Monday, 14 March 2016


The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 14 February, 1911

An interesting theory as to the real cause
of the disaster which overtook the barque
Glenbank on Monday last with such appalling
suddenness was set forth in a telegram received 
by the Acting Chief Harbour Master
from the wharfinger at Roseburne today
that a ship with 1800 tons ore in her holds
presumably well stowed should capslze without 
warning was an occurrence altogether
outside the scope of local maritime knowledge 
and the general opinion amongst master
mariners at Fremantle was that the vessel
had struck one of the many dangerous reefs
in the vicinity. A wire received by Captain Winzor 
yesterday would appear to confirm that supposition. 
According to the survivor's statement to the wharfinger 
the vessel at the time of the disaster was under reduced 
canvas as shown by the fact that only the
lower topsails, Inner and outer jibs and the main 
and foretopmast staysails were set. In
addition one of the lower topgallant rails
was bent onto the foreyard and set. In fact she 
had been reduced to such an extent that
nothing short of a hurricane would have warranted 
a further reduction.
Kitain (Katola - sole survivor) stated that he was in 
the water from about 9pm to 4 30 the following morning. 
It is scarcely possible that in that time he swam 15 miles 
to the Island as he stated the possibility is that the vessel 
was much closer into Legendre lsIand and struck rocks in 
the vicinity. According to the wharfinger at Roeburne the 
vessel either struck the Delambre Reef or rocks in that
vicinity of Legendre Island. Arrangements have been 
made to endeavour to locate the wreck.

The Glenbank, a barque of 1481 tons, en-route from San Nicholas (South America) to Balla Balla, with
1800 tons of copper ore, sailed into a hurricane and foundered. Only Ankee Katola (Finn) who was
aloft survived and managed to swim the 15 miles to Legendre Island. It is believed the barque struck
rocks as reported by the survivor and that cargo had shifted. Wrecksite e.u. quotes that the Glenbank
turned turtle in the hurricane. Probing into the past for the truth can be a tricky business and
misinformation abounds. In the case of Waratah one has to keep searching and cross-referencing until
consistency emerges. There is also a tendency to rely on official documents from the time as gospel.
Everything needs to be taken with a pinch of salt until the facts make sense and the logic adds up. If
the Glenbank did strike a rock and went down within minutes it would certainly confirm my hypothesis
that the same happened to Waratah when she struck the outer margin of the St John Reef.

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