Boxhall's reworking of the CQD position

Jim Currie

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Here's another "trauma" for you, Sam

In your article " They Were Gradually Working Her Up". you observe:
"Taking an average between 75 and 76 rpm from 12 noon up until 11:40 p.m., we get an average speed of 22.3 knots through the water, a result which happens to match very well with the taffrail log reading of 260 nautical miles through the water observed by QM George Rowe at the time the accident happened.

Let's use that same taffrail log again.

First: As you know, I believe that Boxhalls's distress position error was simply one of using too much runtime and combining it with the wrong speed. But how did he calculate the runtime? Here's what I think.

When he entered the chartroom, he saw the notation..."11-46...struck iceberg...All stop." He knew that a clock change was due at midnight. However, since Moody and Pitman were on the boat deck he would not know if the partial or full one had been allowed for in the 11-46 time recorded. My contention is that Boxhall made the mistake of assuming the time recorded was either fully retarded or unaltered time when in fact, it was partially retarded time. He therefore either duplicated an allowance already made for a partial clock change or allowed for a full clock change and converted that time to what he thought was the equivalent GMT then applies the result to the GMT for 7-30 pm sights. I use GMT throughout.
Time of Stop/impact...11-46 pm....3-31 am GMT
Time of sights..............................10-36 pm GMT
Runtime ...................................... 4rs - 55 minutes.
4 hours 55 minutes at 22 knots = distance steamed 108.2 miles.
Now we use the Patent Log.

When at 49-56 West, the patent Log read 260 miles. If Titanic had reached 50-13 west, it would have read 272.6 miles. This means that at 10-58 pm GMT. (8 pm ship time), 4 hours 33 minutes earlier, it should, according to Boxhall, have been reading 272.6 minus 100.1 miles run = 172.5 miles. But what was it reading at 8 pm?
Titanic was making 22.5 knots during that period, so she would have covered a distance of 102,4 miles since 8 pm...2.1 miles more. So instead of 172.5 miles; it follows that at 8 pm the log would have been reading 170.1 miles.
170.1 subtracted from the Impact time patent log reading of 260 miles suggests that at 8 pm, Titanic had another 89.9 miles left to run until impact. At 22.5 knots this would take her almost exactly 4 hours...until the unaltered clock read 12 o'clock Midnight.
What was it Colonel Gracies said?
" I was awakened in my stateroom at 12 o'clock. The time, 12 o'clock, was noted on my watch, which was on my dresser, which I looked at promptly when I got up. At the same time, almost instantly, I heard the blowing off of steam, and the ship's machinery seemed to stop."
We can test this. by runnin back from the true impact positon for 4 hours at 22.5 knots.

Then there is the effort made by Captain Smith. Let's use the same thought process.

If the Patent Log read 170.1 at 8 pm and Smith's DR for 8 pm was 20 miles too far ahead, the Patent Log reading for 20 miles ahead would have been 190.1 miles
If the Patent log read 260 miles at 49-56'W at impact, then at 50-24'W it would have read 280.9. This would Give Smith a distance run of 90.8 miles between his 8 pm DR and the place where he reckoned Titanic had stopped.
He would have made allowance for westward drift, so let's say he used full speed distance of 90 miles. If he did then if he used a runtime of 3 hours 40 minutes as you believe he did, then Titanic would have made 24.6 knots. However, if he used a 4 hour run time, then she would have averaged exactly 22.5 knots.

In rest my case.

 
Mar 22, 2003
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Boxhall said that he used a course of 266 True to work his CQD position.
He also said he determined that by taking stellar sights to determine compass deviation. That was after he worked the 7:30pm position. It had nothing to do with any DR position taken beforehand. You asked me what I would consider to be a significant overshoot of the corner. I said about 10 miles. I wouldn't consider 4 miles 'significant'. And that overshoot, if Boxhall is to be believed (which is another story), put the vessel not just south of the corner, but south and to the west of the corner. That is what he said. Pitman said essentially the same thing, only he quantified it all by stating the vessel should have turned about 5 o'clock. Of course, that was not the story that was told weeks earlier at the American inquiry. It's all tied to that erroneous SOS position that Boxhall worked out. They got the position wrong and they got the time wrong.
 

