Waratah Found

Jim Kalafus

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While reading through various links (provided by Shelley) I came across a mention of the Waratah having been located during the summer of 1999. However, maddeningly, the link wasn't functioning, so does anyone know how the investigation into this most puzzling of shipwrecks has gone? Has an answer been found yet? For those who are interested, the best account of this disaster (and its often- reported supernatural element) I've come across can be found in Mr. Behe's "Lost At Sea"
 
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Jason Bidwell

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Christ, it's true! This is from NUMA's web site:

"The 18 year search and exploration for the wreck of the legendary SS Waratah has ended for author Clive Cussler and his intrepid NUMA crew led by Emlyn Brown and Dr. Peter Ramsay of NUMA's Soutch African sister organization. It has taken 9 expeditions since 1983 to search for the illusive wreck lost in 1909 with all hands and to secure positive identification of the wreck located somewhere off the Transkel Coast of South Agrica.

The June expeidtion used the most advanced side-scan sonar system on the continent. Survey party chief Dr. Peter Ramsay ... achieved astounding images of the wreck of the Waratah using a Klein System 2000 side-scan sonar. The wreck is lying upright on the seafloor at a depth of 113 meters with its bow facing a northeasterly directions. The forward section of the vessel was extensively damaged on impact with the sea floor and the effect of the current during the past 90 years. Last month's expeidtion was kept under tight wraps...."

Go to www.numa.net/waratah/located.htm to read the entire article.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Jason: Thank you for the information! Mr. Cussler mentioned finding the Waratah in (I believe) the appendix of his last book, but as one line in a list of found ships, and I've been trying to expand on that since then. I owe you one! Now, if anyone can tell me if the Cyclops was really found or if that was just a diver's tale, I'll be all set.....
 
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Jason Bidwell

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I was thinking about the Cyclops too. I read in Larry Kusche's "Bermuda Triangle Mystery - Solved" some time ago that a wreck similar to the Cyclops was found by a Navy diver in the late '60s or early '70s, near Norfolk, Virginia. The wreck's identity hadn't been confirmed, although Kusche strongly implied that it was the Cyclops. I have never read or heard anything more about it, so my hunch is that it did not pan out.

My edition of "BTM-S" is from 1975 or so, and I understand that a new edition of the book has been published. If anyone has a copy of this new edition, does Kusche include a new forword or something commenting about whether the reports about the Cyclops wreck were confirmed or not?
 

Jim Kalafus

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Jason: Yes, we read the same book. At the time that came out, in paperback, I was knee deep in the whole '70's world-of-the-paranormal thing, and it sure was an eye opener. Introduced me to rational investigation, for which I am grateful. But, to stay on topic, I've been looking for follow-ups on that original discovery for 23 YEARS and haven't come across any. What is frustrating about the whole thing is that the wreck site is beyond the reach of recreational divers, both in distance from the shore and in depth, so the chances of someone else accidentally confirming what Mr. Kusche's source claims are pretty much nil. Perhaps Clive Cussler might take it into his head to do some investigating, now that the Hunley and the Waratah have been located. I haven't read the update to BTM-S yet, but that IS a good direction for me to head in, so thanks. With the Pacific/ Brother Jonathon/ Waratah/Central America all located it's getting pretty tough to sustain that "lost mysteriously forever" mystique, so I guess it's only a matter of time....
 
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Jason Bidwell

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James -

The same thing happened with me. Although I grew up in the '80s, I was reading the same books, particularly Charles Berlitz's. Kusche certainly was an eye opener.

