Going Down with the Ship


Kammy Tribus

Member
Aug 6, 2006
39
0
86
I am curious what others think about the prospect of going down with the ship. The captain of the Titanic was incredibly brave, IMO, even if he felt he had no choice.

Personally, I think I'd prefer to jump and then swim like hell! Many years ago, when I was working under my own captain's license, I thought about this a lot. Let me explain that I only ran small passenger vessels, those under 100 tons and in my case, only carried 150 passengers. We worked inside Boston Harbor so the odds of a great maritime disaster were quite remote!

I also worked as a mate on some whale watch vessels and we ventured out a bit father, at times in questionable conditions, and in very cold water. As a captain, and as a mate, there is no way I'd care to go down with my ship!

I would do everything and anything I could to care for my passengers first. I would see that all of them were off. Still, I would hope I have the time to get off myself. I would far prefer to face the wrath of the Coast Guard than I would to face a death by drowning and a watery grave.

Now that I have said my piece, I'd like to hear how others feel. Whether you are working as a professional, own your own boat, or are an armchair sailor, do you think you could go down with the ship?

Call me curious!

Kammy
 
Aug 15, 2005
908
5
111
34
Darwen, United Kingdom
We worked inside Boston Harbor so the odds of a great maritime disaster were quite remote!

Oh, I don't know - crates of tea can start wars, you know!
I'm not sure what I'd do to be quite honest. My granddad found himself in the predicament thrice (though he wasn't a captain), and he managed to survive each time. Then again, he was a coward.
I'd wait until the last, I suppose. I'm a bit old fashioned, so even as a passenger on a cruise liner, I'd put the women and children before myself.
Still, you never know until it happens.
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,242
527
278
Hey, the whole idea is not to have the ship go down in the first place. Dull voyages, that's the game plan--no sea stories. The three rules of being a captain are: 1.) keep the topside up; 2.) keep the water on the outside; and, 3.) don't hit anything hard like rocks or icebergs.

-- David G. Brown
 
May 1, 2004
294
1
111
As an armchair passenger, I'd have to stay with the ship. I can't swim, nor can I get into a canoe without panicking.

I understand David G. Brown's three rules, but 1) how do you start the ship; 2) how do you put the ship in gear; 3) how do you steer the ship; 4) how do you stop the ship; and 5) how do you read the map - I mean, the chart? Oh, and 6) do you keep to the left or to the right of oncoming vessels, seagulls, icebergs and rocks?
 
Feb 7, 2005
331
0
111
"I understand David G. Brown's three rules, but 1) how do you start the ship; 2) how do you put the ship in gear; 3) how do you steer the ship; 4) how do you stop the ship; and 5) how do you read the map - I mean, the chart? Oh, and 6) do you keep to the left or to the right of oncoming vessels, seagulls, icebergs and rocks?"

Sounds like you need to come to the upcoming conference in Toledo, Marilyn! (http://www.glts.org/events/toledo_2006/)

Denise
p.s. I can't swim, either, but if the ship was leaving me I'd try to find something I could float on and take my chances.
 
Jan 28, 2003
2,525
13
223
Water temperature nothwithstanding, you'd probably find yourself able to swim if you had to, at least for a bit, if not very efficiently. Apparently, I fell into the sea from a boat at age 4, and hadn't been taught to swim then, but I managed it. It's easier to swim than not to swim, if you see what I mean, even if it's only dog-paddle. Mind you, swimming in Edwardian clothes would have been a challenge for anybody, no matter how good a swimmer they were, despite the 'live preserver'. My 3-year old son nearly drowned in Greece wearing arm bands. Apparently toddler's heads make them top-heavy in the water, and wearing arm bands means they can't get upright again if they go in head first. Apparently, this has been known in Australia for ages, but doesn't seem to have caught on here. I nearly had a heart attack.
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,242
527
278
Marilyn-- keeping in the spirit of my "three rules," my answer to all of your questions is, "carefully, very carefully."

