Sunday, 22 November 2015


Outbound, second voyage, continued.

J. Chas. Neill 

Port Adelaide manager for Geo. Mills & Co., agents to owners. 

I have known Captain Ilbery intimately for twenty years, and he always spoke most highly and proudly of her (the "Waratah "). He never suggested any defect or anything remarkable as to her behaviour at sea. 

I, having had intimate association with the ship and her captain and officers, know absolutely nothing to the detriment of the ship. 

Loyal comment from agents to the owners. We'll have to leave it at that.

John H. Maxwell 


At sea about 16 years. Worked passage. 

I noticed on one occasion, when I was lying in my bunk at night, that the ship rolled heavily to port and hung there. and I lay wondering when she was going to right herself. I naturally expected to feel her roll back to starboard, but she seemed not to come back, but to go still further to port. If she did come back it was in a very slow manner and could scarcely be felt. The wind was abeam on the starboard side. It was a fairly strong wind, but not what I would call a heavy one. On other occasions, when there was little or no wind but with a swell on, she would act in the same kind of way. I thought at the time she acted in a rather peculiar way. I mentioned it to several of the sailors and firemen on board, and some said they were sorry they came out in the ship and would like to be out of her. They did not like the way the ship was behaving. 1 think quite a dozen were of that opinion, perhaps more. Sometimes, when going head to wind, she would take more water over her than one would expect under the circumstances; that is, in quite ordinary weather. 

There is a consistency in the accounts, referring to a tender vessel. 

Frank Edward Thomas. 

Shipping clerk to agents 

Passenger, Adelaide to Sydney. 

Had one blow during my trip to Melbourne and Sydney, but it was mostly fair weather. It took us four hours to get alongside the Port Melbourne Railway Pier on account of a perfect gale blowing broadside on, but it seemed to have no effect upon her and she certainly showed no sign of tenderness. 

I saw nothing while I was on board to correspond with the reported statement of Mr. Sawyer at Durban. The only thing I noticed was that on leaving Melbourne for Sydney she had a slight list to starboard, and on the next day on looking over the side I noticed she was discharging rusty-looking water. The chief engineer came along, and I asked him the cause. and he said they were pumping out a tank to rectify the list. The list, however, continued. 

The morning after I noticed this we arrived in Sydney and the list was still on. it was only slight, and probably a casual observer would not have noticed it. . . . 

After the "Waratah's" first voyage some remarks came to my ears (I do not know who made them), to the effect that the ship was a crank one. 

During my trip, in sitting one day with the chief engineer, the chief officer, and purser, I took advantage of my being connected with the agents, and, knowing the officers so intimately, asked them whether there was truth in it. They all agreed there was not. . . . The chief officer said, "You often hear things like this said, and a ship in certain trim or badly loaded might be expected to be crank." But so far as the "Waratah" was concerned they were perfectly satisfied. On account of my long and intimate connection with the line and its officers, I think that if there had been any defect in the ship or anything out of the way in regard to her behaviour at sea, I should have heard something about it. I feel certain that I should, but I never did.

Very interesting comments, importantly based on the voyage between Adelaide and Sydney, by which time a considerable portion of cargo had been discharged, and undoubtedly most coal burned out. Ballast water (+ lead concentrates) no doubt compensated for the altered condition, confirmed by attempts to establish a perfectly upright vessel by pumping water out of one of the tanks. Rusty water is puzzling in a relatively new vessel. Mr. Thomas refers to the list, ''probably a casual observer would not have noticed it'. The Waratah, as reported, was substantially stiffer when mooring at Melbourne, consistent with her improved GM. Matters were improving, with a logical explanation for such.  

Ernest Vivian Lewis. 

A.B. on "Waratah" 

I do not remember any very bad weather while I was on board of her. I have had experience in different kinds of ships, sailing and steam. I never saw anything to lead me to suppose that the ship was not all that she ought to be. During the voyage from London to Adelaide we remarked in the forecastle that she was a fine sea-going ship. I never heard anything on board the "Waratah" to suggest that the ship was in any way faulty. I went all over her myself; if she was here to-day I would not hesitate to ship in her again. 

Here was a sailor who accepted the relatively light condition of the Waratah, nothing to be alarmed about, with no impact on safety.

G. W. Ambrose 

Quartermaster, s.s. "Waratah." 

Wrote from Cape Town to his mother, under date 18th May, 1909: 

"We have had a fine passage out as far as this; we haven't had a drop of water on deck yet. She is a splendid sea-boat." 

This is a refreshing note to end the second outbound voyage on. Of course there may be those who would argue that the Quartermaster did not wish to alarm his mother with negative comments.

The consensus for this second, outbound voyage, was that the Waratah was still tender to some degree. Captain Ilbery was yet to master his vessel. To be continued....

USS New Jersey. Surely this was the ultimate in top heaviness, but did not fall over. Impressions are not the full story.

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