For the last day or two dragging and diving operations have been diligently carried out in the vicinity of the wreck of the steamer Huon, and an account of the proceedings is given by Sergeant Ward, of the Water Police, who was in charge of the parties.
.. the party also including Diver
Mobbs. They arrived at the scene of
operations at about 7 a.m. and
proceeded to drag for the wreck in the vicinity of tho buoy previously placed
there by the pilot at Pearson's Point.
They dragged for about three hours, and
at the end of that time an obstruction
was encountered by the lines. When
the diver went down, however, it was
found, after an hour's search, to be only
a huge mass of seaweed. The Endeavour was then shifted about half a mile, the anchor was dropped, and the
crew started sweeping with about 20
fathoms of line. At 3.30 p.m. the Endeavour's crew were joined by the pilot boat, in charge of Captain Harris
and his son in separate launches. At 1.30 Mr. Harris, junior, located the
wreck, and immediately afterwards the
pilot boat and the men on the Endeavour came upon the submerged steamer.
The pilot then hooked on to her with
his grappling iron, and the diver
descended. When he came up
he brought a quantity of female
clothing which, on examination,
was found to be marked with Alice
Gillow's name. The wreck was then
buoyed, as darkness came on, and in
the morning operations were resumed,
the pilot boat anchoring directly over
the wreck and the diver descending.
At 10 a.m. he again boarded the vessel,
and travelled all over her port side, and
sending up a quantity of seats, life-
buoys, and a quantity of the female
passengers' luggage which was found in the wheel-house. After a brief respite the diver again descended at 1.30. and this time explored the star-board side, including the forecastle deck and wheel-house, and he met a quantity of other luggage. He next explored the main deck but could find no trace of any bodies. Some children's effects were then recovered and also a bicycle.
The diver reported that the Huon is
lying on a perfectly even keel, heading
for Pearson's Point. She is on a level, muddy bottom, and is very buoyant. There is every possibility of raising the vessel, which is not at all damaged. She lies in 17 fathoms of water. Captain Bruce claimed the Waratah is lying in 20 fathoms - 36 meters.
All those, years I have never
heard any talk or doubts of her stability. She was a favourite vessel with
the passengers, owing to the fact of
her being what is naturally called a
low-wooded vessel, she rolled less in a
seaway or ground swell than most
others of her class; as many of the
river people know, it can be pretty
lumpy between Three Hill Point and
the entrance of the Huon River in a strong southerly or south-west gale.
The vessel, on the sad occasion, it is
well known was overloaded (and yet not detained by port authorities),
and also very much out of trim(and top heavy), being very much by the head, and a strong
list, placing part of her hull very much deeper than usual in the water.
It would not take a large leak from the
time she took the last fruit on board,
called at several jetties and got about
30 miles on her homeward journey to
have a considerable quantity of water
in her forward compartment even if
the timbers under the watertight
bulkhead were clear, which is doubtful, the vessel being so much out
of trim the water could not reach
the pump or ejector. Having a strong
list with water in her very little would
start the cases of fruit or anything movable to slide down hill and there
in a dead calm (smooth water and no
wind) she suddenly lists over until
the water pours into the engine room
and saloon when nothing could save
her from sinking. The safe carrying
capacity of the vessel can easily be
Charles Walter: she had a slight list
to port and the bulk of cargo stowed
on the forward deck.
It has been suggested that the cases
were stacked so high on the deck that
the men had to stand on other cases
to put them up.
He had seen the Huon loaded so many
Mr. Edwards: (to expert assessor)
Did you find anything defective about
the stern of the vessel?
Yes; she had a false stern, and had had
a blow which knocked it over to star-board,
which would cause a leak.
As an expert, do you think that that
damage to starboard was caused by the
strain of the raising operations?- No.
Did you find anything else?- Yes, I
found several bad butts joints in the
planking on the side of the vessel, the
worst one which I could have put my
rule into just forward of the house, under
the Plimsoll mark.
To what height would you recommend
fruit to be stowed on the deck of the
Huon?- About one-fourth of the beam.
That makes a height or five cases on deck.
Mr. Gibson - To what do you assign the
accident? I think that water got into
her hold, and together with
the heavy deck load caused the accident.
Mr. Ewing: You say that water in the
hold was the direct contributory cause
of the accident? - Yes.
And that some of the water came in
through the stern? -Yes, and some
along the butts.
Did you see the place where there was
an opening in a seam of some quarter of
an inch under the bilge? There were several
cracks under the bilge caused by the
strain of getting her up.
Do you know that a water tank was placed
in the after hold and was blocked up some
time ago? That would be on the port side, yes.
(contributory to list)
William Cuthbert, stated that he had
had marine experience, and was a
passenger by the Excella on the day
of the foundering of the Huon. When he
first saw the Huon she was about half a
mile astern, and he noticed that she had
a list of about 10 degrees, and the list
increased gradually until she overtook
the Excella when she sank down by her
head suddenly about six inches. When
she had passed about six cases suddenly
fell overboard, and not six seconds later
the vessel dived head foremost, and then
she balanced back level and went down
Alfred Singer, dentist of Huonville,
who was also a passenger by the
Excella on April 21 said that he noticed
something peculiar about her.
Mr. Edwin: What?
Witness: She was sticking her nose too
far into the water.
To Mr. Edwards: She was very much
down by the head.
Mr Ebsworth, Waratah:
.....thought the "Waratah" showed a fondness for "putting her nose into them." (oncoming swells)