How Far Apart were Titanic and Californian?


Rob Lawes

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Constantly beating someone over the head because of your perception of their experiences can be dangerous thing.

The little boy wasn't a qualified, experienced tailor but knew the Emperor had no clothes on.
 
May 3, 2005
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Hello Robert.

Never underestimate yourself. If you have been to sea in a ship in any capacity then you were a "real sailor."

As far as I know, Sam has never been to sea, consequently, as the old saying goes, you have "squeezed more salt water out of your sea-boot socks" than Sam has sailed over. I fear that your observation regarding setting stars will somehow be twisted by non sailors.
Hello Jim and once more thanks -
By being a ''real sailor'' I meant that I considered my self more as just a specialist in the field of the electronics equipment , in particular the surface search and air search radars on the ship. ET's and RD's in particular.
I considered the ''real sailors'' as those who regularly stood watches ''24/7'' and performed duties in navigation and the running of the ship.
In particular the officers and enlisted men on the bridge. QM',s in particular.

On the other hand , I have a sister-in-law who lives in California who is a member of a ''tall ships'' organization . I would consider her more of ''a real sailor'' than myself. I am also a terrible acrophobic and aquaphobic !

The comment on the ''seeing stars rising and setting on the horizon'' was taken from something I read about reports of what the Titanic survivors in the lifeboats saw while waiting for relief.

And I never got my socks wet so I never ''squeezed salt water out of my sea-boot socks.'' Matter of fact, I never wore any things
you might consider ''sea boots'' only during ''Boot Camp''. I was rather good at ''spit shines.'' LOL.
 
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Jim Currie

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Constantly beating someone over the head because of your perception of their experiences can be dangerous thing.

The little boy wasn't a qualified, experienced tailor but knew the Emperor had no clothes on.
Oh, I'm quite able to look after myself, Rob. However, I appreciate your warning. Perhaps you should spread your wisdom a little wider?

In the meantime, since I know you were a seaman, perhaps you might like to contribute to this debate in a positive way?

As for your quotation from Hans Christian Andersen? Think about the following:

"use of the story's title [The Emperor's new Coths] refers to something widely accepted as true or professed as being praiseworthy, due to an unwillingness of the general population to criticize it or be seen as going against popular opinion"

Forgive me for pointing out the obvious... I am the one who does not accept as true what is being repeated continuously. Consequently, I am the one who is very willing to go against popular opinion. As for a clothing quote? How about "Expensive clothing is a poor man’s attempt to appear prosperous.”
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Jim and once more thanks -
By being a ''real sailor'' I meant that I considered my self more as just a specialist in the field of the electronics equipment , in particular the surface search and air search radars on the ship. ET's and RD's in particular.
I considered the ''real sailors'' as those who regularly stood watches ''24/7'' and performed duties in navigation and the running of the ship.
In particular the officers and enlisted men on the bridge. QM',s in particular.

The comment on the ''seeing stars rising and setting on the horizon'' was taken from something I read about reports of what the Titanic survivors in the lifeboats saw while waiting for relief.

And I never got my socks wet so I never ''squeezed salt water out of my sea-boot socks.'' Matter of fact, I never wore any things
you might consider ''sea boots'' only during ''Boot Camp''.
I fully understood what you meant Robert. I was simply pointing out an error in your perception. I never got my sea boot socks wet either because I stayed out of deep water;)
However, I bow to your superior knowledge of electronics. I have read about the subject, and used electronic navigation systems at work, but would not argue about the guts of them in any great detail. In electronics, as far as I am concerned, you are an "Emperor", with or without clothes. :oops:
 

Rob Lawes

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In the meantime, since I know you were a seaman, perhaps you might like to contribute to this debate in a positive way?
Step into my parlour said the spider to the fly?

I have two questions that need an answer. One I've had for a long time and one has only recently occurred to me.

The first, as I have posted some time ago, supports a greater distance between the two vessels, Titanic and Californian, which is as follows:

If the Titanic was the vessel seen approaching the Californian and was clearly visible doing so for a good length of time before 23:40 Titanic time, how come there is no report of any vessels being sighted on a reciprocal from the Titanic during the same period. The only reports of vessels in the area occur after impact?

