Saturday, 29 July 2017


This gives an account of what could happen in the case of an OFFICIALLY overloaded steamer:

The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 May, 1904.

The British steamship Workfield, a compara-
tively new vessel of 4257 tons register, came
to grief in the harbour yestorday under some-
what remarkable circumstances. She was
chartered by the Pacific Islands Company,
Limited, to load a cargo of phosphates at
Ocean Island for Stettin, Germany, and 
shipped about 6000 tons. A call was made 
at Newcastle on Monday, to replenish her 
bunkers for the Journey, but, owing to the fact
that her draught when fully laden was too great 
to permit her crossing the bar she came on to 
Sydney on Thursday to complete taking in
coal. The Workfield berthed at the Pyrmont
wharf, and after loading about 500 tons of
coal, was to have sailed early yesterday 
morning for Stettin, via Natal.
It appears that prior to the hour fixed for
sailing one of the inspectors of the Depart-
ment of Navigation visited the Workfield at
tho Pyrmont wharf, and found that she was
overloaded to the extent of three or four inches. 
A written notice was then served upon
Captain E. G. Broadhead, the master of the
steamship, requiring him to lighten the vessel. 
This request was ignored, and the next step 
taken by the departmental officers was
to cancel the clearance which had been is-
sued to him by the Customs Department.
The action taken by the officers, however,
had no effect upon Captain Broadhead, who
was distinctly told that he could not proceed 
to sea with the Plimsoll marks submerged. 
Arrangements had been made for a
pilot to take the vessel to sea at 9.30 a.m.,
and Captaln Broadhead had already paid the
necessary pilotage dues. The pilot, Captain
Sweet, however, upon learning that the ves-
sel was overloaded, declined to take her to
sea in such a condition.
The master of the Workfield, who,
it is alleged, steadfastly refused to
carry out the instructions of the
officials, thereupon determined, contrary
to the Navigation Act, to take the vessel to
sea himself without the aid of a pilot. It is
presumed from the fact that pilotage dues
had been paid that Captain Broadhead was
aware that compulsory pilotage in force
at this port, and he is not the holder of an
exempt master's certificate. He gave the 
orders to the engineroom and the Workfield
hauled away from the wharf. Captain Broad-
head was then confident that he was on his
way safely to Germany, despite the actions of
the Navigation Department, but he had not
proceeded far down the harbour before he
stranded the vessel on a mudbank. where she
remained fast for several hours.
Tho Workfield took the ground in what Is
known as the western channel, in the vicinity
of George's Head, and remained there until
3 o'clock in the afternoon, when under the
direction of a pilot she floated off without 
assistance. The vessel was then taken to 
Athol Bight, where the anchor was dropped. 
Shortly afterwards an officer of the Department 
of Navigation, acting under instructions from the
superintendent, served Captain Broadhead with
summons calling upon him to appear at the
Water Police Court on Monday next to answer
a charge of having committed a breach of the
Navigation Act by attempting to take his
vessel to sea when overloaded.
The Superintendent of Navigation, Captain
Edie, upon being seen, said that it was a
serious offence to take a vessel to sea with
her load-line submerged. The inspector was
only carrying out his instructions when he
served a notice on the master to lighten his
vessel, and had the request been complied
with all the trouble which had occurred would
