Any possible mean for warming the water


We all know that the freezing water was the reason for such a catastrophic death toll that night, but could it be possible to spare some lives by increasing the water temperature? (for instance by heating water in the boilers and throwing it over board or setting the ship on fire...)
I took this idea by a FALSE account of the sinking on a book called "The last mysteries of the world" which stated that the boilers exploded making the water boil and burning seriously several swimmers.
 

Adam Went

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Augusto, that might have worked if the Titanic sank in a swimming pool, but it just wouldn't have been an effective method in the middle of the North Atlantic.

With the temperature of the water that night, any boiling water thrown overboard would have become just as cold almost instantly. And setting the ship on fire might have provided some warmth for the surrounds, but there was also still 1,500 people on board the ship who either would have had to jump into the water a lot earlier, or get burned alive.

So it's not really possible. The best thing that they could, and should have done, was to administer as much brandy and whiskey as possible to the passengers, to insulate them from the freezing cold as Charles Joughin did, and also to throw as much of the buoyant material overboard in preparation for when the ship went under, effectively giving swimmers some form of rafts or objects to float on instead of being completely subjected to the water.

The simple fact is that nobody on board that night, crew or passenger, were fully prepared in this way for the eventuality of the sinking.
 

Adam Went

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Augusto:

Well, it worked for Charles Joughin. While hundreds of others died around him, he survived, because he had been drinking and that insulated him against the cold of the ocean.

If it worked for him, why not others? It certainly couldn't do any harm.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Well, something worked for Charles Joughin. But it makes no sense to conclude a cause-affect relationship between his (moderate) drinking and his survival. Alcohol cannot and does not generate warmth or insulation. It causes dilation of the blood vessels beneath the skin which allows body heat to reach the surface more easily. So you feel warmer but you're actually losing heat more quickly, and in freezing water that's something you can't afford to do. Joughin might have had some benefit from the slightly reduced stress levels which would have resulted from having a few drinks, but basically he survived despite the booze, not because of it. Back in 1912 the idea of 'insulation' from a bottle was quite widely believed, but medical science has moved on a bit since then.
 

Adam Went

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There has to be something besides that, Bob. Joughin never got into a boat until the Carpathia had almost arrived - even when he made it to Collapsible B, there was not enough room on board, and so he had to continue floating in the ocean beside it.

I don't think that there was another single survivor who managed to stay in the water for that long and survive?

So either Joughin was some kind of superhuman, or the alcohol acted as some sort of insulation from the cold. The fact that Joughin was one of the last off the ship and when he stepped into the water, he "didn't even get his head wet", might have helped as well.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Joughin wasn't floating in the water alongside the boat - that's just the Pinewood version. In his own testimony he makes it clear that he was able to draw the upper part of his body up onto the boat, and that made a helluva difference. And bearing in mind the condition of collapsibles A and B he certainly wasn't the only survivor who had spent several hours partly immersed in water.

As for alcohol in the bloodstream acting as an 'insulator' - forget it. Or tell us by what physical means it could possibly have such an effect. The outer tissues of your body do act as an insulator, but their effectiveness as such is much reduced by the effect of alcohol in the bloodstream, for the reason already stated. Common sense tells us that we feel warmer after a few drinks, but what you can feel is your body heat passing through and out into the air - or the Atlantic Ocean, as the case might be.
 

Adam Went

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Bob:

You might want to check your facts.
It was not until 4 AM that Joughin made it to Collapsible B. By that time, he had already been in the freezing water for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Joughin could not climb on board because there was already too many people and the boat was in danger of sinking, but his friend from the kitchen John Maynard held onto his hand to help him, while Joughin continued to tread water.

That comes from the testimony of Joughin himself.

Now I'm not a scientist, but there must have been something which was insulating Joughin against the cold that night for him to survive that long and go largely unscathed, and alcohol is the only possible answer to this. That combined with the fact that when he stepped off the ship, he didn't get his head wet, which would have helped.
 
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Joughin's testimony begins at http://www.titanicinquiry.org/BOTInq/BOTInq06Joughin01.php

While he says it was daylight when he got onto a collapsible, (See question 6078) he's not really specific as to the time.

If any part of his account was true, then his survival is certainly not due to the excessive consumption of alcohol. Human physiology is what it is, and alcohol is a vasco-dialator which speeds up heat loss.
 
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I've always thought Joughin's subcutaneous insulation may've assisted, that and he wasn't fully immersed for as long as he thought he was. I've also meant to check on what he was wearing too, as layering would've helped - given that an immersion suit wasn't an option. Alcohol does not insulate at all.

But, back to the original question: any possible means of warming the water? Why yes: an active volcano. But that would've required Titanic to be somewhere completely different such as the South Pacific, and also brings a completely different set of issues regarding survival (including sharks). Or perhaps immediately off the coast of Iceland at the right moment.
 
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>>I've always thought Joughin's subcutaneous insulation may've assisted<<

Perhaps. He wasn't exactly a lightweight. In his own testimony, he only acknowladges having half a tumbler of spirits. Hardly enough to support the legend that he got smashed!
 

Adam Went

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Joughin did have a pocket watch with him when he entered the water - no doubt this would have stopped working once it was subjected to the water, but we know from that that Joughin would have had a rough idea of the time.

