There are other reasons for people to notice machinery sounds and vibrations beyond just increasing speed. These things become increasingly noticeable as other distractions disappear--distractions like the motion and noise of a ship in a seaway. On a calm day you hear lots of things you never notice when the going is rough. As we know, the sea conditions were becoming "oily calm" as the night wore on. That alone could account for some or all of the impressions of greater vibrations from the engines.
I do see your points David and accept you may well be correct.
However, I remain unconvinced. The conditions, although becoming 'Oily calm,' were never in the slightest rough previously, as far as I am aware.
The ships size too would have made the conditions even less noticeable, again as far as I am aware.
I guess we will never know.
John, I'm unconvinced that any one answer about the sensations of greater engine speed is correct. My intention is just to point out the importance in not forcing the evidence to fit a pre-made conclusion. Those sensations could have been from greater RPMs, or because the sea was getting calmer, or because as Jim suggests something vibrated loose. They could have come from a less skilled quartermaster over-steering and correcting. The engineers could have started up some seldom-used equipment, such as making a routine test of the bilge pumps. Or, they might have been natural harmonics of the ship which the witnesses noticed for the first time during the voyage because they finally walked into the right spot where the vibrations were noticeable. And, they could have been a bit of ex post facto memory embellishment that often accompanies eyewitness accounts of major events. We really do not have enough information to say with any level of certainty what caused those independent observations. What we know is that some non-technical people thought the ship was going faster that night...and that's good enough to raise any historian's curiosity. After all, the most probable answer to the mystery is the obvious--Titanic was going faster than ever.
Hi David, I totally agree with your point about not forcing the evidence to fit a pre-made conclusion. It was this which prompted me ask my original question.
I also fully see your other very well made points. I am not going to make a call on the speed of the ship though as I just do not feel I have found enough evidence.
>>After all, the most probable answer to the mystery is the obvious--Titanic was going faster than ever. <<
A possibility which I might point out is well supported by known navigational data and testimony. The ship was going faster then she had at any point in the voyage. In point of fact, she had been gradually working her way up to that all along.
The totality of evidence, not just some passenger perceptions, show that Titanic's speed was increased as late as 7 PM Sunday night. Those observations only support the other evidence that is available. And, if you believe what Ismay said, it was planned to increase her speed further on Monday or Tuesday for brief trial period once those 5 auxiliary boilers were put on line.
The increase in speed took place despite warnings of ice ahead. It was all part of the plan of working her up. The presence of ice ahead was not going to change how the ship was navigated unless forced to do so. Smith was determine to stay the course and speed until a clear and present danger was actually seen, whether that be ice or a deterioration in seeing conditions. Smith thought that they would have sufficient warning to avoid any serious incident. He and others that followed that practice were proven wrong. The view was probably best expressed by Ismay himself when he testified:
“I see no reason why a Commander should not go full speed in the ice region as long as he can see sufficiently far ahead of him to enable him to clear any object which he may encounter.”
— J. Bruce Ismay, at the Limitation of Liability Hearings in New York, June 1914.
Despite the Titanic disaster, he still held to that belief 2 years after that fateful event.