have been avoided. The inspector had imported 
to him that he had served a notice on the master 
at 6 a m., and as it was ignored  the clearance 
was stopped. Under the provisions of the 
Navigation Act, overloaded ships came under 
the heading of "unseaworthy" ships, and the 
regulations had to be strictly enforced in the 
interests of life and property. He understood 
from the Inspector that the Workfield was 
overloaded to the extent of three or four inches. 
No notice having been taken of the orders of 
the department, the pilot, Captain Sweet, rightly
refused to take the vessel to sea. Captain
Broadhead then took upon himself the res-
ponsibility at attempting to take the steamer
out without a pilot, and without his clearance. 
The depth of water where the Workfield grounded 
was about 3 1/2 fathoms, or 22 feet 6 inches, and 
the Workfield at the time was drawing 23 or 24 feet.
Captain Sangster, an inspector under the
Department of Navigation, who detained the
Workfield, upon being seen in reference to the
matter, said that when the vessel was ready
for sea at the Pyrmont wharf at 6 o'clock
yesterday morning he found that she was 
below the load-line to the extent of 8 In. on 
one side, and that the Plimsoll mark was awash
on the other side. The Workfield was, therefore, 
overladen to the extent of about 4 in. in smooth 
water. He served the master with a written notice 
to lighten the steamer, but no notice was taken of 
the demand. Captain Sweet, the pilot, that declined 
to take the vessel to sea, whereupon Captain 
Broadhead proceeded on his own authority, and 
went aground near George's Head. When the 
vessel had been re-floated and moored in Athol
Bight he served the captain with a summons
to appear before the magistrate's court on
Monday next.
The agent for the owners of the Workfield
at Sydney is the Bellambi Coal Company, and
immediately upon learning that the steamer
was stranded, the manager of the company
(Mr. F. G. Waley) boarded the vessel and
interviewed the captain as to what had taken
place. Captain Broadhead assured Mr. Waley
that at the time he left the Pyrmont wharf
he was unaware that the vessel was over-
loaded, and that he was not served with a
notice to lighten the vessel until after
he was aground on the mudbank. The
captain also stated that as he had been
granted a clearance he presumed that he 
had a right to proceed to sea.
A survey of the Workfield will be conducted
this morning to ascertain whether she has
sustained any damage as a result of the
grounding. The steamer is not making any
water, and as the bank upon which she
stranded is only mud it is hoped that the
vessel has escaped damage. The agents for 
the vessel reported the mishap to Lloyd's 
representatives yesterday afternoon, and 
subsequently arrangements were made for a 
diver to descend this morning to view the 
bottom of the steamer.
Tho Navigation Act provides that "where a
British ship, being in any port in
New South Wales, is by reason of
the defective condition of her hull,
equipment, or machinery, or by reason of
under-manning or over-loading, or improper
loading or ballasting, unfit to proceed to sea
without serious danger to human life, having
regard to the nature of the service for which
she is intended, any such ship (hereinafter
referred to as 'unsafe ') may be provisionally
detained for the purpose of being surveyed, or
for ascertaining the sufficiency of the crew,
and either finally detained or released."
The penalty provided for proceeding to sea
after service on the master of a notice of 
detention is a fine not exceeding £1000, or 
imprisonment with or without hard labour for
any term not exceeding three years.