Jim Currie

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Read the evidence again, Sam. Boxhall used his 7-38 pm fix position and the same course for azimuth observations (compass error) after he had reported the 7-38 pm position to the captain and that was some time after 9 pm. probably nearer to 10 pm.
The Course Board showed 264.5 True but Boxhall used 266 True. He said he assumed that the Captain had made a course allowance to the right to bring the ship back onto the prescribed course line after the turn.
The only way he could have assumed that and known it's effectiveness was by measuring the course being made good was between the 2 known positions...at 5-50 pm and at 7-38 pm.
Not only that, but if the ship had been more than 4 miles to the south and west of The Corner, the course compensation to the right would have been proportionately greater... 268 True or even more.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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The Course Board showed 264.5 True
The course board showed the standard compass course and the steering compass course.
The only way he could have assumed that and known it's effectiveness was by measuring the course being made good was between the 2 known positions.
The course made good is obtained between two fixes. You cannot use a DR and a fix. Navigation 101. Perhaps Boxhall needed to go back to nav school if he did such a thing.
Perhaps you should also take your own advise and go back to the evidence. Boxall said, "I was taking star bearings for compass error for myself, and was working those out." That was after he worked up the 7:30 position. He wanted to check on the deviation. The standard compass course is what they went by. The variation was known if he had his position, which he had from the 7:30 fix. To find the ship's true course he needed to know the deviation error accurately. That's why he was checking the deviation error by taking star bearings at the standard compass. He knew what the course was called for. He knew the variation for the location they were at. Once an accurate measure of deviation was obtained, or confirmed, he would know the exact magnetic course being steered, and then subtracting the variation, he would get the true course, which he later got and which indicated that they making S86W true, 266°T.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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When it comes down to it all, it is all pure speculation. What is certain is that Smith and Boxhall got it wrong that night, anc luckily for the survivors, Carpathia found them while headed for the wrong place.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Spot on Sam. And if Carpathia had not seen the lifeboats, what was the chance of Californian finding them to?
 

Mike Spooner

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Jim,
no knowledge of the north-south ice barrier ahead of him.
So why did Lord put on extra lookout men?
 

Jim Currie

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You are being too pedantic, Sam.

When crossing the Atlantic or any other vast stretch of ocean (which I have done many times), you had to keep up your DRs because quite often you might only get the opportunity for sights 2 or three times during the entire trip across.
Apart from any other reason, it was therefore essential that you had a very good idea of the True Course you were making good. Because that was the only course which would give you a fairly accurate DR and a fairly accurate position to which potential rescuers would come to if needed. That meant that you either used the True Course chalked on the Course Board, the calculated course between a Fix and a DR or between the last DR and a Fix or between 2 DRs. In the last case, it was essential that you allowed for influence due to the elements...mainly Leeway and Drift.
The information chalked on the Course Board was not for the exclusive use of the Helmsman. In fact, it was for use of the OOW. I can show you a pic of one of mine if you wish?
Anyway, how do you know what was chalked on Titanic's board?

You obviously do not know very much about Azimuths.

Titanic was swung for Deviation before she left Belfast. At that time, the Compass Adjuster would swing her through the 32 points of the compass, noting the deviation error each time and moving the magnets in the binnacle and the quadrantal spheres to smooth them out as far as was possible.
During that time, the Adjuster would create a Deviation Card. This would be retained on board and used by the Navigators.
In fact, with Titanic (or any other vessel) on a constant heading, the Magnetic Deviation for that heading would not change until the heading was changed appreciably. Only the Magnetic Variation would decrease as the ship progressed westward.
When bearings of a celestial body or objects in line were taken, the True bearing was calculated and compared with the bearing according to the compass used. The result was the error of that compass. The Local Magnetic Variation would be applied to that error to check the Deviation. This was then checked with the Deviation Card. No big deal and in fact, a waste of time in most cases. In the case of Titanic, the Magnetic Variation was changing by about half a degree every 6 hours or so.

