Booze in the lifeboats


Scott Holiday

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Was rum or whiskey part of the mandated provisions for each lifeboat? Seems like a good way to keep out the cold since these were open boats, also calm everyone's nerves, etc.

Probably some of the passengers & officers had personal flasks and such anyway.
 
Oct 8, 2011
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The lifeboats weren't specifically supplied with alcohol, but you'll no doubt hear many stories of people like Chief Baker Joughin bringing and drinking their own whiskey and such.

And a few other passengers brought their own alcohol as well (I can't quite remember their names now), but White Star Line didn't put alcohol into these boats. And drinking alcohol doesn't necesarily keep you warm in the boats. It actually increases heat loss.

You may want to read more about Joughin's survival here:
 

Scott Holiday

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Ah I remember Joughin from ANTR- he went to his room and got plastered from his "personal stash"- good for him!

Weren't all the officers alloted a certain amount of free booze per trip from WSL? I remember in ANTR when Lights is making the rounds the passengers ask him to join them for a drink and he says "perhaps a bit later." So I guess rich passengers would stand them to a round now and then as well. Also the doctor brought T. Andrews a cocktail and practically forced him to drink it.

The quality of the water aboard ship was probably quite poor since they didn't have modern filters and such like we do, and of course no desalination like on QM2 and modern ships. So booze was actually the only option.
 

Dave Gittins

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Alcohol was not required in the lifeboats. Some seems to have found its way on board in private or "acquired" bottles. At least one bottle was thrown overboard by Quartermaster Perkis.

In theory Titanic was a dry ship and the crew were not supposed to drink at sea. In practice, people like Joughin managed to get a bit. The officers were not supposed to socialise with passengers, but maybe the rules were bent a bit.

Titanic actually had oodles of distilled water, as required by Board of Trade regulations. With all those boilers it was not hard to arrange. Modern ships use osmosis to get fresh water.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Ah I remember Joughin from ANTR- he went to his room and got plastered from his "personal stash"- good for him!<<

Trouble is, not only is there no credible evidence that this happened in the real waking world, it was something that Jonghin specifically denied.

Sometimes what was in the flasks which some passengers brought aboard the boats wasn't alcohol at all. At least one account is extant...reported in ANTR...that one passenger offered somebody a "snort" from a flask which turned out to be essence of peppermint!

If true, that must have been an unpleasant to say nothing of a literally breathtaking surprise!
 

Scott Holiday

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The officers were not supposed to socialise with passengers, but maybe the rules were bent a bit.
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Well if you consider EJ Smith an "officer" they were bent quite more than a "bit," as the Millionaire's Captain seemed to spend most of his time holding forth in the dining room/cocktail lounge and charming everyone with his old stories from the pirate days and such. Hard to believe he didn't enjoy a few cocktails after dinner along with his trademark stogies.

I can see how he'd not want the other officers doing so, however, since they had to do all the grunt work like drive the tub and read compasses, look at maps etc. Also he wouldn't want the "competition" from other charmers like Lights who probably had even better stories than him. Who's to say the millionaries wouldn't have liked Lights better and "put in a word" that they preferred he take charge if he was more colorful a guy with his gold rush/cowboy yarns and all?

Probably that's why Smith busted him to 2nd officer and went with someone boring like Wilde to be his understudy.
 

Adam Went

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Perhaps amongst some of the crew that knew the ship was going down there was an attitude of "well we might as well make use of the supplies that are still on board! Better here than on the bottom of the Atlantic!" ;-)

I think it's fair to say that none of the passengers or crew got hammered but some of them would have had a little to drink, yes.

And i'm still not sure about Joughin - as I found out first hand yesterday, diving into a cold river gave me the shivers a heck of a lot quicker than having a shot of something strong did!

