By Staff Writers
First published in The Age on August 4, 1909
THE MISSING LINER
NO NEWS OF THE WARATAH
CRUISERS SENT IN SEARCH
London, 3rd August.
The alarm which has been aroused at Capetown owing to the non-arrival at that port of Lund’s Blue Anchor liner Waratah, 10,000 tons, which left Durban on 26th July, has led the Government to take action with the view of ascertaining the whereabouts of the vessel.
The cruisers Forte and Pandora, of the Cape of Good Hope station, have left Simon’s Town and Durban respectively in search of the Waratah.
It is considered probable that the liner has experienced a breakdown of machinery during the recent heavy gales off the coast of Cape Colony, and that she has southward.
OWNERS WITHOUT NEWS
The owners of the Waratah are without any news as to the whereabouts of the missing vessel.
ANXIETY IN MELBOURNE
REASSURANCES BY NAUTICAL MEN
There was great anxiety among the relatives and friends of passengers on board the Lund Blue Anchor liner Waratah yesterday at the news that the vessel was overdue at Capetown, and that fears for her safety were entertained.
Throughout the day Messrs. John Sanderson and Co., the local agents, were besieged with inquiries as to whether they had received any news of the steamer. Early in the morning they despatched cablegrams to Capetown and Durbin, asking for information immediately, and in the evening they received a reply simply stating that there was no news of the vessel.
Among nautical men who know the South African coast well, no fears are entertained as to the vessel’s safety. They argue that nothing short of rocks or collision with a derelict would sink her; and if she was wrecked on the coast, news must have reached Durban or Capetown long before this.
The general impression is that, having met rough weather, Captain Ilbery, always a most careful navigator, has steered for open sea, not caring to be too near the coast. At the time of the year the South African coast is almost continuously beset with heavy gales from the west and north-west, which rage in sudden angry gusts, unsteady both in direction and in force.
Battling southward in one of these to escape coastal dangers, with heavy seas striking her and propellers racing, it would be a simple matter for the Waratah to strain her engines or break one of her shafts. The result in the first case might mean a delay of days for repairs, while the vessel drifted with the ocean currents; in the second case it would mean that after the gale she would wallow northward at a miserable speed, over one propeller, to the Cape.
At her best the Waratah does not reel off more than 13 or 14 knots per hour, and with one propeller she would not do half the at rate, but she is a large, staunch, new vessel, and it is unlikely that she would be overwhelmed by any sea.
Even if she hit a derelict – a very unlikely occurrence – her eight watertight compartments and cellular double bottom would prevent her from sinking, unless she was almost rent in two.