Boxhall did not leave the chatroom much before 10 pm and said so:
" I was inside the chart room working up stellar observations from 8 o'clock.
I finished before 10 o'clock, because I gave Mr. Lightoller the results when I finished..After I had worked these observations of Mr. Lightoller's I was taking star bearings for compass error for myself, and was working those out..
I had used that same position two or three times after giving it to the Captain, and that same course I used two or three times after giving it to the Captain as well, between 10 o'clock and the time of the collision, for the purpose of working up stellar deviations."

How long do you think it would have taken for Boxhall to work 4 or probably 5 sextant observations? How long do you think it took to calculate even a single observation? I can tell you now, without fear of contradiction: he would not have left that chartroom until he was ready to, present his findings to the Senior Officer of The Watch and that would not have been before 9-30 pm.

But blowing your smoke away and returning to the problem on hand. Please explain why it is that the "numbers" I drew your attention to do not illustrate very clearly where Boxhall went wrong?

Incidentally. if I am correct, Titanic made good a True course of S 85.45 West between 7-30 pm sights and when she hit the iceberg.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Anyway, how do you know what was chalked on Titanic's board?
Lightoller: "The standard course is on a board and the steering compass course is also on a board. Therefore, the quartermaster uses the board that is there for the steering compass. The senior officer of the watch looks to the standard compass board and passes that course along."
 

Jim Currie

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When it comes down to it all, it is all pure speculation. What is certain is that Smith and Boxhall got it wrong that night, and luckily for the survivors, Carpathia found them while headed for the wrong place.
So why did Carpathia find them in the right place if she was heading for the wrong one despite having to battle a south-setting current acting on her starboard side?
Ideas on the Boxhal dilemma may be speculation on your part or on the part of those who jump to conclusions and fail to properly and fully evaluate the available evidence, Sam. However, consider the following:

When Captain Smith worked his Noon position, he also worked out the number of minutes the ship's clocks were to be adjusted that night of April 14/15....47minutes.
This number of minutes of clock change would tell Boxhall where his captain expected the ship to be at Noon the following day- April 15. They would tell Boxhall that his captain expected his ship to cover a distance of 415 miles between The Corner and Noon, April 15 ... to average a speed of about 22 knots during that time and to be at 50-11'W at Log Book Midnight. April 14. Four minutes after that, at 12-04am, she would be at 50-13'West. Drifting on for a mile would put her at 5-14'West.
Where was she according to Boxhall? Is there any wonder that he thought his work was perfect?
Jim,
no knowledge of the north-south ice barrier ahead of him.
So why did Lord put on extra lookout men?
For at least 3 reasons, Mike,
1: That the ice warnings he got were for ice at latitude 42 North and Californian was following a westerly of latitude course which was 5 miles to the north of latitude 42 North
2. He knew that sea ice normally moved eastward and slightly northward in that area.
3. That he had never been so far north at that time of year...the ice season.
 

Paul Lee

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Hi all,
I'm hoping that someone can help me! I recall reading in one Titanic book that, at the British Enquiry, Boxhall said that he worked out the CQD position (41 44 50 24), started firing rockets and then reworked the position to the now famous 41,46/50,14. I have read the transcripts on the Titanic Enquiry project webpage but I can't find any mention of this. Did it happen?

Best wishes

Paul
 

Jamie Bryant

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I doubt it did happen as they had already sent numerous CQD messages giving their original position, and the fact that he had hours to live. Although, like Wilde, not many know about Boxhall's movements on the ship that night until about 2:00am, so there is a possibility, at which time it would have been pointless.
 

Mike Spooner

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Jim,
We had 3 captains to take on the same icefield. Smith, Rostron and Lord. Smith the most experience Lord had no experience. Yet it was Lord and Rostron who took all the correct action to protection their ship becoming damage from the ice by putting on extra lookouts.
Smith should of done the same and reduce the speed. It is not been wise after the event. I am sorry to say it was down to common sense like the other two captains with less experience of ice condition did like wise. Smith knew he was approaching ice. The only possible defence I have for Smith was first officer Murdoch when came on duty at 10.00pm. Smith last word with second officer Lightoller before leaving the bridge about 9.30pm. If it becomes at all doubtful, let me know at once. I will be just inside. Further talk with lookout men Fleet and Lee keep your eyes skinned for growlers. To me this a clear evident they knew coming into an ice patch area. Now whether Lightroller had past on that message to Murdoch. If it becomes at all doubtful, let me know at once. Could be questionable and if hadn't knowing that Murdoch died, I would certainty defend myself by saying I did so! But there is a change in the weather were a mist or haze has came up. Murdoch been a very experience officer should still informed Smith at once.
Now Jim seeing you were a captain yourself. I have a question for you? If you have given an order of a ship speed like the Titanic of 22 knots. Is it a wise thing for an officer on duty to override a captain order and reduce the speed to what he thinks is a more safer speed?
 