Having said that, my next question is more important. In the matter of the Californian, distance is irrelevant. Its like asking how far away was your hand from catching the falling vase? 6 inches or 6 feet, it makes no difference. We still watched as the vase hit the floor.

We know how close the Californian was. Close enough to the Titanic to see her socket signals detonate in the sky.

The question that needs answering is not how far apart we're they but what did Stone think he was seeing at the time.

You, Jim, describe Stone's treatment at the British Inquiry as bullying or harassment. I disagree. The questioners then are having the same difficulty we are now in understanding how Stone interpreted what he was seeing. He (Stone) says, and we all agree they were white rockets. The question is, what did he interpret them to be? One or two could be a company signal, maybe. But after the third, fourth, fifth, sixth? What then? They were fired at regular intervals and even if we suggest a rate of one every 7 minutes that's still well over half an hour of doing absolutely diddly squat other than continue to send a flashing light call up that hadn't worked at any stage up to that point so there is zero reason to believe it would at any stage there after.

So that's the real question we need to answer. What did Herbert Stone interpret those signals to mean? Sadly we will never now what went through his mind during those fateful hours but within it lies the answer to the whole story.

That's my contribution.
 

Jim Currie

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Step into my parlour said the spider to the fly?

I have two questions that need an answer. One I've had for a long time and one has only recently occurred to me.

The first, as I have posted some time ago, supports a greater distance between the two vessels, Titanic and Californian, which is as follows:

If the Titanic was the vessel seen approaching the Californian and was clearly visible doing so for a good length of time before 23:40 Titanic time, how come there is no report of any vessels being sighted on a reciprocal from the Titanic during the same period. The only reports of vessels in the area occur after impact?

Having said that, my next question is more important. In the matter of the Californian, distance is irrelevant. Its like asking how far away was your hand from catching the falling vase? 6 inches or 6 feet, it makes no difference. We still watched as the vase hit the floor.

We know how close the Californian was. Close enough to the Titanic to see her socket signals detonate in the sky.

The question that needs answering is not how far apart we're they but what did Stone think he was seeing at the time.

You, Jim, describe Stone's treatment at the British Inquiry as bullying or harassment. I disagree. The questioners then are having the same difficulty we are now in understanding how Stone interpreted what he was seeing. He (Stone) says, and we all agree they were white rockets. The question is, what did he interpret them to be? One or two could be a company signal, maybe. But after the third, fourth, fifth, sixth? What then? They were fired at regular intervals and even if we suggest a rate of one every 7 minutes that's still well over half an hour of doing absolutely diddly squat other than continue to send a flashing light call up that hadn't worked at any stage up to that point so there is zero reason to believe it would at any stage there after.

So that's the real question we need to answer. What did Herbert Stone interpret those signals to mean? Sadly we will never now what went through his mind during those fateful hours but within it lies the answer to the whole story.

That's my contribution.
Fine, Rob! I will try and answer the difficult bit.

You and others may have difficulty interpreting Stone's evidence. I suggest to you that anyone who has seen a fireworks display should have no difficulty at all.
First, let us assume that Titanic's distress signals were designed to rise to a height of 600 feet above sea level. They were fired from her boat deck which was 70 feet above sea level. So in total, they burst at a height of about 670 feet above sea level.
Titanic's white masthead light was 175 feet above sea level, therefore, the signal burst (stars) would be seen at about 495 feet above her white masthead light. here is how Stone described them:
" 921. Tell me what you said to the Chief Officer?
- I have remarked at different times that these rockets did not appear to go very high; they were very low lying; they were only about half the height of the steamer's masthead light and I thought rockets would go higher than that."

Does the foregoing answer your question?
 

Julian Atkins

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The question that needs answering is not how far apart we're they but what did Stone think he was seeing at the time.

