Distance to the Iceberg when sighted, and questions about the lookouts.


Georges Guay

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Feb 26, 2017
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There would be no need for any fancy engine use. The normal practice was to simply take the way off the vessel then go full astern until the wake started to spread out. You can actually see it doing so in the original photograph

You’re right Jim; «no need for any fancy engine use». Smith just had to kick out the pilot from the bridge a few minutes above Saint Helen’s pilot station, rudder cycling a little bit to get the stress down then from full ahead, order full vibrations astern. After a few 360° through eddies, the rowboat would be alongside in split seconds. The pilot just had to jump head first in the row boat as Smith had already ordered full steam ahead some more. Time to a Master was money too Jim.

The real danger at pilot station is for an inbound vessel under the command of a zombie captain who has been doing about nothing for weeks. The pilot has to «advice» him as to the embarkation leeward side, the heading to maintain, and the maximum speed at which to proceed. Ounce bouncing alongside, the pilot has to inspect the Jacob’s ladder to make sure is not manure rotten, make a prayer and jump on the ladder at 3.00am.

As in this present case, the pilot disembarkation for an outbound vessel was a totally different story as it was the pilot who had the conduct. He would order any fancy heading and engine settings he judged necessary to ascertain disembarkation as safe as possible, as his own life (and the ones on the rowing open boat) depended on it. He didn’t even have to ask the permission from his grandmother neither his nephew to execute the safer maneuver possible.

Once again, a veteran Sandy Hook ship pilot has died after falling during boarding an «inbound» containership in the Port of New York on Monday morning December 30, 2019.
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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I was driving my 4x4 yesterday in heavy snow shower, thinking of that Crow’s Nest Canvas. The light snowflakes were naturally driven by the airstream created by the generated wind. At low speed, the snowflakes were deflected upward by the front end, flying over the hood but falling and melting on the windshield. At higher speed, the airstream was driving the flakes totally over the top of the truck, keeping the hood and windshield dry and clean. But I can assure you that if I would’ve taken the windshield away, I would’ve needed goggles to watch the cockpit being filled. Since «Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed»; due to a plan against a breeze, the airstream is compressed, accelerated and is partly transformed by a void turbulent airflow.

At low ship’s speed, the air flow was driven upward and above the nest in the exact same manner. You just had to back up in the nest to not feel the wind too much. But at higher speed, backing in the nest was not sufficient. The lookouts had to rig a canvas air deflector at the rear of the nest. It would then bring the air flow higher and produce a larger void that gave better protection against the breeze. On a ship’s bridge wing not equipped by wind deflector, you just have to back up a bit if you don’t want to feel the wind too much; far from rocket science.

Light shade canvas would’ve been unnecessary since a lookout didn’t have to scan the horizon more than 2 points abaft the beam. Any type of vessels approaching from a direction of more than 2 points abaft the beam is considered by the Rules of the road as an overtaking vessel, which befalls as the giveaway vessel and must keep clear from the stand-on vessel.

Sorry but, I personally found the lookout duties as the most boring job on earth and steering a vessel by hand on a straight course not much more exiting; but an experience required if you wish one day to command a vessel.
The rear screen was to protect the lookout's night vision Georges. Nothing to do with wind or shelter. The front bulkhead and the cylindrical shape of the nest acted like a wind break, deflecting a 25 mph wind left... right up and over.. We had exactly the same system on Anchor Line passenger ships. We also had venturi-type deflectors on the bridge wings on other ships I served on. Rear screens were very useful to lookouts when during buoyed channel passage at night, they needed to spot buoy lights. You, as a Pilot will know how annoying accommodation light glare can be on night passage down such a channel.
 

Georges Guay

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Jim, you wrote somewhere that you had the honor to serve in the barrel in 50 feet waves and if there be no watertight door on the mast, the spray would’ve flooded the vessel. That must’ve been quite an experience! Have you any «evidence» like a medal of heroism, photos or something of that sort?

Nowadays, I am quite sure that you can spot at nighttime the glow of an Oasis Class cruiseship beyond the horizon. But on her bridge, you would see absolutely nada zero of that glare; pitch dark expect that faint panama light requested by pilots on narrow channel passages.

That was exactly the same on Titanic; all forward passageways lights shining forward would be switched off, except the side navigation lights. Furthermore, the height and location of the nest would make any accommodation light refraction insignificant. In addition, the lookouts didn’t have to scan the horizon more than 2 points abaft the beam, as any approaching vessels beyond that direction were giveaway.

If the lookouts would've need curtains to shadow them from dazzling accommodation light, that same glare would've been refracted on forward deck structures and become a nuisance the OOW night vision. They would then have to canvas the whole bridge. The «evidence» shows that it would’ve been totally inacceptable. Even vigorous Smith, to say the least, would have dispute.
 