If Waratah had had an appropriate loadline in the region of 27 ft., max. draught, she would have been officially overloaded when departing Australian ports (av. 29 ft.). This would have made her, by law, unseaworthy. Captain Ilbery would have been issued with a fine of £ 1000 or imprisoned for 3 years (OMG). What would have happened if Captain Broadhead ('thickhead') made his escape to sea? Would he have escaped the fine etc...? Furthermore, the Workfield was surveyed after grounding on soft mud, to inspect for hull damage. This reminds me of the very heavy Waratah taking the ground in soft mud at Port Adelaide - one could NOT assume that the hull had escaped damage, even though it was not making water.

No wonder the Inquiry did not explore Waratah's loadline = unseaworthy = culpability = huge claims payouts

Friday, 28 July 2017


It has been said that an overwhelming fire on board Waratah was highly unlikely. A coal bunker lasting for 4 days in December of 1908, seems to be 'besides the point'. The owners quoted that there was nothing particularly flammable on board. There did not need to be! The following is a list of famous liners which succumbed to flames. This list does not include the literally thousands of lesser known vessels which were doomed to the same fate:

- City of Honolulu - burned completely in Pacific, return maiden voyage, 1922
- Fontainebleu - burned completely off Djibouti, 1926
- Paul Lecat - burned for two days, 1928 - total loss
- City of Honolulu (previously Kiautschhou) - burned out 1930 (at berth)
- Europa - devastating fire, 1929
- Munchen - fire, 1930
- Bermuda - two fires, 1931
- Georges Philippar - fire, 1932
- Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft - burned out, 1932
- L'Antique - fire broke out in passenger accommodation, 1933
- Morro Castle - destroyed by fire, 1934
- Ausonia - boiler explosion started fire, 1935
- Berengaria - plagued by fires, 1938 (wiring, cause)
- Lafayette - fire broke out in provision section, 1938 - total wreck, which was towed to Rotterdam
- Reliance - fire, 1938
- Paris - serious fires twice in career, finally heeling over in port after fire
- Caledonia - burned at moorings, 1939
- Bremen - completely burned out, 1941
- Normandie - fire, 1942 - overloaded with water and capsized - inherently tender ship!
- USS Wakefield - fire, 1942
- John Ericsson - totally destroyed by fire, 1947
- George Washington - pier fire, 1947
- Monarch of Bermuda - burned to a hulk, 1947
- Empress of Canada - heeled over when loaded with water fighting fire, 1953
- Empire Windrush - fire after explosion in engine room, 1954
- Skaubryn - fire at sea, 1958
- Bianca C - burned out completely, 1961
- Brittany - burned from end to end, 1963 
- Lakonia - caught fire off Madeira, 1963
- Rio De La Plata - swept by fire, 1964
- Yarmouth Castle - fire spread quickly, 1965. Many passengers never got a chance to escape cabins
- Viking Princess - caught fire off Cuba, 1966
- Hanseatic - fire, 1966
- Paraguay Star - fire in port, 1969
- Gothic - caught fire, 1968 - seven crew died
- Fairsea - engine room fire, 1969
- Fulvia - engine room fire spread out of control, 1970
- Antilles - caught fire, 1971, and ultimately broke into three sections
- Seawise University (formerly Queen Elizabeth) - destroyed by fire, 1972
- Oriental Warrior - fire, engine room, spread quickly, 1972
- Meteor - caught fire near Vancouver, 1971
- Caribia - two fires, 1968 (and engine room explosion)
- Homeric - fire off New Jersey coast, 1973
- Malaysia Raya - burned out, 1976
- Cunard Ambassador - caught fire, 1974
- Rasa Sayang - serious fire, 1977, again 1980, destroyed
- Angelina Lauro - gutted, 1979 (galley fire)
- Leonardo da Vinci - fire broke out in chapel, 1980, burned out and heeled over
- Prisendam, caught fire in gulf of Alaska, 1980
- Reina del Mar - destroyed by fire, 1981
- Atlantis - lost to fire, 1983 
- Lavia - burned at Hong Kong, 1989
- Danae - badly damaged by fire, 1985
- Pallas Athena - fire, 1992
- Achille Lauro - fire off Somalia, 1994
- Romantica - burned out 1997
- Sun Vista - caught fire, 1999, and sank
- Mediterranean Sky - fire and sank at moorings, 2001

How very naive to claim that Waratah could not have been experiencing an out-of-control fire on board, forcing Captain Ilbery to turn back for Durban!!

In fact, statistically, it was far more likely for liners to meet their end as a direct result of fire than storms.

Morro Castle

Doomed Ships - Great Ocean Liner Disasters. William H. Miller, Jnr. 

Thursday, 27 July 2017


Dr Patrick John 'Jack' Carrick was born in 1885, to Herbert Bernard and Grace Carrick, Victoria, Australia. He was a passenger on the Waratah when she disappeared. Dr Carrick, a geologist, was intimately involved with the expansion of gold diggings into the Free State, South Africa.

Gold mining started in earnest in the district west of Vredefort, close to the Vaal River (Schoeman's Drift) during the 1880's. Rich gold bearing banket reefs were discovered running through three farms, the most notable being Lindesquefontein farm. This attracted the attention of what became known as the Philippolis Lindequesfontein Gold Company, the Philippolis Gold Mining Company and a further syndicate from Kroonstad (1886). The Free State Government proclaimed the Lindequesfontein farm a public digging, 1887, which then became known as the Lindequesfontein Gold Fields.