You, Jim, describe Stone's treatment at the British Inquiry as bullying or harassment. I disagree. The questioners then are having the same difficulty we are now in understanding how Stone interpreted what he was seeing. He (Stone) says, and we all agree they were white rockets. The question is, what did he interpret them to be? One or two could be a company signal, maybe. But after the third, fourth, fifth, sixth? What then? They were fired at regular intervals and even if we suggest a rate of one every 7 minutes that's still well over half an hour of doing absolutely diddly squat other than continue to send a flashing light call up that hadn't worked at any stage up to that point so there is zero reason to believe it would at any stage there after.

So that's the real question we need to answer. What did Herbert Stone interpret those signals to mean? Sadly we will never now what went through his mind during those fateful hours but within it lies the answer to the whole story

Hi Rob,

That is a very pertinent post, and excellently posed.

I would also add to your above why Stone dithered for some 30 minutes in sending Gibson down to the chart room at 2.05am to report to Captain Lord of the 8 white rockets seen, whilst during the preceding 30 minutes or so chatting on the bridge about 'her lights look queer' 'a big side out of the water' etc etc.

And why, by 1.10 or 1.15am, Stone reports (via the speaking tube to Captain Lord) only a flash then a rocket (or if you want, 2 rockets) when 5 rockets by then had been seen. This makes no sense to me, and Gibson gives one account that contradicts Stone on all this.

I don't myself consider Stone and Gibson's 18th April statements to be a full statements or necessarily accurate (and honest) as the chat before 2.05am is significantly missing, and only came out on cross examination at the British Inquiry (plus a great deal more).

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Jim Currie

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Further to my reply to Rob:

If the distress signals seen by Stone were socket signals then proportionally, they should have been seen about five timed higher above the white masthead light than that same white light was above the red sidelight.. regardless of the distance separating the two vessels.
Here is a little sketch to illustrate what I mean. It is to scale.
Seen v SHS.jpg

The stars to the left of the red light are as Stone described. If the signals he saw came from the vessel in sight, and they were Cotton Powder Co. socket signals, then they should have appeared to Stone exactly as the ones above the white masthead light as illustrated.

Since Julian is anxious to discuss in detail, the interrogation of 2nd Officer Stone. I will open a new thread dedicated to the subject. I'm sure he will be able to give us an insight into what was going on from a legal point of view. I will begin by saying it as I see it.
 
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Mar 22, 2003
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If you have been to sea in a ship in any capacity then you were a "real sailor."
Then there are a lot of us real sailors out there.
Yes, Sam, as Julian points out, we can all read. have you ever been to sea? have you ever looked through binoculars at night
Yes, for your information, I have. You really know very little about me or my past experiences and interests.
 
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" 921. Tell me what you said to the Chief Officer?
- I have remarked at different times that these rockets did not appear to go very high; they were very low lying; they were only about half the height of the steamer's masthead light and I thought rockets would go higher than that."
There is not a single ounce of corroborative evidence to support his so-called observation.
 
May 3, 2005
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Further to my reply to Rob:

If the distress signals seen by Stone were socket signals then proportionally, they should have been seen about five timed higher above the white masthead light than that same white light was above the red sidelight.. regardless of the distance separating the two vessels.
Here is a little sketch to illustrate what I mean. It is to scale.
View attachment 44571
The stars to the left of the red light are as Stone described. If the signals he saw came from the vessel in sight, and they were Cotton Powder Co. socket signals, then they should have appeared to Stone exactly as the ones above the white masthead light as illustrated.

Since Julian is anxious to discuss in detail, the interrogation of 2nd Officer Stone. I will open a new thread dedicated to the subject. I'm sure he will be able to give us an insight into what was going on from a legal point of view. I will begin by saying it as I see it.
It would seem to me that the signals were from another vessel farther beyond the vessel showing its masthead lights ?
 
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Jim Currie

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There is not a single ounce of corroborative evidence to support his so-called observation.
Are you serious? Is it your contention that unless every witness has a sworn back-up, he is lying?

