Wednesday, 31 May 2017


The following newspaper report captures public incredulity, BEAUTIFULLY.
The Coburg Leader, Friday 11 March, 1910.
The most remarkable feature throughout hasbeen the apparently casual manner inwhich captains of ships have treateddiscoveries which should certainlyhave a bearing one way or the otherin regard to the fate of the Waratah.
The captain of one vessel saw asteamer apparently on fire and subsequently noted two explosions: Heconcluded quietly that the Waratahhad blown-up but he never went closeto see if there were any signs offloating debris or wreckage that mightestablish the sunken vessel's identity.
The word 'quietly' resonates as loudly today as it did in 1910. The credibility of Captain Bruce's account was doomed for this very reason.
The captain of the Insizwa sees whathe takes to be human bodies in thewater, but bless your lifehe does notworry about it. It is suggested thatit may have been skate or some otherlarge fish but nobody knows becausethe skipper of the Insizwa was tootired to go closer. 
If the matter were not so serious, this passage would be  hilarious.
Some men on an island saw a vessel beating her way under canvas and she was thought to have been the Waratah but for the fact that the vessel reported had two funnels while the Waratah has only one.Some people, experts too, said thefishermen were probably mistaken andthat it was a one funnel boat after all.
And how they wanted the facts to confirm the Waratah was adrift.
Now the story of the floating corpsesis revived and the information is notmuch more definite than it was before.The one conclusion that an ordinarylandsman is 'forced' to is that the average seafaring man is very unstableand almost unreliable in his observations on "ships that pass in thenight" and also that he takes little orno trouble to verify his impressionsupon what he had seen.
I could not have put this better if I tried. Captain Burce's observations were as doomed as the Waratah herself.

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