Thursday, 11 May 2017


The SS Margarita, Greek cargo steamer of 4443 gross tons, disappeared without a trace off the South African coast in the vicinity of the Great Fish River, 6 October, 1925. 

The Register, Adelaide, 10 October, 1925

CAPETOWN, October 6.
The Greek cargo steamer Margarita
loaded with maize for Dakar, Senegal,
believed to have foundered with all hands
off Great Fish Point, between East London 
and Port Elizabeth - Natal. At 1 o'clock this 
morning an S.OS. was sent out from the 
vessel, reporting, 'Ship almost unmanageable. 
Twenty degrees list. Heavy seas breaking 
The liner Edinburgh Castle picked up
the message and reached the spot at
10.20 a.m., but could find no trace of
the Margarita, after a search in a 30-mile
circle. The Edinburgh Castle has now
abandoned the search, although three 
ships in the vicinity are keeping a lookout
the missing vessel. This weather, which
is very bad, is becoming worse.

The Margarita left East London last
night so heavily laden that, but for a high
tide, she would probably have been unable
to cross the bar.— Reuter.

Sunday Times, Perth, 11 October, 1925

Search Abandoned
CAPETOWN, Saturday.
The search for the Greek cargo
steamer Margarita has been 
abandoned. It ls believed that 
she capsized owing to her cargo 
shifting during Thursday's violent 
storm. It is understood that 35 
Greeks and one Japanese , were 
aboard, including two Greek 
passengers from Beira.

SS Margarita: 385.5 ft. in length; beam 48.5 ft.; depth of hull, 27 ft. was powered by a single triple expansion steam engine, making 10 knots. Apart from disappearing without a trace her other confirmed association with the missing Waratah was the same builders, Barclay, Curle and Co (launched 1901). If the reports were accurate the Margarita was overloaded with a resultant diminished buoyancy factor. Maize (grains) was notorious for shifting unless judiciously stowed and shifting boards deployed.  Most grains have a slip angle of about 20 degrees from the horizontal. If a steamer lists beyond 20 degrees the cargo will shift. The last message from the stricken Margarita referred to a list of 20 degrees. Together with reduced buoyancy and gale conditions she does not appear to have stood a chance. Margarita further proved that steamers could disappear without a trace - no wreckage or survivors. I strongly contend that Waratah foundered astern of the Harlow due to the sequence of events resulting from a fire on board. But there are other possibilities and the heavily laden flagship could have met a similar fate - in Waratah's case the 1300 tons of lead concentrates could have liquefied and shifted resulting in a very similar, disastrous scenario. Only time will tell what really happened to the Waratah.

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1 comment:

Mole said...

Fascinating and again similarities with the Waratah. Terrible end for all on board.