How Far South did the Titanic Reach?

Jim Currie

Apr 16, 2008
Funchal. Madeira
No Sam, there was no question about it. Titanic's Lookouts have nothing to do with this at all. I am talking about the three rockets seen by Gibson toward the end of the 12 to 4 am Watch. Please read the evidence:

Apprentice Gibson:

"594. (The Solicitor-General.) .... If it was twenty minutes to four it was not very far off the beginning of dawn, was it?
- No, dawn was just breaking...7595. Had it got any lighter?
Answer: - Yes.
7596. Could you see when you saw this flash at all how far away you thought it was? Answer: - It was right on the horizon.

First if all, if dawn was just breaking and Gibson was looking south eastward through binoculars, then he would see a hard horizon...not a soft one.
Second: if he saw these flashes right on the horizon and they were standard distress signals which had risen to design height above sea level then the vessel firing these signals was at least 33.5 miles away.
Third: If the vessel firing these signals came from the RMS Carpathia, and the timing seems to bear this out, then at 3-30 am, she was about 7 miles from Boxhall and he was 26 miles from the Californian.
Fourth: If Captain Lord's navigation was correct, then Carpathia's rockets only rose to a height of about 350 feet, not 500 feet above sea level.

Bottom line: if these rockets seen from Californian were from Carpathia then Californian was most certainly a great deal farther away from the sinking Titanic than 16 miles. There can be no doubt about it.

Jim Currie

Apr 16, 2008
Funchal. Madeira
I don't know of any recovered watch that showed 11:40. I do know of a couple of recovered watches that showed close to 1:35 which apparently were set back the expected amount before these people retired. Most recovered watches showed a time around 2:20, some a few minutes earlier, others a few minutes later, just what you would expect to see. Anyway, as I have pointed out before, if the collision happened at 12:04 unadjusted time, then I would expect to see many accounts stating the accident happened just after midnight. Other than Gracie's account, which he said was erroneous, almost all passenger accounts place the collision time about quarter to twelve, give or take a few. And none of these people talked about setting their watches back. In fact, Jack Thayer said his watch showed 11:45 when the ship struck as he was in the process of winding it while preparing to retire. He also claimed that this same watch had stopped at 2:22 when he had a chance to look at it while on board Carpathia. Elinor Cassebeer noted that her watch showed 11:44 at the time of collision and that it had been set to ship's time while she was at dinner that night by purser McElroy. And of course there is bosun's mate Albert Hainse who stated for the record that the right time of collision "without putting the clock back" was 11:40.

Well we have been through all these arguments many, many times before, so I see no reason for any further debate.
Well Sam, if you keep punting the unaltered clock theory then there most certainly is a very good reason for further debate.

You selectively quote passengers, Sam. As I have said before, passenger accounts of an event can be notoriously unreliable. They will very often quote hearsay evidence and embellish it. Captain Rostron of the Carpathia knew that full-well;

"I know nothing, but I have heard rumors of different passengers; some will say one thing and some another. I would, therefore, rather say nothing. I do not know anything. From the officers I know nothing. I could give you silly rumors of passengers, but I know they are not reliable, from my own experience; so, if you will excuse me, I would prefer to say nothing."

I can assure you, witness accounts, particularly witnesses who have had time to compare notes with other witnesses to the same event and who have read details in the newspapers as to what happened during a prolonged incident can be notoriously inaccurate with their memories Don't take my word for it, there is an eminently qualified member of this forum who, I'm sure, can vouch for this.

As to Col. Gracie: why do you think that an educated man such as Gracie was would retract the evidence he gave under oath? Not only did he give a time for impact as about midnight as shown on his watch, but during the same interview, he also gave a time of sinking as 2-22 am by exactly the same watch. This means he had unaltered time in his watch, First evidence given under oath is the only evidence that counts. As to his 11;45 pm time...This from his book:

" I was enjoying a good night's rest when I was aroused by a sudden shock and noise forward on the starboard side, which I at once concluded was caused by a collision, with some other ship perhaps. I jumped from my bed, turned on the electric light, glanced at my watch nearby on the dresser, which I had changed to agree with ship's time on the day before and which now registered twelve o'clock. Correct ship's time would make it about 11.45".

The 'day before\ was April 14. Therefore the man's watch was registering April 14 , Noon time ship. Impact occurred at about 12 o' clock on April 14. When the Colonel referred to "correct ship's time", he was obviously not referring to the time on his watch. It follows that he believed that impact occurred at about 11-45 altered time. Why cannot you see that?
However since you like the evidence of passengers; what about the evidence of another famous passenger... Lawrence Beesley:

"One of them [leading Stoker Barrett]—I think he was the same man that cut us free from the pulley ropes—told us how he was at work in the stoke-hole, and in anticipation of going off duty in quarter of an hour,—thus confirming the time of the collision as 11.45,—had near him a pan of soup keeping hot on some part of the machinery; suddenly the whole side of the compartment came in, and the water rushed him off his feet."