When someone lies in these circumstances, there is an ulterior motive for doing so. Instead of doing a "Brer-rabbit" with this, you, an everyone else should ask the question: "What would Stone's purpose be for falsely describing what he saw?"
You and others must keep in mind that during a Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry into a loss, many witnesses are called and to tell lies under oath is fraught with danger since, in such circumstances, there is no guarantee that shipmate will tell the same tale. I remind you of the "haze" story of Fleet and Lee.


For sure, there is no corroboration as to what Stone said saw at that time...not in so many words, but I suggest to you that it is perfectly reasonable that Stone was simply describing what he saw and reinforcing what he wrote earlier in his report to Captain Lord, dated April 18. I quote:

"I made out to be a white rocket though I observed no flash on the deck or any indication that it had come from that steamer, in fact, it appeared to come from a good distance beyond her."

How do you think Stone got that impression?

If, Stone had told his questioners he thought the signals came form beyond the nearby vessel, what do you think he would next be asked?

What you are asking everyone to believe is that this insignificant person, who reportedly had little or no imagination, concocted an elaborate tale to put off his questioners.
 
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By the way, if Stone's claim was true, and if that steamer was tramp about 5 miles away with a masthead light about 100 ft above the sea, then those 8 rockets that he saw came from a vessel more than 27 miles away, assuming they burst 650 ft above the sea. Even further away if you want to assume abnormal refraction. If they came from a vessel only 22 miles away, then they should have appeared to burst a little higher than the masthead light. Or maybe the tramp was only 2.5 miles away Californian instead of 5?
But what do we know? If Stone said it was so, then it had to be so.
 

Jim Currie

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Then there are a lot of us real sailors out there.

Yes, for your information, I have. You really know very little about me or my past experiences and interests.
On the contrary, you have told us all a great deal of your past and interests. However, being at the helm of a 25 ft sailboat on Raritan Bay on a fine summer day, does not qualify you as a mariner. I am curious as to the qualification "yachtsman's mate". However, if you had any real experience of sailing at night on such a night as is under discussion, then you would know exactly what it was like to look and see the horizon.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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If, Stone had told his questioners he thought the signals came form beyond the nearby vessel, what do you think he would next be asked?
I can tell you exactly what was asked:
7908. Where did you think they came from, if they did not come from that ship? - Possibly from a greater distance past the ship.
7909. You thought they came from some other ship? - Possibly.

And then after being questioned as to who he mentioned this to, we have the following.

7920. Have you ever said it before to anybody else? - Yes. I think I have said it both to the Chief Officer and to the Third Officer in conversation.
7921. Tell me what you said to the Chief Officer? - I have remarked at different times that these rockets did not appear to go very high; they were very low lying; they were only about half the height of the steamer’s masthead light and I thought rockets would go higher than that.
7922. Well, anything else? - But that I could not understand why if the rockets came from a steamer beyond this one, when the steamer altered her bearing the rockets should also alter their bearings.

But you can read it all for yourself.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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On the contrary, you have told us all a great deal of your past and interests.
Not really. What I posted on my website is only a few tidbits about myself and what I enjoyed doing in some of my earlier days. I'm not a mariner by profession, and never claimed to be. But unlike some people, I don't feel the need to tell everyone everything about what I have done and all the experiences I had. What I will say is that my interests in such things as celestial and coastal navigation and even some offshore sailing was more than just academic, and included some practical experience in those fields as well. But I will never use any of that to claim that I'm an expert and therefore know how people, who are no longer around, would think and act when confronted with certain events that they took part in.
 

Jim Currie

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By the way, if Stone's claim was true, and if that steamer was tramp about 5 miles away with a masthead light about 100 ft above the sea, then those 8 rockets that he saw came from a vessel more than 27 miles away, assuming they burst 650 ft above the sea. Even further away if you want to assume abnormal refraction. If they came from a vessel only 22 miles away, then they should have appeared to burst a little higher than the masthead light. Or maybe the tramp was only 2.5 miles away Californian instead of 5?
But what do we know? If Stone said it was so, then it had to be so.
For a start off, get your facts right...he only saw 7 rockets.

