Friday, July 26, 2013

Waratah: The S.S. Waratah and Her Commander

An account of a new Australian steamer and her first passage.

(By A.G.H.)

S.S. Waratah at Adelaide

The idea of naming the steamships of the Blue Anchor line with names peculiar to Australia originated with the pioneer captain of that line, and although in the very earliest of the vessels the idea was not adopted, yet it soon became apparent to the owners that the suggestion was a wise and graceful one. We have now a list of steamers trading between England and the antipodes whose names, when mentioned, immediately remind the hearer of the different States in the great Australian continent. The latest addition to Messrs. Lund’s Blue Anchor line has been named after the gorgeous waratah, of New South Wales, a magnificent scarlet blossom indigenous to that State.

As I sit on the promenade deck of the Waratah in the great dividing line between the two hemispheres, on this my seventeenth passage between England and Australia, the reality is borne in upon the mind of the advantage of size in the matter of transit through the ocean. Here we are steaming along in the large new Blue Anchor liner, with a head wind, and yet practically little or no motion is experienced. The reason of the steadiness is not only due to the 10, 000 tons burthen of the Waratah, but also to her construction. When I first saw the new steamer at Tilbury, the idea was that she would prove a great roller, owing to the height of her many decks above the water-level. The lowest of these, for first-class passengers, is one deck higher than the spar deck on the P. & O. steamers, and the promenade deck, which also has extensive cabin accommodation, is he same height as the boat deck on most of the ocean steamers. The Waratah’s boat deck towers above these, and the bridge looks unusually high. The funnel seems an enormous size round, but we are told that it is not so large in diameter as the Geelong’s, and considerably lower, it being constructed in a modern and improved style that does not require such great size. The apparent top-heaviness of the Waratah appears to have no effect on the easy passage of the steamer through the water, as it is counteracted by her breadth of beam. Having travelled three times in the Geelong one naturally compares the two steamers, and the conclusion arrived at is that the lofty build of the Waratah does not cause any access of motion, but that this is if anything less in her than in the Geelong.

With regard to the interior plan of Messrs. W. Lund & Son’s new liner it differs in many respects from the older vessel, and in some of these differences the advantage is with the older steamer – at least in the opinion of the writer. The first-class cabins are not quite so large as those of the Geelong, and I understand that the smaller steamers of the Blue Anchor line have even larger rooms than this last named steamer. Another difference in the plan of the Waratah is that no single cabin in the first-class has a porthole close to the water, owing to the fact that a gangway runs all round outside the cabins. This last mentioned difference causes less fresh air from the sea to come directly into them. In other respects the Waratah keeps up the record of the Blue Anchor line, and this fact is more noticeable as so many old faces are to be seen on board the new steamer. 

The aged quartermaster, who boasts of his 79 summers, but who looks so hale and fit that it is difficult to believe that he has lived so long, is one of them. Then there is the purser, whose face is so familiar to those who have travelled in the Geelong, and who is most obliging to all. 

It has been my privilege to travel four times across the ocean with the commander of the Waratah, and on each occasion I have been more struck than before with his unique personality, and with the extreme suitableness of that personality for the position that he is called upon to occupy. Simple and unpretentious in manner, he yet has a dignity about him that would at once forbid a liberty, and all who serve under him do so with the utmost respect, and, in most cases, with great love and veneration. Who that has heard Captain Ilbery read the Church of England service, which he does every Sunday morning when there is no clergyman among the passengers, will forget the impressive manner in which the service is conducted, and the observant listener will not fail to notice that only one who enters into and participates in the petitions could present them in the tone of genuine devotion in which they are uttered.

The Lutine Bell, Lloyd's of London: rung when a ship is lost.

1 comment:


Mole,the lady said the Waratah was stable. I'm inclined to believe her well travelled and sensible account.