Anyhow, I looked on the web, and found a site on the USS Cyclops maintained by the Department of the Navy that says the ship's loss is "one of the sea's great unsolved mysteries," so I think we can take it as pretty conclusive that the diver's sighting did not pan out. It's a great site; it contains the basic facts and dates, a crew list, and photographs. Go to http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/cyclops.htm

Yeah, an age of mystery is really coming to an end, isn't it? I expect that within 50 years, or likely sooner, nearly all of the noteworthy ships will have been found. I can't wait for the "Arctic" to be discovered, if it hasn't already; since according to Ballard its sister ship "Pacific" was found in 1986, perhaps its time will come soon. The "Arctic" is one of the most interesting shipwrecks I've read about; frustratingly, there isn't much information out about it. All I have is Alexander C. Brown's great book, "Women and Children Last," and an 1854 copy of the New York Herald that includes some obituaries of the dead and first-hand narratives from several survivors.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Jason:I have some great pictures of the Collins fleet, acquired from a dealer in NYC. They are the hand-tinted newspaper prints : one of the whole fleet; one of the Arctic; one VERY striking one of the Pacific which included a list of the passengers lost in the sinking; two of the Adriatic and a REALLY beautiful lithograph of the Atlantic which was used as the cover of a piece of sheet music for a song called "The Atlantic's Return." If you are interested, I could forward this guy's address to you as he never fails to amaze me with the things he turns up, and at good prices, too. As I recall, from Women and Children Last, the wreck site of the Arctic WAS found a few years after the sinking, and in relatively shallow water, so it shouldn't be too hard for an ambitious dive team to find it again. I've been trying to find out what happenned to the Pacific since I read that reference in Dr Ballard's book, and have a personal theory that is too silly to put in a public posting. I'd like to see La Bourgogne found, as well, as I once did some work involving it (for a person who turned out to be insane) and have had an interest ever since. JIM
 
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Jason Bidwell

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James-

That would be very kind of you to give me that fellow's address. You can send it privately to my email address at jrbl24@aol.com. I've never bought prints before; could you give me an idea of what are considered good prices?

Your memory is correct; not long afterward, some fishermen found a wreck in the approximate area the Arctic sank, but like the Cyclops, this wreck's identity was never actually confirmed. I agree, if someone actually goes out looking for the Arctic it shouldn't be all that hard to find (relatively).

Ballard's casual mention of the discovery of the Pacific raised more questions for me than answers. Was there any indication of what caused the wreck? How well preserved was it? Did its location, and the known currents in the area, give any bearing to the validity of the Graham note? I wish Ballard would have spoken a little more about it.

Jason
 

Inger Sheil

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I recall how intrigued I was when hearing of the Waratah's location. It reminded me of what was once another great mystery of the sea - the disappearence of the SS Yongala during a cyclone in 1911. After years of controversy as to where she foundered, the wreck was finally located during World War II (but wasn't explored and identified until the 50s).

I wonder if any of these deep sea explorers could be persuaded to find the HMAS Sydney and solve one of Australia's remaining great maritime mysteries?

Regards,

Inger
 

Jim Kalafus

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Inger: Yes, the HMAS Sydney WOULD be a fantastic find, wouldn't it! Add to that, the West Coast Pacific (which isn't exactly LOST, in that the What where when...etc are all known, but I'd still love to see it found) City of Rio De Janeiro/ Vestris/Cyclops/ Marine Sulphur Queen/ City of Boston and we'd have one great book and video. To go back to your original statement, I'm surprised that more effort HASN'T been put into the HMAS Sydney; or has it been and I've missed it? A while back there was a TV series on Weather which had an extended segment on the Waratah.Last place I EVER expected that topic to turn up. This segment implied that the Waratah had been found relatively close to shore but in water too deep and too turbulent to explore. Has anyone any idea as to whether or not this is the ship Mr. Cussler located?
 

Inger Sheil

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James - I seem to recall some photographs were published on the internet of the Waratah (perhaps on one of the sites listed above?) - from recollection they were taken by deep sea submersible. The Cyclops and the Marine Sulpher Queen ring a bell from the earliest days of my interest in the sea.

I don't know if there has been a concerted effort to find the Sydney, although as you would know her loss has been the subject of tremendous controversy over the years and the subject of a recent book (which I confess I haven't read, but it sold well in mainstream Oz non-fiction).
 
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Jason Bidwell

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I searched on the web to see if I could find the photographs Inger thought she might have seen; I didn't have any luck, although someone else might. I did find an July 14, 1999 article from a South African online newspaper called Za*Now that revealed that the reason why the expedition to find the Waratah was kept under tight wraps was because Emlyn Brown feared public humiliation if he was wrong about where he thought the ship was; it also reported that Brown had acquired a license and permit to protect the Waratah from plundering.