Stone used an "about" to gauge the height of the rocket burst relative to the masthead light. He was doing so at a distance through binoculars, (which you know all about). So he was not stating exact facts. He assumed a distance from the nearby vessel
In your post there are 5 "if"s, 2 "about"s, an "assuming", an "assume".
You assume a rocket height above the sea of 650 feet, in fact, you have no idea how high Titanic's signals went. You assume a height for the masthead light. Again, pure guesswork.

Bottom line you offer an argument which, to say the least, is unscientific. The sarcastic finale was unnecessary, Sam. I suspect we are getting to the bit where you resort to " You believe what you like" which means the same as "I refuse to admit that I may be mistaken".
 
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Not really. What I posted on my website is only a few tidbits about myself and what I enjoyed doing in some of my earlier days. I'm not a mariner by profession, and never claimed to be. But unlike some people, I don't feel the need to tell everyone everything about what I have done and all the experiences I had. What I will say is that my interests in such things as celestial and coastal navigation and even some offshore sailing was more than just academic, and included some practical experience in those fields as well. But I will never use any of that to claim that I'm an expert and therefore know how people, who are no longer around, would think and act when confronted with certain events that they took part in.
As I have posted some of my past experiences , I have nothing to hide.
But also, as I pointed out , although I have been to sea , I have no experience or knowledge of celestial navigation or more subjects .
I didn't even know that the distance to the horizon depended on the height of the observer.
I just thought the crow's nest was just so high to give the lookout a less obstructed view.
Quite a bit about a lot of things have been learned from these forums.

IMHO & LOL..At least in the U.S. Navy , whether or not you consider yourself a "real sailor" depends on your own "specialty rating."
 
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Jim Currie

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Not really. What I posted on my website is only a few tidbits about myself and what I enjoyed doing in some of my earlier days. I'm not a mariner by profession, and never claimed to be. But unlike some people, I don't feel the need to tell everyone everything about what I have done and all the experiences I had. What I will say is that my interests in such things as celestial and coastal navigation and even some offshore sailing was more than just academic, and included some practical experience in those fields as well. But I will never use any of that to claim that I'm an expert and therefore know how people, who are no longer around, would think and act when confronted with certain events that they took part in.
Sam, I believe you are or were, a Systems Analyst.

If I or anyone else wrote something which you knew to be wrong concerning your profession, what would you do? Would you call upon your expertise and write a correction? Or would you hide your light under a bushel and just go along with what was written for the sake of peace?
If you did write and were challenged, would you still hide your expertise and go with the flow? Or would you qualify your answer by showing why you knew it to be correct?

I make no apology for declaring myself an "Expert" in my field. I have been at it for a very long time and am proud of my service. Many on both sides of the Atlantic have paid me for my expertise so it must It must have been of value to some folks.
As for those long dead? I have told you this before...I knew and worked with such men. I was trained by men who were actually at sea at the time of Titanic. In the beginning, I practiced navigation in exactly the same way as did men like Smith, Lord, Moore and Rostron...and Bisset.
I also served on ships fitted in exactly the same way as was Titanic and her sisters and for several years followed the same route to New York and to the same Manhatten Piers.

I have yet to succumb to senility. If all of this makes you uncomfortable. I am sorry. I suggest you live with it! :D
 
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For a start off, get your facts right...he only saw 7 rockets.
So why did he write: "I sent Gibson down to you and told him to wake you and tell you we had seen altogether eight white rockets ..."
Yep, I agree. Get your facts right.
You assume a rocket height above the sea of 650 feet, in fact, you have no idea how high Titanic's signals went. You assume a height for the masthead light. Again, pure guesswork.
There are many assumptions being made, including you taking someone's word for what they claimed they saw without challenge. As far the height of socket signals go, I have a very good idea about that, and that comes from several technical sources that describe these socket signals as reaching heights to about 600 ft. I added 50 ft more for the height of bridge. The Cotton Powder Co. said 600-800 ft if you care to believe company advertisements. As far as using 100 ft masthead light, that simple comes from taking what Lord said about it being a tramp steamer similar in size to Californian. So what assumptions do you care to use?