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Well if you consider EJ Smith an "officer" they were bent quite more than a "bit," as the Millionaire's Captain seemed to spend most of his time holding forth in the dining room/cocktail lounge and charming everyone with his old stories from the pirate days and such. Hard to believe he didn't enjoy a few cocktails after dinner along with his trademark stogies.<<

Oddly enough, the Captains of the crack express liners were expected to socialize at least on some levels. Some embraced this and others were known to absolutely hate it and did so only if they really had to. On the matter of Captain Smith drinking, I'm not aware of any credible evidence that he did so while on duty and the skipper is on duty 24/7 when the ship is underway. He may have but speculation is a very long way and a very different animal from "proven fact."

He was, however, known to enjoy cigars!

>>...diving into a cold river gave me the shivers a heck of a lot quicker than having a shot of something strong did!<<

The physiological effects of alcohol are such that this is what you would expect. Vasco-dilation of the capillaries would give you a nice warm feeling, even in an icebath, but at the price of losing body heat a lot more quickly then you would otherwise.
 

Dave Gittins

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I don't have the full White Star standing orders, but I do have the articles signed by the crew and the formal letter given to all captains on appointment.

Bringing liquor on board was forbidden. The fine for doing so was five shillings. The fine for being drunk was five shillings for the first offence and ten shillings for repeat offences.

The captains were ordered, "The most rigid discipline on the part of your Officers must be observed, and you will require them to avoid at all times convivial intercourse with passengers or each other."

We can see from the evidence of Joughin and others that the rules were bent at times.
 

Adam Went

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Michael:

Indeed, and aside from that, the circumstances under which I was in the water were almost as vastly different as they could possibly be than it was for the Titanic passengers who found themselves in the water. Nonetheless, one rule does not apply to everybody, every individual is different.

In short, yes indeed there were rules, but understandably they could be and were bent, particularly in extreme circumstances.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Oct 8, 2011
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>>Probably that's why Smith busted him to 2nd officer and went with someone boring like Wilde to be his understudy.<<

I wouldn't exactly consider Wilde a boring person. Probably not as interesting a life as Lightoller's (ship sinkings, gold mining, cowboy), but not by any means "boring".

And why do you use "tub" as a sort of synonym for ship? I've never heard it before
 

Scott Holiday

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Actually if you listen to the 1936 BBC interview with Lightoller (presuming that's his actual voice and not an actor reading excerpts from his book), he is kind of boring in a "grandpa, old geezer" sort of way.

Of course he was already a very old man by then, he may have been spunkier in Titanic's day. Also funny he has no British accent- you just assume he'll sound like Ken Moore from ANTR, you know, all "clipped" and proper like those BBC yakkers.

Anyone know of any voice recordings of Lights besides the aforementioned BBC interview? I heard there are some of those Edison cylinder things of Capt Smith singing old pub tunes that he made for his daughter to listen to whilst he was at sea, but haven't been able to find MP3 of them or on fileshare sites?
 

Adam Went

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Were any of the senior officers on board the Titanic known to be particularly entertaining? I would have thought that wasn't a particularly large part of their job description.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Nonetheless, one rule does not apply to everybody, every individual is different.<<

With alcohol, it does. The issue of the blood vessels dialating just doesn't go away. What can be different is just how much heat can be retained through other factors such as extra clothing and extra body fat.

While Joughin was far from being the most enormous guy in the world, he wasn't exactly a lightweight either. This would have been an instance where excess body fat would have been an advantage. Perhaps a lifesaving one. All things considered, it didn't hurt!
 

Jim Currie

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NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
Good morning!

As one who has served on a Titanic type British Passenger ship of pre WW2 design, I think I might be able to shed a little light on this faintly amusing thread.

First: when a British ship was in port, the ship's 'Bond' was sealed by the Customs. No booze or tobacco could be sold from it. When the ship cleared territorial waters the Bond was opened for a short period and crew members could purchase items from it. The cost of these items was debited against the individual's pay slip. It was not possible for ratings to buy booze but officers were allowed to buy a 'docking bottle' just before the ship arrived in port.
In some ships, a daily 'tot' of rum was issued free to the rating. It was issued in a tot glass and had to be consumed in front of the person issuing it.