Now why would Barratt secretly anticipate going off Watch in 44 minutes after impact but tell Beesley he was due off Watch 15 minutes after impact?

To your credit, you also quote a crew member...the Assistant Bosun Albert Hainsse by jumping on his statement "without putting the clock back" was 11:40." There's two things here:

A: Haines was on the 8 to Midnight Watch and was due to be relieved at Midnight, partially adjusted time. Why on earth would he have unaltered time on his watch? If he did have unaltered time, why would he make reference to altered time? No one else except Lightoller, the Lookouts, Annie Robertson and Trimmer Dillon did that. Assistant Cook Collins did not refer to it directly but he obviously had fully altered time on his watch at the time of impact.
B: Haines, being in charge of the Watch would have either partly or fully altered time. He obviously had partly altered time...i.e. time without putting the clock back (the planned amount). He was obviously anticipating a question about ship's time that never came.

I don't know why I bother remind you of all these facts, Sam. After all, you completely discount the fact that Titanic lost a full knot of speed between Noon April 14 and 6 pm that evening. Consequently you discount the presence of the eastern extension of the Gulf Stream. This despite the statements of experienced seamen who stated as follows:

Captain Charles Johnston:
" And when the berg get into the Gulf Stream , its tendency is to move in what direction under ordinary conditions, quiet conditions of water, ordinary conditions of water?
- East between, longitudes 50 and 49, then rapidly curving to the north.
Captain Charles Moore
" Of course, that ice had been in the gulf stream and was going with the gulf stream. The gulf stream, as we know, is always flowing to the east-northeast, "
Joseph Boxhall:
"16955. (The Solicitor-General.) It is not wind, your Lordship sees. (To the witness.) Whether there is a wind or no wind, the current will flow?
- Yes, but invariably we find a strong easterly set there; very often we find that the Gulf stream ".

Oh, I almost forgot. Carpathia was trying to make North,52 West toward the wrong distress position. Instead she found the survivors almost 13 miles to the eastward. What do you think set her so far to the east? OK her departure point might have been a little farther east... but 13 miles? Really?

Surely you are not going to claim that easterly current conveniently switched off and that although 5th Officer Lowe had a Master's Certificate, he really was a bit of a moron?

You are fully aware of the following, Sam but the following is for the edification of anyone else reading this.

If, as the evidence clearly shows, Titanic slowed down by a full knot due to a head current between Noon and 6 pm on the afternoon/evening of April 14, then all the other arguments about conflicting witness evidence concerning watch times of sinking and impact are simply distractions. If the evidence of her 5th officer is accepted then she covered 6 x 21 = 126 miles up until 6 pm on April 14. Additionally; if the evidence of her QM Rowe is accepted and she covered a total distance of 260 miles from Noon until the moment of impact, then there is no way impact took place at 11-40 pm...5 hours 40 minutes from 6 pm. Because if it did, then Titanic was making 23.7 knots from 6 pm and we all know that's nonsense.
However, if , as Col Gracie stated under oath, impact took place at 12 o'clock; exactly 6 hours after 6 pm then the ship's average speed during that period would have been 22.3 Knots. If it took place as the overwhelming body of relevant evidence suggests, at 4 minutes past midnight, then between 6 pm and the moment of impact she averaged a speed of 22.1 knots...the same as she averaged between Noon April 13 and Noon April 15.

Jim Currie

Apr 16, 2008
Funchal. Madeira
Hello David. An interesting dissertation indeed. If I may, I'll quote from it by section rather than down load the entire piece.

"Titanic's speed from noon to The Corner has been vexing historians since the ship sank and nobody has come up with a single solution that fits the known facts with no room for a counter argument."

As to speed, only historians who do not like or refute the definitive evidence as given under oath by 5th Officer Lowe. i.e. 20.95 knots have a problem with that element.
The question as to how that number 20.95 was arrived at is no mystery either. Sure, the verbal description of how it came about was somewhat convoluted but then consider the result of asking 4 complete strangers directions to the same location.
In essence, Low said he got the speed of 20.95 by dividing a number by six. It is not rocket science to deduce that since Lowe came on Watch at 6 pm that night, and would have received the 6 pm Patent Log reading from the QM at the aft docking bridge at that time, he would simply have divided that 6 pm log reading by 6. By equally simple arithmetic that number just had to be 125.7 nautical miles. Lowe even justified the use of 20.95 knots by declaring:

"If you take the average speed from 12 to 6 - that is giving her a run of six hours - she will not jump up in two hours [6 pm to 8 pm], from 12 to 6 o'clock, from that average speed. You have six hours in there to take a mean on."