Starting a ship depends upon its age, type of power, and even country of origin. In Titanic's era, the captain issued an order; an officer used the engine telegraph to "ring down" to the engine room; in the engine room an officer shouted the proper command, then "rang up" a response to indicate the captain's order was being executed; then everyone waited while the various levers and wheels were operated to start the steam engine working. Today, a captain using a "joystick" about the size of a ball-point pen tells a computer where he wants the ship to go and the computer vectors the azipods and varies their thrust to make it so. Times change. Somewhere in a deep, dark research lab some Navy scientist is probably working on thought-directed control so the captain can just envision what he wants the ship to do and it will happen.

Steering is much the same. In Titanic's day the captain issued an order and the quartermaster turned the steering wheel which controlled the rudder. Today, the same joy stick that controls speed also vectors the thrust to maneuver the ship. Some ships also have a small steering wheel (often half the size of the one in your car) which mimmicks electronically the old-fashioned mechanical wheels.

Sadly, the new wheels are so-called "destroyer wheels"--round stainless steel hoops with no spoke handles. This eliminates the practice of storing your donuts on the spokes. They say that's the reason for the donut hole...or, maybe that's a sea story.

Steer right, pass left is the rule at sea when it comes to meeting other vessels. You are permitted to pass on the right, but only after exchanging signals or radio communication. Never turn left for an oncoming vessel!

There are no brakes on a ship. That's why there are no pedals on the bridge. Instead, a vessel can be brought to a stop by reversing the engines. Don't try this in your car as it will probably cause expensive parts to spew all over the highway. But, water is a liquid so the propeller can "slip" when it is reversed, easing the strain on the machinery. Still, crashing back a propeller at high speed invites expensive repairs.

As far as sea gulls go...you can't hit one if you try.

-- David G. Brown
 
May 1, 2004
294
1
111
Thank you, David. I should never ask a silly question anywhere near an expert - I might just learn something interesting. I never thought of steering a big ship with a joystick the size of a pen.
So, if two ships are going in the same direction, the faster ship passes on the left of the slower ship - like passing a car on the road?
What if the two ships are coming toward each other? Are there, like a road, separate lanes for two way traffic? Four way?

I'd like to come to Toledo, although I'm lazy about preparing for journeys - and now there is all that's involved in getting a passport. The conference sounds very informative though. Worthwhile to go. Hmmmm.
 
Aug 15, 2005
908
5
111
34
Darwen, United Kingdom
If the ships are coming t'ward each other, it's maritime law to pass port to port, and I'd imagine that multiple lane traffic depends upon the body of water in which you're sailing.
The busiest waters I've ever navigated was the River Dart at Dartmouth, and there was no multiple lane nonsense - we just had the river.
 
Apr 12, 2006
33
0
86
i have been told that it is maritime protical to go down with your ship if you are the captain. Is this correct? Also does anyone have any info on Bridget O'Sullivan. She could be the key to my mother's family tree. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
May 9, 2001
741
9
171
Kammy's question about going down with the ship is interesting because it focuses attention on the mental/emotional state of Smith during the sinking.

Did he dive into the sea from the port bridge rail per Phillips?
Did he swim for an upturned lifeboat, then turn away and drown quietly?
Any sensible person would naturally try to stay on the ship as long as possible, especially if the lifeboats were already gone.

My line of thought is that he likely was drowned inside the bridge as the inrushing sea cut off his means from escape. I like to imagine Smith rushing back into the chart room, or his quarters, to gather up log books, charts, and personal items in an attempt to get them into a lifeboat as he saw the final end was near.