There were instances where alcoholic seamen would smuggle bottles on board but if a person turned-to with a smell of drink on his breath or was otherwise caught drunk, it was a very serious offence which might end up with imprisonment and at least loss of livelyhood.
Apart from the foregoing; a merchant ship had a much smaller deck crew than a warship... everyone depended on his mate to be there and able to uphold his end of the work. Inability to pull ones weight was unforgiveable. Often the individual in question ended up with a 'sore face'during a run ashore at the next port.

During the voyage,junior navigating officers below the rank of 1st officer seldome if ever officialy mixed with the passengers. On the other hand, the Captain and heads of other departments on a passenger ship had a social role to perform.. particularly with regards to VIPs. In many cases, each had an entertaining fund for which they were accountable to the Company.

Now Lightoller:

"Of course he was already a very old man by then, he may have been spunkier in Titanic's day. Also funny he has no British accent-"
Charlie Lightoller was about 62 when that interview was given. Old geezer? Rubbish! The same 'old geezer' skippered a wee boat across the channel and took part in the Dunkirk evacuation 4 years later!
As for his accent: He was born in Chorley Lancashire. His accent in the BBC interview did not match any of the normal, predominant Lancashire Accents.. more sort of west-country-ish but was most certainly English! It is possible, that his accent became 'rounded' due to his mixing with many other seafarers from the age of 14. It happened to me. Born in Scotland, I now sound like a mix of Harry Lauder, Billy Connely and Harry Secome. Given his history before Titanic; Lightoller was not the most reliable person to be put in charge of a ship. Perhaps that's why he was never entrusted with the command of one? But back to the more intelligent aspects of this thread:"

Q:"Was rum or whiskey part of the mandated provisions for each lifeboat?
A: No.

Observation: "Seems like a good way to keep out the cold since these were open boats...."
A: No it was not!
Observation: "And a few other passengers brought their own alcohol as well"
A: True!
Observation: "Ah I remember Joughin from ANTR- he went to his room and got plastered from his "personal stash"- good for him"
A: Contrary to polular belief: Eric Ambler and Roy Ward Baker were not on board Titanic when she hit the iceberg!Neither was Kenneth Moore!

So refreshing to be an 'old geezer'!

JC
 

Scott Holiday

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62 is nowadays practically a spring chicken but in 1936 it would've been very old since the average person of that time only lived until their early 50s at best.

Also Boxhall and others were alive at the time ANTR was taped and helped direct the show, so it's basically akin to a documentary in that respect.

BTW my favourite scene is when Capt Smith gets the bad news from Andrews and, upon leaving Tom's cabin looks up at the sky for a moment as if silently asking God for help.

Much better than Cameron's nonsense with pretty boy handcuffed to a pipe and other rubbish. When I temped at the Posion Control Center we used a VHS copy of this flick to induce vomiting when stores of Syrup of Ipecac ran low.....
 
>> Also Boxhall and others were alive at the time ANTR was taped and
>> helped direct the show, so it's basically akin to a documentary in
>> that respect

They advised. Word Baker directed.

It's commonly referred as a docudrama, but that doesn't mean that it's 100% accurate. Liberties were taken for the sake of creating a cinematic experience for the audience...as with any Titanic film.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>62 is nowadays practically a spring chicken but in 1936 it would've been very old since the average person of that time only lived until their early 50s at best.<<

That's actually more then a bit misleading. Life expectancy was actually quite good if one survived to adulthood. What skewed the averages was the high infant and childhood mortality rate of the age.
 

Adam Went

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Michael:

We've had this alcohol/Joughin discussion several times before and got nowhere, clearly our views are varied on the matter so I see little to gain in continuing to flog the proverbial dead horse.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>We've had this alcohol/Joughin discussion several times before and got nowhere, clearly our views are varied on the matter so I see little to gain in continuing to flog the proverbial dead horse.<<

Dead horse or not, I'm going with the science which is well tested and equally well understood. As the late Richard Feynmen said, "It it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong. That's all there is to it."

Views are irrelevant to that core reality.
 

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