Electric sprays

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Oct 23, 2000
Captain Rostron ordered: "Electric sprays in each gangway and over side." when his ship was rushing north towards the Titanic.
Just what exactly does "spray" denote? A special type of light, or is it just a nautical term for any old light?
These would have lit up his ship considerably, would they have not? Did any survivor in the lifeboats note what effect these "spray" lights gave the Carpathia?

Richard K.

Dave Gittins

Mar 16, 2000
I've always taken it to mean a number of lights strung together like fairy lights, only white. any other thoughts?

Jonathon Jedd

Dave: I'm not familiar with the term "fairy lights", but I think I envisioned basically the same thing you're describing. My impression of that portion of Rostron's orders was that Carpathia was "decked out" somewhat like a Christmas tree, with strings of lights ringing the gangways and hanging along the top deck. (Admittedly, I may be waxing too nostagically with the Season.) ;-)

I imagined this was done not so much for high illumination, but to better define the ship's form and pinpoint the entryways in the dark. Same thing you meant?

Excellent question, Richard!

Season's greetings to both of you,
Oct 28, 2000
RE: Carpathia's "Sprays"

I believe that I have seen the word "spray" used much as we in the United States use the word "flood" to describe a type of light. Perhaps our British members could check an archaic volume or two of early 20th century word useage.

--David G. Brown

Graham Pickles

In answer to Richard A Krebes letter,

Just what exactly does sprays denote.

Sprays in my mind denote as David Gittins suggests fairy lights or string of light.
It is undoubtable to mean search light's as in the Blackmarr narrative on the E.T. site Blackmarr states "the commission has answered the question should searchlights have been provided and used in the...."
and concludes at the end with with " the instillation of search lights to be operated over the sides of vessels to facilitate the lowering of boats in the water.

So my conclusion would be that searchlights where not on board.

I may be totally wrong and I am sure a lot of people out thear will correct me.
yours Graham
Sep 20, 2000
Hi, all!

I'd have thought something like Christmas lights myself. My American Heritage Dictionary (2nd College Ed.) gives:
spray[sup]2[/sup]: 1. a small branch bearing buds, flowers, or berries 2. Something that resembles a spray. (ME)​
I'd imagine that this is the derivation for the term as applied to lights, rather than the primary, "water droplets" meaning. Which would make it sound more like a "string" of lights to me.

But frankly, I don't know for sure myself. That's just the impression I've always gotten. Any incredibly fortunate OED owners out there?

John Feeney
Oct 23, 2000
Hm! In the Ken Marschall painting showing lifeboats approaching the Carpathia, I can see one light each in both of the C.'s gangways, but no lights strung over the side.
A factual FUBAR, or because the only sprays were in the vicinity of the gangways?

Richard K.
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