Tasmanian Seafarers' Memorial

SS Kawatiri (1907)

The plaque reads ...

SS KawatiriS.S. 'Kawatiri'
En route Hobart to Strahan hit bar at
Macquarie Harbour attempting to enter
Hell's Gates 13.08.1907 wrecked on
north spit with loss of 6 including
Assistant Lighthouse Keeper's family.
F.V. Luida sent to get ship's papers
was upset ~ A.Ware & O.Dale drowned

 

 

The Mercury newspaper reported the disaster on Monday 19 August 1907.

SALVING THE KAWATIRI.  

A BOATING DISASTER. TWO MEN DROWNED.

(By Telegraph.-Special Correspondents)
ZEEHAN, August 18.  

The first attempt at salving on the wrecked steamer Kawatiri was made this morning, and ended most disastrously in two men out of three being drowned through their boat getting amongst the breakers near the ship. Those unfortunate men were Oscar Dale, a Swede, aged 40, employed as assistant at Macquarie Heads, and Arthur Ware, aged about 38, a fisherman, residing at Strahan.

These two, with Charles Ware, a brother of Arthur's, all three expert boat- men, went off to the Kawatiri about 11 this morning. The weather was fine. Their object was to recover the mails and anything else of importance they could get from the ship.

They reached the vessel safely, and remained on her for some time. They then left, but when only about fifty yards from the ship their boat was swamped by a huge roller. They clung to the boat for some time, but could not got her out of the breakers, where she was being badly buffeted.

Charles Ware swam back to the Kawatiri, and climbed aboard, but the other two failed to reach the ship, and were drowned before his eyes.

Dale, who was a valued servant of the Marine Board, leaves a widow and two children, and Ware a widow and four children.

The deepest sympathy is expressed for the bereaved. It is particularly pathetic that Mrs. Dale, who showed such great kindness and attention to the shipwrecked passengers of the Kawatiri lost Tuesday night, should tonight be mourning the death of her husband, which she witnessed from the look-out station.

Captain W. Hake, pilot and harbour- master, states that about daylight this morning he rang up Signalman H. Miller at the look-out station to know how the sea was. Miller replied that there was no sea to speak of. Dale came on duty at 8 o'clock, and he (Captain Hake) asked him by telephone how the sea looked, and he replied, "It is all right." He then said, "What do you think about them going to the wreck?" and Dale replied, "It is good enough to go." Asked, "Are you sure" said he replied, "Yes, it is good enough." Arthur and Charlie Ware got ready to go with Dale, and again he (Captain Hake) asked if they thought it safe. The Wares, who, as fishermen, are well accustomed to the waters of the Heads, laughed at the question. The three then went off in a boat. Captain Hake watched them get safely alongside the Kawatiri, and they were on the vessel about an hour. They then left, and when they got a short distance from the ship a big roller came up and rolled right on the boat, and swamped her. All three men hung on to the boat, but after a time one swam back to the ship. Captain Hake sent out to Entrance Island to Lighthouse-keeper Oakes for assistance, and just then J. De Bruni, of Strahan, arrived with his boat. Captain Hake, E. O'Keefe, and De Bruni went out in this to render help, and brought Charlie Ware safely off the Kawatiri. They could not see the others. Captain Hake then sent a boat's crew, in charge of George Oakes, round to Cape Sorell boat shed, when they got a boat and searched around, without finding anything.

John De Bruni, whose boat relieved Charlie Ware, says there was a fair sea on, as it had freshened considerably since the first boat went off.

George H. Oakes says that to-day Oscar Dale, accompanied by two men, came in a boat for him to go to the wreck. Ho considered it was quite safe to go there, and volunteered to go with them. Dale said, "It does not matter : it is quite fine we shall be all   right." Dale further said that Captain.

Hake had instructed him to run no risks. Dale was a good all-round boat- man. There were three life-jackets in the boat they went off in. When they reached the ship they put Dale on board.

It was thought the bodies might have been washed ashore, but a search was unsuccessful.

THE SURVIVOR'S STORY. | Charles Ware, the survivor, states that the weather was calm enough when Dale, his brother Arthur, and himself left for the ship. He had been a number of years fishing about there, and had been out in the same weather. He did not consider there was any risk. They reached the ship safely, and after staying some time pulled away straight for the shore. Suddenly, seas broke over the stern of the boat. They all hold on to the boat for a time. They were only about fifty yards from the ship. He entreated the other two to swim for the wreck. Dale said, "I am done." He (Charles Ware) swam to the Kawatiri, and boarded her, and from there saw the others drown.

They did not save the Kawatiri's mails, but Dale had secured a bag containing the captain's papers.