EJ's instruction to the lifeboat


Colin John James

This really relates to how near the mystery ship was to the TITANIC.
Captain Smith is reported to have told one of the boats to "row to that light and return".
Now knowing how long the ship had left approx, he must have felt the light was pretty damn close to give that order, surely no more than a mile in his estimation.

Could they perhaps been his own reflections.
Somehow, I doubt it. That there was a ship nearby was a fact that is accounted for by a substantial number of winesses, and the very likeliest candidate is the Californian. The trouble is that at night, it is extremely difficult to estimate dustances accurately so it's possible that any ship would have looked a lot closer then it actually was.

The Californian was and remains the subject of some extremely passionate debate, especially over such points as distances of seperation. I don't believe that she was only a mile or two away. More like four to five times that. Some insist it was more, others less. Whatever the case may be...opinions vary and I don't intend to get into it here...it would have taken a lifeboat quite a while to get to where she was either way. Especially since they were powered only by what sailors then referred to sarcastically as Swedish Steam. (Oars and muscle!)

Michael H. Standart
This order remains one of the mysteries of the night. The boat that is was given to was one of the worst crewed of all. The Swedish steam was supplied almost entirely by women. The distant ship was showing the lights of a steamer, not a sailing ship, so why on earth row to it and then row back? Get its captain off his backside and steam to the rescue!

I'd like to think that the order was never given but it's as well attested to as anything that happened that night. I fear that we are looking for rationality where none existed. Not everything that was done was logical or reasonable. The strange antics on Californian are a shining example. Life's like that!
Dave G -- Your last paragraph about the way of real life truly sums up Titanic.

If Captain Smith ordered a boat to row to the lights on the horizon, it was probably an attempt to wake up the other vessel. Everything else had failed. IF Smith did give such an order it indicates the depth of his frustration. Viewed logically, a lifeboat was not going to row to the other ship in time to change the outcome of the night.

--David G. Brown
I would have to agree with Captain Daves view of what Captain Smith supposedly said. In a way it sort of makes sense. At this point Smith knows the ship is done for and unless some sort of help comes rather quickly 1500 or more are going to die. This is like a last ditch effort to raise the attention of a ship that he can see. Deep down he probably knew that the lifeboat wouldn't make it that far before the ship sank but it was his own last ditch effort.