The gold mining slump of the 1890's affected these gold fields as it did the Transvaal, and claims were abandoned, the Lindequesfontein farm de-proclaimed. In december of 1904 the farm was once again proclaimed, swept along by the tide of renewed prospecting operations in the Vredefort district.
New gold mining concerns emerged from the post Boer War aftermath; Orangia Main Reef Limited, Vaal Rand Mines, New Discovery and New Rand Limited.

In this age of 'gold fever', Dr Carrick became involved with A.R. Sawyer  discovering payable gold on the re-proclaimed Lindequesfontein farm. Jack Carrick perished on the Waratah, just 24 years old, in the bloom of his career and riding the wave of exciting new gold discoveries in the Free State.

The following was posted on facebook:

Rocky Road Wwisa I was a teenager when one of my uncles who'd been closely involved in mining all his life told me that the Waratah was carrying some promising mining ore samples to the UK for assaying when she disappeared. The ore samples were allegedly from the Free State area and he was adamant that had fate not intervened, the extremely wealthy goldfields around Welkom would have opened up well in advance of their first yields in the early 1950's.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


I have devoted many posts to the loss of the Waratah rather than the loss of 211 souls, 27 July, 1909. The mystery is seductive and my interest in looking for reasons and speculating what happened that cold winter's day, borders on the obsessive. Remembering what happened 108 years ago must give us all pause to reflect on the human aspect of the tragedy. 211 vibrant human beings were confronted by the terror of inevitable death. We hope it came quickly and mercifully, but the reality might have been prolonged and anguished. 

In my reading of similar tragedies (Titanic and Vestris to name but two examples), it has been, to a large degree, comforting that masters, officers and crew went beyond the call of duty to allay panic and fear. Reassurance, even though it be false, was given and limited the moment of horrific reality to the crisis point. I choose to believe that Captain Ilbery and his devoted officers did the same for passengers on Waratah. 

The public at large did not want to believe the Harlow account - one of fire and explosions. This is natural - who would? Rolling over in a severe storm was more palatable and 'merciful'. Even better, the remote possibility Waratah was adrift on the southern ocean and her complement safely awaiting rescue. 

I remain steadfast in my belief that Waratah and her souls met their end off Poenskop, 8 pm, 27 July. My only consolation is the probability that smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation caused disorientation and a lesser awareness of the horrors awaiting. I do not believe Waratah exploded, but rather due to a multitude of adverse factors and the consequence of fire on board, went down quickly in 38 m of water. I don't believe lifeboats would have been of much use. 

Once it was all over, it had just begun for the families and loved ones of those on board. This arduous journey was never going to provide crucial closure for the grieving process. Many wives were left widowed, not only having to deal with protracted grief, but also find a means of providing for children. Without closure, those battling with grief might have been susceptible to Complicated Grief Disorder (CGD). We sling about the phrase 'moving on' in the modern era. How were these poor unfortunates supposed to 'move on'? How were their descendants supposed to 'move on'? 

CGD can have debilitating consequences: a sense that life is meaningless; anger and bitterness regarding the circumstances of the loss; a persistent major depressive disorder with far-reaching effects for the individual and those nearest and dearest. I don't believe any of us can imagine the cortisol-driven detriments to overall health and well-being caused by prolonged hope (Waratah afloat) followed after many months by the harsh reality that Waratah was gone. The depressive backlash must have been all the more severe after being buoyed by false hope. 

Little is known of what present-day descendants feel, vicariously carrying their family loss and absence of closure? Is it something that lingers in the sub-conscience only to find a dimmed light of day when some terrible plane, rail, car, shipping tragedy makes the headlines on CNN? Who are the descendants and what is their collective voice? 

If Waratah were to be found, would it ease the hereditary despair by casting a wreath and offering a few private words to the sea breeze and foam marking the site of Waratah and her souls' last fight? Are blogs such as this a further inflammation of poorly healed wounds? Does it achieve anything, at the end of the day, speculating endlessly about a lost steamer? I am and could never be in a position to make this important judgment. Would I stop if told to do so? It is an obsession and it would be difficult to give it up. Let descendants speak freely, if they wish to, and I am listening...