He feels the ship lurch suddenly forward and grabs onto a window handle only to see the seawater outside envelope the window in a swirl of green bubbles. Dropping his papers and books in an attempt to regain his footing, he hears the sound of the wheelhouse being ravaged by the unstoppable water. He flings himself toward the doorway only to see the corridore filling with the gurgling sea at an inescapable rate. In an instant he is waist deep in the water. The entire corridore is sloping down at almost 50 degrees and he feels his feet lifted off the floor. Floating aft as the passageway lights fail, he is surged against the ceiling, gasping for air. 30 feet below the surface of the Atlantic, in an almost euteran environment of dim light and muffled sound, he scrambles in a frantic effort to find an exit from the corridore, now completly submerged. The pressure on his ears and lungs press in on him like steel clamps, causing his face to grimise and contort. Until his mind can no longer overcome the most animal of instincts erupting within him, and he breaths in deeply.

Icy seawater fills his lungs, instantly halting all respiration. Shocked by the cold, and delerious from lack of oxygen, his mind blacks out. His body relaxes.

Unconcious, he is at peace.

He is become ... ledgend.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,653
571
483
Easley South Carolina
>>I am curious what others think about the prospect of going down with the ship.<<

Errrrr....sounds like a really bad idea to me. I'm with David on this one. I would do whatever it took to make sure the question would never have to be addressed.
wink.gif
 
D

Donna Grizzle

Guest
considering that drowning is one of my biggest fears I would definitely do anything and everything imaginable to save my butt. Now, say I were a captain of a ship in jeopardy, I doubt I would take a passenger's seat in a boat but you'd better believe I'd have thought ahead and brought my own personal, inflatable raft on board and have it up within 5 minutes after the collision.

Perhaps this might be more appropriate for a whole new thread, but this discussion has led me to ponder another idea. What is the likelihood of another cruise liner disaster on the scale of Titanic ever happening again? This may sound oh so Edwardian of me but I can't imagine it happening in this day and age. By that I mean a modern ship encountering the same circumstances as Titanic did that evening. Has there even been a ship colliding with an iceberg in recent history?
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,653
571
483
Easley South Carolina
>>What is the likelihood of another cruise liner disaster on the scale of Titanic ever happening again?<<

What were the odds of the Titanic happening? There had been casualties on the North Atlantic run, but no really major loss of life in over 40 years by the time the Titanic came to a bad end. There have been some major shipping casualties since then with an even greater loss of life that have hardly even made the news though it should have. Over 4000 people are known to have died in that one and this accident happened as recently as 1987.

>>Has there even been a ship colliding with an iceberg in recent history?<<

Yes. See http://researchers.imd.nrc.ca/~hillb/icedb/ice/bergs2_01e.html
 
D

Donna Grizzle

Guest
Thanks Michael. That link surely answered my question!
 

Kammy Tribus

Member
Aug 6, 2006
39
0
86
This is turning out to be a great discussion! I enjoyed reading Yuri's response about Smith's state of mind and what the end of his life might have been like. Has anyone read the book "The Perfect Storm"? Much better than the movie though that was also quite good. In the book, Sebastian Unger writes about what the last moments of life may have been like for those on board. He did a great deal of research on drowning and his description is much like yours, Yuri. Your description also reinforces my determination to never go down with any ship, period!

Kammy
 

Kammy Tribus

Member
Aug 6, 2006
39
0
86
This is for you, Monica. I did not know about the problems with "floaties" as we call them but I've long used the floatie swim suits for my kids. You know, the ones with foam flotation sewn into the suit. Now here's the neat part - if you also put a swim diaper on your kid, it weights down their little bottom giving them the stability of a Weeble. As in "Weebles wobble but the won't fall down". LOL!

Kammy
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,242
527
278
Captain Smith took his thoughts and emotions with him. We have no access to them. All we have is the record of his actions. I wish to point out that as the forward end of the boat deck was starting to go under, Captain Smith went into the wireless office to tell Phillips and Bride to clear out. This shows the captain as having great concern for the men under his command even when the situation was clearly out of his hands. Smith took the time to go after his loyal radio operators. It tells us much about the man's character.

-- David G. Brown
 

Similar threads

Similar threads