Friday, 3 June 2016

NONE OF THE BOATS HAD PROVISIONS.

The Advertiser (Adelaide) Tuesday 19 April, 1910.

When off Gravesend the Board
of Trade made an inspection oi the boats,
but examined only two out of the 16.
None of the boats had provisions in them.
On painting the boats on the inside the
paint leaked through to the outside.
"There was boat drill once a week, but all 
that was done was to loosen the covers of 
the keats and then put them on again. 
In case of an accident it would have taken at 
least five minutes to unloosen the fastenings of
the coverings of the boats and they never lifted 
the boats off the chocks.
In Sydney it took 13 men with ropes and
blocks to lift the No. 6 boat off the chocks,
and then they had to get a steam winch
to swing the davits out. The davits had
become rusted. At Adelaide he had 
attempted to paint two of the aft boats.
One of them was so soft and rotten that
it would not take the paint. He could
have put his hand through the wood at the
bottom of the boat This was an outside
boat, which had never been,swung out; it
had never been moved out of its position
during the voyage The rafts were in
such a position that until the boats were
removed they could not be launched at all.

If the witness statement was true it would go a long way to answering a reader's question; 'why, if there was indeed a fire on board, did Captain Ilbery not attempt to launch lifeboats and save passengers?'. It would not have been possible in an emergency situation, taking into consideration the notorious sea, currents, and unforgiving reefs.
Fire drill was never practised during the
voyage and so far as he knew no positions
had been allotted to officers or crew in
event of a fire.

A harsh allegation, if true, would have further compounded the above crisis.

The captain would not "pay him off", 
but at Sydney the witness got a
man to take his pace, and he was
"then paid off".
The vessel had a list the whole voyage,
and it was so noticeable that the water
when washing down the decks need to collect 
in the recesses of the alleyways either
on the port or the starboard side, according 
to the angle and direction of the list.
The recesses were about 10 ft, in the alley-
way, and at the end of the recess the water
was sometimes 18 inches deep.

This seems like a fair description of a heavily laden vessel with reduced freeboard.

John Taylor Anderson, of the Victorian
Stevedoring Company, Melbourne, said that
cargo had been stowed well and securely.
Every precaution had been taken to
prevent shifting or chafing. There was no
coal or cargo on deck except a cow in a box built on deck.

A cow? 
James Power, foreman of the Victorian
Stevedoring Company, said the cargo had
been properly stowed.


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