And I'd suggest that in early spring, it wouldn't be getting daylight at 3 AM....

Fiona: Something like an underwater warm spring, perhaps? They are around - just unfortunately not where the Titanic sank!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Adam: Ideally yes, we should all get our facts straight. But where are the facts concerning Joughin's experience? We're dealing there with likelihoods and probabilities rather than undisputed fact. We have his testimony, but much of that calls for interpretation and certainly an allowance for the possibility that he greatly over-estimated his time in the water - as did just about everyone else in that situation (the clock moves slowly when we're not having a good time!)

Maynard did hold onto Joughin for an extended period before he was able to get fully aboard, but would that have been possible with one man on the centreline of the upturned boat (as Lightoller required) and the other floating freely alongside the boat rather than with his upper body on the boat? When questioned, Joughin stated quite clearly that his legs were immersed at that time, not that he was up to his shoulders in water. If you really believe that the man was almost fully immersed in freezing water for nearly two hours with no apparent ill effect then you have to believe that he was something other than human. I can't go along with that.
 

Adam Went

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Bob:

No matter which way you slice it, Joughin spent far longer immersed in freezing water than any of the other survivors that night, and seemed to have few ill effects from it as well.

Perhaps when Maynard was holding onto him, he was down on all fours and leaning over the edge of the boat? Or was in a sort of crouched position? It's hard to say, but we do know that Joughin spent a long time either completely or partially in the freezing water. By his own testimony, he was there until it started to get daylight. So he must have spent, at the very least, 1 hour and 30 minutes in the water, for that to be the case.

Either way, either somebody upstairs was looking after him that night, or there was a secret to his survival that nobody else in the water was fortunate enough to have....
 

Bob Godfrey

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Was Joughin really the only one to have spent so long at least partly in the water? Consider the experience of those in Collapsible A, which was not only full of water but was repeatedly capsized, each time throwing its occupants back into the sea. But there were survivors from that boat. Joughin might well have been the ultimate survivor, but there wasn't a huge difference between his experience and theirs, especially if he managed to get his upper body out of the water quite early on, as his own testimony suggests.
 
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Joughin claimed that it was just breaking daylight when he first saw the overturned boat B with Lightoller and the other men on top of it. At the location of the wreck site, astronomical twilight began about 4 a.m. Titanic time, which means the sky would first start to lighten a bit in the east. It would be about 4:30 when the horizon could be seen all around, and about 5 a.m. when civil twilight began. Sunrise was at 5:38 a.m. Titanic time. Joughin was floating in the water at 2:20 a.m. If he first got over to the collapsible boat when he said he did, then he would have been floating without any support other than his lifebelt for about 90 minutes.

By the way, the Carpathia came up near Boxhall's boat, the first to be picked up, about 4 a.m.
 

Jim Currie

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There is actually a way to get a little warmth when immersed in cold water. Loosely termed the huddle technique, it consists of a number of people staying together in a huddle - forming a very close ring. One at a time, a member of the 'ring' gets into the middle and the rest huddle close to that person. In that way, body heat is shared.
Unfortunately a wet body looses heat quicker than a dry one.
The worse thing you can do is to swim about - it uses up precious energy and you will tire very quickly.
The typical change in core or deep body temperature for an average individual fully clothed and immersed in salt water at a temperature of 50F (10C) is as follows:

Body temp at start.. 98.4F.. body enters cold water - shock causes panic and incapacitation.
during first hour, the pulse rate quietens but the shivering starts.
At one hour, the core temperature is down a degree. You now feel very cold and shiver like heck. Your hands become useless.
After 2 hours, your body temperature falls to about 94F. If there's no sign of help, you start to loose interest. You have problems with your breathing.
Between 2 and 4 hours, you are in danger of death from drowning - you get amnesia, your heart beat becomes irregular, your arms and legs get stiff and you may lose consciousness.
The danger point - the point where the chance of revival is very slim comes just after 3.5 hours for an average person. Hypothermia will set in rapidly, resulting in death.

The foregoing is from human physiology notes I took during survival training - what we termed 'water sports'. Actually Joughin did exactly what modern knowledge predicts. In fact, he had an even better chance. One of the most important things effecting survival under such conditions is the will to live. Joughlin had the comfort of knowing others were nearby therefore he always had a chance to survive. What the facts point to is a higher sea temperature.

Much has been placed on the evidence of the sea temperature found at the time. Sea temperature was taken at regular intervals for weather forecasting purposes- not to indicate the presence of ice. The method of taking it was to lower a canvas bucket into the sea forward of all over board discharges and just fill it with surface water. it was then hoisted quickly on deck. The thermometer was then placed in the water and stirred round while being read. The big mistake made by many mariners was to lift the thermometer out of the bucket to read it thus getting the air rather than the sea temperature.

Historically, the surface temperature in the area during January averages about 40 to 50 F. In April it can get as high as 60F. Any freezing water was probably from nearby ice and would only be a few inches on the surface. The freezing temperature was that of the air - not the water.

What is indisputable is that at a sea temperature of 32F, a human being wearing ordinary clothing will not be alive after an hour.

I suggest that the survival time of Jouglin is a good indication as to what the sea temperature just below the surface really was!
 

Bob Godfrey

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In view of what you've said, Jim, it's notable that Joughin remarked that he felt colder once he'd got out of the water than he had while floating!
 

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