Tuesday, 9 February 2016


'They tell you the Waratah foundered near Port St. John’s and this is probably true. Air crews have noted a dark mass on the sea-bed which is not marked on the charts. It is said that natives picked up a lifebuoy with the name Waratah painted on it and tried to sell it to a trader. But there was no wireless in those days, the newspapers arrived a week late at the lonely stores of the Wild Coast, and the trader had not heard the Waratah was overdue. When the news reached him it was impossible to trace the lifebuoy or the natives. However, the trader is said to have made a sworn statement to the police; natives had not only picked up a lifebuoy but they declared they had seen the liner sinking off the Bashee River mouth.'

This interesting extract from Lawrence Green's Harbours of Memory, presents another tantalising clue that the wreck of the Waratah might very well lie off Port St Johns. It seems unlikely that the 'natives' had seen the 'liner sinking off the Bashee River mouth' some 50 n miles southeast of where the trader was based. It is far more plausible they saw the liner sinking off Port St Johns.

What does the 'dark mass' represent and where does it lie, precisely ???

St Johns / Umzimvubu River, circa 1900.

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