Passenger List:

Mrs Adamson
Mrs Allen and infant
Miss Rose Allen
Mrs Ashe
Mr Niel Black
Mr T. Blackburn
Mrs Bowden and infant
Master Bowden
Mr Bowden
Miss Bowden
Mrs Bowden
Mr E.A. Bradley
Col. P.J. Browne
Mr P.J. Calder
Miss M. Campbell
Dr J.T. Carrick
Mr A. Clark
Miss P. Connolly
Miss Connolly
Miss L. Cooke
Mr Wm. Coote
Mr Wm. Cumming
Mrs Dawes and child
Mr Donaldson
Mrs Dunn
Miss D. Dunn (7 years old)
Miss B. Dunn (2 years old)
Mr J. Ebsworth
Father Fadle
Mr M.J. Govendo
Mrs Govett
Master Harvey
Mrs Harvey
Mrs J. Harwood
Miss H.G. Hay
Mrs A. Hay
Miss Henderson
Miss M. Hesketh-Jones
Mr R.E. Hugo
Mr J. Hunter
Mrs Ibbett
Mrs Lascelles
Miss K. Lees
Mr R. Lowenthal
Mrs A. Lyon and infant (1)
Mr J. McCausland
Miss Miller
Miss B. Murphy
Mr E.A. Murphy
Mr C.B. Nicholson
Mr P. O'Connor
Mr E.B. Page
Mrs Page
Mrs Petrie
Master Petrie
Mrs A.E. Press
Miss D. Schaumann
Miss L. Schaumann
Mrs Sillery
Miss Starke
Mrs Starke
Mr W. Stocken
Mrs Stocken
Stocken child (5 years old)
Stocken child (2 years old)
Mr J.G. Stokoe
Miss Taylor
Mr Charles Taylor
Mrs Taylor
Miss M. Taylor
Master C.G Taylor
Mr J.F.J. Taylor
Miss Taylor
Mr G.H. Tickell
Mr David Turner
Mrs Turner
Turner child (14 years old)
Turner child (12 years old)
Turner child (7 years old)
Turner child (6 years old)
Turner child (3 years old)
Mrs Wilson
Mrs Wilson
Miss L. Wilson
Miss Wilson (8 years old)
Mr Wright
Mrs Wright
Miss Young

Crew List:

