Saturday, 9 April 2016


Something has always puzzled me about the coordinates quoted in the press for both Cape Hermes and the position quoted by Captain Bruce where the Waratah's lights disappeared after two significant flashes. Why on Google Earth do the positions reflect significantly out to sea? Instead of  relying on Google Earth for the independent coordinates, I decided to establish the distance between the coordinates quoted in the press i.e.  31 38 S, 29 55 E, for the location of the Waratah 'wreck', and the widely quoted coordinates for Cape Hermes, 31 36 S, 29 58 E.

example newspaper extract, 1909.

The agent adds that the Harlow
sighted a smoking vessel at 7.30 on the
evening of July 27, and the explosion occurred 
at 8 o'clock. The distance was too
great for the Harlow to ascertain the ship's
identity. The position of the wreck was
latitude 31 deg. 38 min. south and longitude
29 deg. 55 min. east.

example newspaper extract, 1909:

Captain Weir, of the Clan McIntyre, stated
that he sighted the Waratah on July 27, at
6 a.m., in lat. 31.36 S., long. 29.58 E., which
is (approximately) the position of Cape Hermes. 
The Waratah crossed from the starboard to 
port bow, and went out of sight about 9.30 a.m.

This is what I got:

Distance:6.013 km (to 4 SF*)
Initial bearing:231° 55′ 51″
Final bearing:231° 57′ 25″
Midpoint:31° 37′ 00″ S, 029° 56′ 30″ E

6.0 km is 3.247 nautical miles

The mouth of the Nkadusweni River is 3.7 nautical miles northeast of Cape Hermes.

The wreck of the Waratah HAS to be lying at a position just short of Poenskop and the mouth of the Nkadusweni River, bearing 0.5 nautical miles offshore.

The image below illustrates that the coordinates for Cape Hermes, as quoted in the press, are significantly 'out to sea' from the true mark, Port St Johns. The same applies to Captain Bruce's coordinates, but together, relative to one another, the truth of the mystery takes on a vivid and convincing meaning. There is clearly a marked discrepancy between the position of coordinates on Google Earth compared with coordinates charts, circa 1909. But if you shift the two points to a starting point at Cape Hermes, you get a position just short of the Nkadusweni River as the second, crucial position and outcome.

There is no doubt in my mind ! 

Check this out for yourselves.

view from the Harlow, astern

3.245 nautical miles from Cape Hermes - 05 nautical miles offshore.

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