Apart from the irony of the tug Waratah searching for a vessel in distress let us take a closer look at the logistics of the operation. The Waratah crew was notified of the distress flares, 4 miles offshore, at roughly 6 pm. By 10 pm, FOUR hours later, they were unable to locate the vessel. Furthermore the crew GAVE UP the search, returning to port, while the flares were STILL VISIBLE to those onshore.
We assume that it would have been a straight forward operation if the crew of the Harlow had decided to return to the last guesstimate position of the Waratah, about 4 miles astern. This position was 0.5 miles offshore very close to the St John reef, Bluff Point. It was dark, a storm of exceptional violence was approaching fast from the southwest, the sea currents are notoriously treacherous at this location, the insurance implications if the mission went wrong etc etc etc... No, one can understand why Captain Bruce did not come about to investigate.
Lastly, if the crew of the Waratah could not see the flares how can we possibly assume that the lighthouse keepers at Cape Hermes, more than 3 miles distant, HAD TO HAVE seen the two flares from the dying Waratah????