P.R. Alexander - general servant
W.R. Allen - general servant
C. Allen - able seaman
G.W. Ambrose - able seaman
H. Barr- carpenter's mate
C. Baxter - general servant
A. Bellringer - trimmer
W. Belshaw - able seaman 
F. Benson - trimmer
A. Blake - general servant
R. Bocker - fireman and trimmer
P. Bonham - general servant
A. Brown - fireman and trimmer
L. Burgess - general servant
C. Butcher - fireman and trimmer
W.M. Campbell - general servant
J.C. Clark - assistant steward
J. Clarke - fireman and trimmer
N. Clarke - apprentice
W. Comper - greaser and fireman
J. Conn - greaser and fireman
J. Costello - able seaman
T. Coulson - trimmer
A. Cumming - greaser and fireman 
H. Dance - trimmer
A. Dennison - general servant
G. Dixon - trimmer
F. Dorander - fireman and trimmer
W. Edwards - general servant
A.R. Francis - general servant
C. French - fireman and trimmer
H.C. Fulford - surgeon
A. Georgeson - boatswain
H.A. Gibbs - apprentice
S.E. Gorham - pantryman
R.A. Hamelton - refrigerating engineer
J. Hamilton - junior engineer
C. Hammond - general servant
H.W. Harding - general servant
W. Harding -  - able seaman
O.E. Haysom - butcher
H.F. Hemy - second officer
G.W. Hodder - chief engineer
T. Humphreys - senior third engineer
F.T. Hunt - junior engineer
A. Hunter - second engineer
J.E. Ilbery - master
J. Immelmann - fireman and trimmer
T. Ings - general servant
P. Isaacs - general servant
J. Jacobson - fireman and trimmer
J.H. Jamieson - senior fourth engineer
J. Jewers - officer
J. Jones - second baker
J. Kelly - trimmer
K. Lindross - fireman and trimmer
J. Lydiard - fireman and trimmer
A. Martin - able seaman
H. McCrone - trimmer
M. McIlver - able seaman
W. McKierian - trimmer
W. McPhee - general servant
G. Meek - trimmer
P.F. Monaghan - general servant
F. Monk - fifth engineer
A.P. Moore - able seaman
J.P. Morgan - third officer
P. Murray - sculleryman
J. Nelson - fireman and trimmer
T. Newman - able seaman
A. Nicholls - forecabin steward
C. Owen - chief officer
P. Oxford - barman and storekeeper
K. Papinean - pantryman
S. Pearson - donkeyman
A.E. Phillips - baker and confectioner
F. Poland - assistant butcher
W. Rackliff - able seaman
W. Reinsch - fireman and trimmer
R. Robinson - ordinary seaman
W.B. Rogers - general servant
E. Rumbold - general servant
A. Sach - cook
F. Sale - cook
C. Samuelson - fireman and trimmer
A. Sandon - trimmer
E.J. Schafer - boatswain's mate and lamp trimmer
O. Schelier - fireman and trimmer
H. Seiffort - fireman and trimmer
F. Shasal - assistant pantryman
J.Shea - able seaman
P. Skailes - purser and chief steward
H.G. Smith - able seaman
W. Smith - storekeeper and refrigerating greaser
W. Smith - general servant
C.W. Southwell - cook
E. Stace - boatswain's mate
J. Steel - trimmer
B. Steiner - greaser and fireman
E. Sterne - general servant
G. Sudbury - general servant
E. Swan - stewardess
H. Tanner - fireman and trimmer
H. Taylor - trimmer
S. Templeton - chief cook
W. Thomas - general servant
W. Thornton - trimmer
G. Thruston - fourth officer
F. Trott - general servant
C. Turkle - able seaman
W. Waite - able seaman
R. Walker - carpenter
E.J. Walters - general servant
W. Walters - greaser
F.M. Wellington - general servant
W.G. White - general servant
S. Whitehorn - stewardess
A. Woodcock - general servant
G. Wyborn - general servant


Port St Johns, Eastern Cape (South Africa)

Updated at 21:32. Next update around 10:00.
Today, Thursday 27/07/2017
Clear sky.
15°0 mmGentle breeze, 4 m/s from northwestGentle breeze, 4 m/s from northwest
Clear sky.
21°0 mmLight breeze, 2 m/s from southeastLight breeze, 2 m/s from southeast
Clear sky.
15°0 mmLight breeze, 2 m/s from north-northeastLight breeze, 2 m/s from north-northeast
Tomorrow, Friday 28/07/2017
Clear sky.
11°0 mmLight breeze, 3 m/s from northwestLight breeze, 3 m/s from northwest
Clear sky.
10°0 mmGentle breeze, 4 m/s from north-northwestGentle breeze, 4 m/s from north-northwest
Clear sky.
23°0 mmGentle breeze, 4 m/s from eastGentle breeze, 4 m/s from east
Clear sky.
18°0 mmGentle breeze, 4 m/s from east-northeastGentle breeze, 4 m/s from east-northeast
Saturday, 29/07/2017
Clear sky.
13°0 mmLight breeze, 2 m/s from northwestLight breeze, 2 m/s from northwest
Clear sky.
14°0 mmGentle breeze, 5 m/s from northwestGentle breeze, 5 m/s from northwest
Clear sky.
27°0 mmLight breeze, 2 m/s from southLight breeze, 2 m/s from south
16°0 mmLight breeze, 3 m/s from westLight breeze, 3 m/s from west


Port St Johns