Friday, 23 December 2016


A feature of Waratah, mentioned by A.A. Hoehling, was her 'tall funnel stamped with the line's blue anchor'. This was a feature of all the Blue Anchor Line steamers servicing the Australian trade. There is no doubt in my mind that the tall funnel added to inherent top heaviness and presented a significant wind catchment surface area contributing to Waratah's tendency to hold in a list. It seems almost strange that this was not taken into consideration during the design phase. After all Waratah was pioneering new ground for the Lunds with her triple superstructure decks raising centre of gravity significantly. Waratah could be ballasted in such a way as to stabilise her, reducing the top heaviness factor, but at a huge price (which I have covered at length in this Blog). So why then the tall funnel? I found the clue to this when investigating the loss of the Yongala:

The Advertiser, Adelaide, Monday 9 November, 1903.

'could not help being struck
by her elegant appearance and 
the length of her funnel, the latter 
feature being devised to provide a 
better draught for the inferior quality 
of coal met with at the antipodes.'

With luxurious superstructure decks stretching ever higher towards the heavens, one didn't want first class passengers being overwhelmed by nasty smoke discharges from the funnel. These tall, prominent funnels were built into the structure of the steamers, which seems like sound construction practice. However, in storms of 'exceptional violence', instead of breaking off as many funnels did, such funnels had the potential to remain fixed, in effect assisting the forces causing the demise of the vessel. I don't personally believe the Waratah foundered due to storm forces, so this conjecture remains hypothetical. But in the case of Yongala I firmly believe the funnel played a part in the disaster.

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