Friday, 1 July 2016


Dragging for Bodies. .

HOBART, April 24.
It has been ascertained that, the Huon,
which recently capsized, had 900 cases
of fruit in the hold and 1,800 on deck.
The captain of the Huon believes that it
was the sudden turning round Robertson's
Point which gave the vessel a list, and 
he thought that she could right herself.
Dragging operations were carried on all
yesterday for the three bodies but with
out result. The crew lost the whole of
their belongings; several also losing

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
times before.

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
stern first.

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)

Sounds familiar....

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