Scott Mills

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Nae danger mate ;)

I urge everyone to catch my upcoming new documentary and book based upon evidence which I uncovered in my Grannie's garden shed which proves that RMS Titanic was fatally rammed by one of the Kaiser's warships disguised as an iceberg.

I'm going to make thousands from suckers !

(On a serious note, I'm afraid that there are some sad individuals out there who would readily believe nonsense like that)

And what connection did your Grannie have to the Kaiser!? Something fishy is going on here. :D

PS. Just reading back through the last few pages, this thread took a downward spiral quickly; and just for the record, someone need not know "what time X picture was taken by whom," nor do they need to know what room exactly X porthole connected with, to be an expert on Titanic or her foundering.

Not that some of these facts are not interesting, but is details like this that are literally trivial in the final analysis.
 
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Jim Currie

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Jim, you wrote somewhere that you had the honor to serve in the barrel in 50 feet waves and if there be no watertight door on the mast, the spray would’ve flooded the vessel. That must’ve been quite an experience! Have you any «evidence» like a medal of heroism, photos or something of that sort?

Nowadays, I am quite sure that you can spot at nighttime the glow of an Oasis Class cruiseship beyond the horizon. But on her bridge, you would see absolutely nada zero of that glare; pitch dark expect that faint panama light requested by pilots on narrow channel passages.

That was exactly the same on Titanic; all forward passageways lights shining forward would be switched off, except the side navigation lights. Furthermore, the height and location of the nest would make any accommodation light refraction insignificant. In addition, the lookouts didn’t have to scan the horizon more than 2 points abaft the beam, as any approaching vessels beyond that direction were giveaway.

If the lookouts would've need curtains to shadow them from dazzling accommodation light, that same glare would've been refracted on forward deck structures and become a nuisance the OOW night vision. They would then have to canvas the whole bridge. The «evidence» shows that it would’ve been totally inacceptable. Even vigorous Smith, to say the least, would have dispute.
In fact, Georges, I have been on a semi submersible in 60 feet waves/ You should try it some time. I have to smile at all you young whipersnappers who think that being on a 500 K vessel is "sea-faring"/:rolleyes:

On a serious note, though, I had the misfortune to have been on one of the ships that attempted to rescue the poor lads on the German Sail Training Ship "Pamir".
We all limped into Las Palmas in a broken, sorry state. Not the least bit funny, I can tell you. Yes , I do have a medal or two. I'll see if I can find them or the citations/
 

Georges Guay

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Feb 26, 2017
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Holy hell !!! No other choice than getting down on my knees …

Jim, was it on that occasion that the commander sent you in the barrel to give a break to the crew to avoid a mutiny? Lucky you he didn’t dive to solve the problem… ;)

But I am still perplexed about your Victoria Cross. I tough your deserved it on that occasion; While serving at the wheel of a tramp steamer during a voyage amid the North Atlantic, you came across an hurricane lifting 60 feet waves. During you nighttime watch, the steamer came broadside to a freak wave. Even if you had spin the wheel in 2¼ seconds to correct the compass heading and avoid the patent log to get fouled, the steering gear buffer spring decided otherwise. The wheel kicked back fiercely, an handle got stock in your white short pants and you loose a family jewel!!! After having bandaged your sack with some electric tape, you went back steering as nothing had happened. Can you confirm or refute? :)
 
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Fluffdaddy71

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Jul 23, 2021
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The front of the Nest would deflect the wind upward ward and on each side. The same thing happened on the bridge-wing front. In fact, later ships had a sort of "venturi" plate fitted to increase the rate of deflection in slower ships.
A speed of 22 knots would’ve created a 22 knot wind. Giving the iceberg watchers a problem this is a great question and should be reenacted with a replica lookout with two people in the lookout with actual air temps without or with binoculars just for all the people Lost on the Titanic. Get Mythbusters on it!
 
Nov 14, 2005
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In fact, Georges, I have been on a semi submersible in 60 feet waves/ You should try it some time. I have to smile at all you young whipersnappers who think that being on a 500 K vessel is "sea-faring"/:rolleyes:

On a serious note, though, I had the misfortune to have been on one of the ships that attempted to rescue the poor lads on the German Sail Training Ship "Pamir".
We all limped into Las Palmas in a broken, sorry state. Not the least bit funny, I can tell you. Yes , I do have a medal or two. I'll see if I can find them or the citations/
I went to a few Armed Guard reunions with my dear ol dad and it seemed a common belief (it was a joke of course ) that being on an aircraft carrier didn't qualify as sea-duty. At least I think it was a joke...:p
 
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