Saturday, 3 June 2017


The following is a list of vessels which went down off Port St Johns:

- Conch 1847
- Alice Smith 1861
- Nicholas 1862
- William Shaw 1873
- Adonis 1882
- Alfredia 1887 - twin screw steamer.
- Sybil 1913 
- Douglas Dodib 1914
- Frontier I 1926

The million dollar question arises: why, if the 465 ft. Waratah lies roughly at the position marked on the image below, has the wreck escaped attention and charting? It is said that a dark mass lying on the ocean floor could be seen by airmen in the early 20th Century. Why is this dark mass no longer visible from the air? I believe the answer lies in wrecks being covered by the tons of silt put out into the sea by the Umzimvubu and Nkadusweni rivers. If one peruses the list above the same can be asked: why are these wrecks not readily visible and, if nothing else, not known to recreational divers? Sybil and Alfredia lie virtually in the mouth of the Umzimvubu River. This does present a significant challenge to those actively looking for the wreck of the Waratah in this location. Sub-bottom sonar profiling would have to be employed to detect a wreck below the superficial sediment under which the wreck lies. This is easier said than done in a section of ocean which is plagued by rough seas and treacherous currents, particularly during winter months. But I believe it can be done and those with the means and finances are encouraged to look. My fear is that unless there is the lure of salvageable gold, silver and copper, no one is interested in the historical and cultural heritage value of such a discovery. 

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