Jason
 

Jim Kalafus

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That Waratah segment on the Weather Documentary was ultimately a frustration. They had GREAT archival quality photographs (some of which I had never seen) a narrative that actually flowed, an interesting potential discovery THEN at the very last moment there was a three second clip of a camera being lowered into some turgid water and the mention that the water was too deep and too turbulent to be explored and (I think) that they couldn't get the camera down to the wreck site because of the currents! I wish I had it on video. I'm pretty sure that NUMA wasn't involved, and have been questioning whether both groups found the same ship.
INGER: The Cyclops and the Marine Sulphur Queen were both "victims" of "the Bermuda Triangle" (you can guess my feelings on THAT one by the quotation marks) and I would like to see them found just to help put an end to that silliness! If you are looking for a GOOD fast read, "The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved" by L. Kusche is a must. Clear, well researched, and definitely the final word on the subject. PLUS you don't have to be embarrrassed when someone catches you reading it!
 

Inger Sheil

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James :) That's probably where I first ran across them. I spent a childhood fascinated with 'mysteries of the sea' type things, and naively put faith in the authorial power of writers like none other than Berlitz (I still claim, though, that even at my earliest age I regarded 'Chariots of the Gods' with skeptisism). Fortunately I was able to come across a book - and I wish I could remember the title - which took a very healthily skeptical look at mysteries such as that of 'Flight 19'. It soon became apparent that yes, weird stuff *does* happen at sea...but it happens in all the seas of the world, and there isn't an alien lurking behind every disappearance. Recently came across some work on the Orang Medan, that odd tale - which effectively debunked the story. And speaking of what may be urban myths of the sea...is there any truth in the story of the ice-bound 'Octavia', which was found bound in ice with a frozen crew many years after she vanished while trying to find the Northwest Passage? That was a staple of Berlitz type books...
 
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Easley South Carolina
Inger, where did this story come from? Frankly, I have a tough time with it for several reasons. If it was a ship caught in the Arctic ice, surely it would have been crushed by moving ice and water freezing over. Had it been adrift in the sealanes like any other berg, it's lifespan would still be measured in days...just long enough for it to reach warm waters and melt. Either way, it smells pretty hokey to me.

In regards weird stuff happening at sea, I've seen it often enough, though fortunately, not to any lethal extremes.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Jim Kalafus

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Inger AND Michael: That Octavia (sometimes Octavian or about a half dozen other variant names) was a staple of those "True Occult" books of the late '60's-early 1980's. I never DID track down anything, anywhere, related to it that WASN'T in a book with "stories that science doesn't dare explain" as the subtitle. Remember the detail of the captain of the salvage ship having to wrest the logbook from the hands of the dead captain...or was it mate....or was it cabin boy...or was it Thomas Andrews? Wow, that got me when I was like 8 years old! Later, certain questions arose which made me doubt the whole thing. Here's a latter-day variant, and I'll leave it up to you as to whether it is true or not: Supposedly there was an iron hulled ship, the Baychimo, that drifted with the Arctic ice for a ridiculously long time (like from the mid 1930's through the mid 1960's) without sinking OR being salvaged. Photographs of it HAVE appeared in books, but I tend to doubt the thirty-plus years of survival. Maybe a season or two, but thirty? Admitting a dark secret here: I still HAVE those old paperbacks (somewhere) and I'll dig them out next time I'm in close proximity to my parents attic and give further details. As I recall, the EXACT DATES were given in the Octavian/a/us story for those who would question its truthfulness. INGER: As you'll recall the tag line of the story was that the ship had last been seen near Greenland but was discovered near Alaska meaning that...gasp...a crew of dead men found the Northwest Passage! Admittedly, it would look good on a commemorative stamp.... JIM PS What's that about the Ouran Medan being a hoax? The story seemed SO reality-based. What next, the Ghost of Flight 401 a fraud as well?
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day, Michael

- It was hokey alright :) You'll find it in quite a few 'mystery of the sea' type books - one was lavishly illustrated with beautiful water colours that gave me nightmares...the frozen captain, still seated at his desk with a pen in hand, writing the last log entry...