Paul Lee

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Well, when the CQD position was sent out, it said 41/44, 50/24...about ten minutes later it changed. Maybe a slip of the wireless operator's hand, but then again I am sure that Boxhall said that he reworked it....
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Hi Paul,

According to my copy of the book "Report On The Loss Of The S.S. Titanic" from the British Enquiry, this is what occurred:

At approximately 12:15 am..."Mount Temple" heard Titanic sending C.Q.D. Says require assistance. Gives position. Cannot hear me. Advise my Captain his position 41.46 N. 50.24 W.

At approximately 12:15 am...Cape Race hears "Titanic" giving position on C.Q.D. 41.44 N. 50.24 W.

At about 12:18 am..."Ypiranga" hears C.Q.D. from "Titanic". "Titanic" gives C.Q.D. here. Position 41.44 N., 50.24 W. Require assistance (calls about 10 times).

At approximately 12:25 am...C.Q.D. call received from "Titanic" by "Carpathia." "Titanic" said "Come at once. We have struck a berg. It's a C.Q.D. O.M. Position 41.46.N. 50.14 W."

At about the same time Cape Race hears M.G.Y. ("Titanic") give corrected position 41.46 N. 50.14 W. Calling him, no answer.

At approximately 12:26 am...M.G.Y. ("Titanic") says C.Q.D. Here corrected position 41.46 N., 50.14 W. Require immediate assistance. We have collision with iceberg. Sinking. Can nothing hear (?) for noise of steam. Sent about 15 to 20 times to "Ypiranga."

I'm also unable to locate in his testimony where he says he changed the position, but I recall reading it as well.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,

Jason
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Dec 4, 2000
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There is a story told by not just the two CQD positions, but also the location of the wreck.

Boxhall apparently worked out the second position. Nobody has been given credit for the first, but only Captain Smith could have done it. Boxhall was off the bridge and Smith had been doing some sort of navigation just prior to the accident.

The second position is almost exactly 20 minutes of steaming at 22 knots east of the first. And, it is 2 miles north of the first. Both differences have independent significances.

Twenty minutes is pretty close to the difference between 11:40 p.m. and midnight. It would appear that somebody thought the first CQD coordinates were not for the ship's 11:40 location, but for the projected midnight position. By retracting the longitude this "error" would have been corrected.

The 2 miles of northing are a different story. Here we have proof of a sort that Titanic did steam north after the accident. Given the fact that Boxhall was running around the bow, he probably did not have access to the ship's exact speed nor the time it steamed afterward. So, he would have had to form an educated guess. My supposition is that he took 12 minutes of steaming (12 = 2/10ths of an hour) at a speed of 10 knots (a bit more than bare steerageway). By simple multiplication, he got 2 miles of distance: 0.2 x 10 = 2.

The story told by the difference between the first CQD position and the location of the wreck is more complicated. It hides the reason why an iceberg got in front of Titanic in the first place. That's part of the manuscript which I am trying to sell to a publisher, so I have to keep "mum" on this subject.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Dec 4, 2000
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Jason - I didn't say for certain that Captain Smith worked out the first CQD position. I just said that nobody else appears to have been able to have done the work and taken it to the wireless office. And, Smith was doing navigation that night per Boxhall's testimony. I think it is a reasonable assumption to say that Smith did the first coordinates, but it is not proven.

-- David G. Brown
 

Jim Currie

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Lightoller: "The standard course is on a board and the steering compass course is also on a board. Therefore, the quartermaster uses the board that is there for the steering compass. The senior officer of the watch looks to the standard compass board and passes that course along."
What else do you think was on that board, Sam?

While you think of an answer to that, why don't you address the subject of this thread?