Friday, 15 April 2016


Captain Frederick Tickell, whose son
was a passenger on the Waratah on her
last voyage, states that he saw the vessel 
leave Port Melbourne on July 1, 1909.
She was perfectly upright, and had no
sign of a list. He saw the Waratah proceeding 
astern of the Pilbarra, on which
he was a passenger from Port Adelaide,
down river to Largs Bay on July 6. He
watched her with a professional eye, and
at no time did she give him the impression 
of a tender ship. She remained perfectly 
upright oven when going round
the bends, and at a lime when the rudder
was over, and the tug which was assisting 
her was broad on the bow.

Captain Tickell had lost his only son with the Waratah. He must have been devastated and surely looking for reasons or cause for blame. But this was not the case. Instead of describing a tender, unstable vessel, he gave a succinct account of his observations. Let us remind ourselves:


To enable a critical examination to be undertaken of the evidence as to the ship's behaviour on her second homeward voyage, her approximate metacentric height when leaving each of the Australian ports has been calculated. It is as follows:

leaving Sydney               about foot

leaving Melbourne           about 1.5 feet

leaving Adelaide             about 1.9 feet

Captain Tickell's description matched the GM figure of 1.5 ft. when Waratah departed Melbourne. This is the same GM figure when Waratah departed Durban for the last time. Expert eyewitnesses made the same observations at Durban port that Waratah was perfectly upright and stable. When the crew of the Clan MacIntyre sighted Waratah off Cape Hermes and kept company with her for at least 3 1/2 hours, the combined witness accounts described a steamer, upright and steaming strongly.

Captain Tickell had nothing to gain from his candid honesty which brought perspective back into the equation of the much maligned steamer. By the final voyage, Captain Ilbery had conquered the GM quandary.

Captain Tickell - courtesy Shirley Joy.

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