The crew that found her supposedly went aboard and found all members frozen to death, most still in their bunks, including the Captain's wife and daughter. The kicker was, so the tale ran, that the ship was found on the other side of the passage - so she and her dead crew had found the way after all :) All good stuff for fireside yarns, but as you know these books are very rarely referenced in any shape or form. I imagine it's right up there with the story of Admiral Tryon's ghost - pure fiction.

:) What's that old phrase? 'Stranger things happen at sea'? There's always Rostron and the seaserpent (and Lights with his fish that had hands and feet ;-) )
 

Inger Sheil

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Hey there, James - posts crossed :)

Yeah, it killed me to learn about the Ouran Medan ;-) (did you know there's a bloke seriously tracking that story? He was working with the theory about transport of highly toxic chemicals being covered up - found some of the ships that allegedly answered her distress calls, but funnily enough no record of the ship herself :) )

I'm pinning my hopes on the U-boat ghost :) I know some people question it, but a girl has to cherish some dreams...
 
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Jason Bidwell

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For those interested here's a version of the Octavius yarn given by probably the most gifted writer who ever touched it, Evan Connell, in "A Long Desire," quoted verbatim from pages 160-61:

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On the morning of August 11, 1775, the "Herald," a whaler under the command of a Captain Warren, was just west of Greenland when the lookout reported a vessel ahead. At first the hull could not be seen, only her masts protruding above an iceberg, but when she drifted into view Captain Warren looked through his telescope. The vessel glistened with ice. There seemed to be nobody aboard.

Accompanied by four crew members, he pulled over in a longboat. They went aboard and found the entrance to the forecastle blocked by snow, but after this had been cleared away they were able to open the door. A musty stench poured out. In the forecastle 28 dead seamen were lying on their bunks, each man wrapped up as though he had tried to protect himself against the cold.

The same musty odor poured out of the master's cabin. They found the master slumped in a char with his hands resting on a table. A faint green mold obscured his features and veiled his eyes, but his body has not putrefied. The log was open, a quill pen beside it.

Captain Warren gave the log to one of his men and they entered the adjoining cabin. They discovered a woman lying in a bunk, covered with blankets, her head on her elbow as though she had been watching something when she died. A sailor with a flint in one hand and a piece of steel in the other was sitting cross-legged on the deck. Some wood shavings had been heaped together on the deck in front of him. Nearby lay the sailor's jacket. Under it was the body of a small boy.

Captain Warren inspected the galley, which had no provisions. He wanted to inspect the hold but his men refused and threatened to pull away in the longboat, so they returned to the "Herald" and watched the "Octavius" drift out of sight.

When Captain Warren asked for the logbook the sailor who had been carrying it handed over the binding and four pages. The book had come apart while the sailor was getting into the longboat and most of it had dropped into the water.

This log is now said to be in the archives of the London Registrar of Shipping. The first 2 pages list the ship's company, including the captain's wife and 10-year-old son, and disclose that the "Octavius" left England bound east on the China trade on September 10, 1761. The next page carries the earliest entries, mentioning fair weather, good headway, and sighting the Canary Islands. The last page contains what must have been the final entry. It is dated November 11, 1762, and obviously was written by a crewman. It gives an approximate position (Longitude 160 W., Latitude 75 N) and states that the ship has been inclosed by ice for 17 days. After noting that the master had unsuccessfully attempted to kindle a fire, the entry concludes: "The master's son died this morning and his wife says she no longer feels the terrible cold. The rest of us seem to have no relief from the agony."

Longitude 160 W., Latitude 75 N. is in the Arctic Ocean high above Point Barrow. The log's missing pages might have explained why the "Octavius" was so far north, but without them we can only speculate. On his return voyage, instead of charting a course around the Cape of Good Hope, the ship's captain must have yielded to some desperate urge. He must have thought he could accomplish what Frobisher and so many others had not, and be the first to navigate a northwest passage....
***
 

Inger Sheil

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Thanks for that, Jason! That's the story as I vaguely remember it. Should I be keeping a lookout for the log when I'm going through the BOT documents ;-)?