top heavy. She did not roll comfortably.

She would get down on either side, and hang there before she recovered herself.

She did not roll as if she cared about it.

'She did not roll as if she cared about it' must surely be the most peculiar comment in the transcript, attributing human characteristics to an inanimate object. However, it is very descriptive, and with a reduced GM must have felt as though the steamer was 'less in control' than she ought to have been.

John Francis Ryan

Senior 4th engineer on "Waratah."

Left on promotion.

She neither pitched nor rolled anything out of the ordinary.

Again, another seaman who left on promotion, not wishing to rock the boat??

Worthington Church.

Passenger. Had been three times to Australia, once to W. Indies, and twice to the Cape.

I thought she was very top heavy.

She rolled a great deal and shivered. She seemed to have great difficulty in getting back to her other side. There was generally a list on the boat.

I changed cabins because the boat rolled so much.

Had conversations with the captain, who said he was not altogether satisfied with the ship.

She took a big roll and seemed to have difficulty in recovering herself

Should not call her a comfortable sea-going boat.

Leslie Augustus Burton Wade.

Passenger, Cape Town to Sydney.

Had travelled on several other deep-water vessels.

On several occasions on the run from Cape Town to Sydney, the vessel lurched or heaved over for no apparent reason. She would for hours some times for a full day, be proceeding in the usual way, lifting and falling to the water as would be expected, when, for no apparent reason, she would roll or lurch well over, slowly, and then slowly recover herself again. I do not know what caused these peculiarities of behaviour, but the master of the vessel (Captain Ilbery) told me it was probably because of the way the vessel was stowed, and that no two vessels were stowed alike, and it was necessary to gain experience with every new vessel in order to ascertain the best method of stowing her. This conversation took place on the voyage. Sometimes the ship would roll in this way in fine weather and when the sea was moderately calm. From Cape Town to Adelaide the fiddles remained practically continuously on the dining saloon tables. On one occasion, between Cape Town and Adelaide, the master (Captain Ilbery) and I were conversing after lunch in the dining saloon, when the vessel lurched in the way I have described, and heeled well over. The piano in the dining saloon commenced to move on its castors, and, so far as I remember, went about half-way across the dining saloon before the ship recovered herself sufficiently to prevent its proceeding further. I recollect the captain saying to me, "There goes my piano," and rushing off to stop it. Previous to the time this roll or lurch took place, the ship had not been rolling in that way, and there seemed no reason in the condition of the sea for its occurrence at that time. With the exception of these intermittent peculiarities in the behaviour of the vessel at sea, I observed nothing to occasion particular interest or attention as regards the ship, and I at no time heard any of the officers speak disparagingly as to the stability of the ship. 

Captain Ilbery freely admitted during the maiden voyage there were teething problems with the stowage plan and GM in general. Further to this, Mr. Wade was concerned about the Waratah; 'for no apparent reason, would roll or lurch well over, slowly, and then recover herself'. even in calm seas. The sea, although calm, might not be uniform in terms of currents and swell patterns:

A Treatise on the Stability of Ships :-

...'If now, we imagine that, instead of the ship being moved, the water is lifted out of the horizontal, say, into the position of a wave-slope, thus immersing (with a constant displacement) more of the ship on one side than on the other, it is reasonable and just to expect that the ship will consequently be turned from the upright to an inclined position, in response to this increase of pressure on one side and diminution on the other; and also that the urgency with which she will so be moved, will be proportioned to the forces which in still water urged her to the upright position, viz, to her statical stability'....

But the point is well taken, the Waratah on her maiden voyage was both relatively tender and not ideally stowed. Corrections were to come.....

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