Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A COFFIN.

continued...

Seaman Nicholson:

Held what must be the most quoted conversation with Chief Officer Charles Owen when applying for a position on Waratah, London, prior to the pen-ultimate voyage. If true, it revealed the degree of discontent prior to loading the lead concentrates at Adelaide. Mr. Owen allegedly advised Nicholson: 

“If you can get anything else, take it, because this ship will be a coffin for somebody.”

Prophetic words in the same realm as Sawyer's predictions of doom. It is surprising that Mr. Owen stayed on with Waratah. Surely a man of such experience could have obtained employment on another steamer? Perhaps, like Captain Ilbery, pride came into the picture and if he were to have left the ship, someone else, someone unsuspecting, would have to have taken his place.

Mr. Owen's alleged condemnation did not stop at this point and during the voyage had another equally resonating conversation with a passenger by the name of H. Duncan Mason, who held an engineer's certificate. Mr. Owen remarked that Waratah “did not recover herself properly, and was not quick enough.” to which Mr. Mason replied, “Owen, if I were you I would get out of this ship. She will be making a big hole in the water some of these days.” and to which now famous quote, Mr. Owen responded, “I’m afraid she will.”

If we were to stop right here there would be every reason to believe that Waratah was beyond redemption and destined to founder off the South African coast or, if not there, at some point further into her tarnished service career. And that top heaviness had to be the fatal flaw....

but things were about to change...

to be continued...




No comments: