Saturday, 5 December 2015


On the second voyage outward two incidents should be recorded. The first is testified to by the witness Pinel, who was carpenter's mate on the "Waratah," and had been nine years in the Royal Navy. There was, he said, a big roll crossing the Bight, and the impression made upon his mind led him to say that he thought "she was never going to come back two or three times." 

The GM issue was very far being resolved.  

The second incident is spoken to by Mr. Mason, an engineer, holding a first class certificate, and of 33 years experience at sea, who was also a personal friend of the "Waratah's" chief officer. From his evidence it appears that, coming out of Melbourne, bound for Sydney, when there was a breeze the ship heeled heavily and did not recover herself properly. This experience led him to make the strong remarks to the chief officer set forth in his evidence already given. Mr. Mason is corroborated by Dr. Thomas, who was then surgeon on the "Waratah," and who therefore possessed a trained mind. There is also some general evidence as to the peculiar "hang" at the end of the roll. On the other hand, it will be seen from the tabular statements there is a considerable amount of evidence that she behaved well on this voyage. It is to be remarked that the ship was in a distinctly light condition, her draught when crossing the Bight being about 23 feet mean, and coming out of Melbourne 21 feet 5 inches mean.

There is no doubt that the Waratah was 'distinctly light' at this stage, and it is very interesting to note the two draught figures of 23 ft. and 21 ft. 5 in. These draught figures were recorded in a vessel registered for a maximum draught of more than 30 ft. These figures are considerably short of 28.9 ft. (departing Durban) and well below the 'technical' max. draught of 27 ft. To a large degree, the figure of 23 ft. can be explained by the tail end of the voyage crossing the Bight (coal burned out), and discharging cargo at Adelaide and Melbourne, further reducing the figure to 21 ft. 5 in. Buoyancy was certainly not a problem, but top-heaviness played centre stage. 

There is no evidence to show how the cargo was stowed at any part of this outward voyage.

One gets the feeling that there must have been some relief, not having to deal with further eyebrow raising evidence. 

Great Australian Bight, coast.

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