Monday, 23 November 2015




Claude G. Sawyer 

Director of Public Companies. 

Booked by the "Waratah" from Sydney to Cape Town with option to continue to London at a cheaper rate. 

Left the ship at Durban, forfeiting his passage money to Cape Town, a sum of eight guineas, and the right to cheaper fare to London. 

Accustomed to ocean travelling. Had been on twelve ocean steamers within nine months. 

I first noticed something peculiar at Melbourne, and that was when we left the port; she had a big list to port. I formed the opinion that the list was considerable when I walked in my cabin. It was very uncomfortable to walk towards the port. I suppose the floor of the cabin was inclined slightly to port. Then going through the disturbed water just before you get out to the Heads, she wobbled about a good deal and then took a list to starboard and remained there for a very long time. She went right over so that the water was right underneath me. I was standing on the promenade deck. 

She remained so long there that I did not like it. 

Clearly the Waratah was still tender at this early stage of the voyage. One could argue that there was still considerable cargo to ship at Adelaide, and the full picture of stability was yet to come.

Then, by degrees, she went over the other way, and remained with a list to port so that it was very uncomfortable walking in my cabin, because my cabin was on the port side. 

The weather was fine although the passengers from Sydney to Melbourne complained of the roll. I did not think much of it because I had had very bad weather in the "Warimoo," which had however not alarmed me. 

The "Waratah" did alarm me, by degrees, before I got to Durban.

The psychic passenger had the Court's full attention. 

On leaving Adelaide it was fine through the Bight, but just by Cape Leeuwin we got it somewhat rough, not very rough, and she rolled in a very disagreeable way, a very unusual way. She rolled and then remained a long time on her side, and did not recover. So I looked round to see why she was not recovering, and then in the middle, just when she was level again, she gave a decided jerk very often. Several passengers had bad falls in consequence of the jerk. Then, when she got on the other side, she remained equally long before she recovered.

 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 (assisted by wind) 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.This idea, while needing manifold developments and qualifications, is the fundamental idea which regulates, if we may so speak, a ship's behaviour in waves; and it points immediately and directly to the doctrine that, within certain limits, a very stable ship may be tended to violent rolling in waves. The limit on the side of great stability is to be found in the fact that were the stability of a ship infinite, an exact conformity to changes of mean wave-slope would be the condition of maximum motion.' 

The jerk experienced, alludes to the violent tendency of a reasonably stable Waratah, attempting to return to the upright position. Captain Ilbery, shared an important insight into this rolling characteristic, which we shall come to.

I made some enquiries regarding the roll. I used to bath very early, and one morning, when I was lying in the bath at full length, all at once the ship rolled very much, and was so slow that I had time to measure the angle that the water took with the bath, and apparently to me it was about 45 degrees, or, as near as I could calculate, half a right angle. But the water may have had a swing or anything, I do not know, but it alarmed me anyway. I went and asked one of the officers to what angle the ship had rolled, but I did not get any satisfactory answer. I asked if there was an instrument on the bridge, because I did not know that they did not have one there. I knew they had one in the engine-room, but the reply I got was, "Oh, the builders would have seen to the roll, it was all right."

Claude Sawyer let his expert testimony down, by referring to the list of the Waratah approximating 45 degrees. The Oceanus listed to 40 degrees just before she slipped into the depths, off the Wild Coast, 1991. By this point passengers were unable to stand on the sharply inclined decks. Sawyer blew his credibility. He was an exaggerator. 

After that I was talking about the rolling to Mr. Ebsworth, another passenger. He had been a sailor, so he told me, for about seven or nine years. One day I was talking to him about this rolling, so he said, "Oh, that is not all; we will go and look at the way she is pitching." So we walked to the forward end of the promenade deck, and watched the ship, and there were big rollers coming straight towards the ship, so she took the first one; when she went into the trough of the wave, she remained there, and she seemed to keep her nose into the next wave, and simply plough through it. We watched her for a long time, and then a very big wave came, and Mr. Ebsworth caught hold of the railing and said that in the whole of his experience he had never seen any ship do that before. That set me thinking, and so I made enquiries about the ship, and then I found out for the first time it was her second trip. Then I formed an opinion, and I thought I had better be off that ship. I should say that was about ten days or more before arriving at Durban.

The Waratah was very heavy on her final, return voyage, which although improving overall GM, with the added bonus of no coal in the 'tween deck bunkers, created a vessel with reduced buoyancy. This was further compounded by relatively under powered engines. There can be no other explanation for ploughing through oncoming swells, rather than rising over them.

I did not speak to the captain about the ship; one does not like to talk about a ship to the captain, but I mentioned I was going to leave the ship at Durban. I gave no reason. 

[Mr. Sawyer gave evidence as to two remarkable dreams, quite simply and straightforwardly. It was clear that the dreams were produced by his disagreeable impressions of the ship. One, thrice repeated, was before he left her, and seems to have influenced his conduct in so far only as it vividly recalled to him the resolution he had already formed to leave the ship, a resolution which immunity from disaster had no doubt weakened, but which was only in abeyance. The importance of the dreams is as evidence of the state of mind produced in him by the ship's behaviour as he saw it.] 

When I was on board of her just before her departure (from Durban) she had a slight list to the starboard side, but nothing to speak of.

Confirmation from the skeptic that the Waratah was about to depart Durban, virtually upright, which was to be confirmed by expert testimonies to come...  

I heard the third officer express an opinion she was top-heavy.

Hearsay, but undeniably true for the most part of Waratah's short-lived service. But we still need to hear from other passengers and experts on this final voyage before coming to any presumptuous conclusions.

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