If Lowe had used average engine rpm from Noon instead of speed then he would have used either 22.1 knots or the standard 21.5 knots. He did not do so.

In the absence of clear, contrary evidence, a proper investigator would accept the evidence of 5th Officer Lowe as to estimated speed between Noon and time of sights.

" Ironically, there is no historical significance to the speed of Titanic between Noon and The Corner. The significant information needed is the average speed from The Corner to the accident. "

Not true, David. The average speed from Noon to where the ship turned...not The Corner, is highly significant. Particularly when combined with lapsed time since Noon, estimated set and rate of current. Combined, these three arguments allow us to calculate a DR for where Titanic turned. Since professional Navigators do not simply use course, speed and distance to calculate a DR, and also make allowances for any perceived internal and external influences that may effect the vessel's course and speed and consequently the course made good, we have more than enough information to calculate where Titanic turned. I

"To really understand what took place during Titanic's last five hours of making way we must know the precise location ("fix") of where Titanic made The Corner and the precise GMT of that rounding. Neither were preserved in the record."

In practice we don't need to really understand the problem to the finite detail you suggest. All we need is a reasonable DR. and as I said, the evidence is available to calculate that. Long before the advent of GPS navigation, Navigators regularly made course alterations between two fixed positions.
As to time of turn; regardless of what QM Rowe said about the time of turning that late afternoon, all Titanic's surviving navigating Officers declared the ship time of turning to be 5-50 pm. Incidentally, not one of these officers would have used ship time in any of their calculations. To a man they would have worked exclusively in GMT. Consequently, since there is absolute proof that
Titanic's clocks were 2 hours 58 minutes SLOW of GMT when she made the turn, the GMT of turn was 08-48 pm.

There is a great deal of nonsense talked about The Patent Log in these pages. In fact, the idea of using engine rpm and slip tables to determine DR positions fell out of favour very soon after the the Titanic disaster and navigators regularly used Patent Log readings right up until the advent of GPS. They very seldom ever failed me and I used then all the time. Actually, of all Titanic's Navigators, young Lowe was the most practical. He was also, in my opinion, the best seaman of the bunch.

In fact. the answer to the problem has been staring everyone in the face since the year dot.
Lowe's evidence tells us that
Titanic ran 122.2 miles from Noon until she turned at 8-48 GMT. Te evidence tells us that the intended course for The Corner was 240.5 True. However, it also tells us that Titanic lost 1.1 knots of speed between Noon and 8-48 pm GMT, the time of turn. We have evidence that the engine revolutions remained the same post Noon. Consequently the only other reason for the slow down was a head current of 1.1 knots. We also have evidence that normally the current would run about ENE in direction. From the foregoing, a competent Navigator can easily obtain a reasonable accurate DR for where Titanic turned at 8-48 pm GMT (5-50 pm ship time).
QM Rowe's 260 mile Patent Log Reading at the time of impact combined with Lowe's evidence of speed indicating a Patent Log reading of 122. 2 miles at the turn tells us that Titanic ran on her new course for a distance of 137. 8 miles before impact took place. That allows us to run back on the reciprocal of the planned course from the longitude of the sinking to give us a longitude for the place of turning.

There is another bit of evidence that researchers have ignored or completely reject out of hand. It gives us a clearer in-sight into Boxhall's thought processes. He said he believed that Titanic made 266 True from where she turned and that he thought the idea was to gradually bring her back onto the prescribed course of 265 True. Pitman stated that the 7-30 pm sights put her 'right on the line'. It follows that if we can work a reasonable DR for the 7-30 pm Fix position, we can then work back and get a DR for where Boxhall thought the ship was when she turned. We can do this i
f we discount the alleged typing error explanation for Lowe's 162 distance and assume it was actually the distance used to calculate the DR for the 7-30 fix.

Then there's QM Hichens's evidence tells us that
Titanic increased her speed to 22.5 knots from 10-58 pm GMT (8 pm ship) onward. This gives a definitive amount to subtract from the 260 mile log reading at impact depending on the lapsed time used from 8 pm to impact.
No clock alteration tells us that impact took place at 2-38 am GMT on April, 15.
A 24 minute set back of clocks tell us that impact took place at 3-02 am GMT on April, 15.

There is more than enough evidence in the above to determine what happened, David.

"Boxahall said he used 22 knots, but the other officers disagreed. Why? "

Boxhall used 22 knots because, in his own words:

"I thought the ship was doing 22 knots..... It was an estimate that I had arrived at from the revolutions, although I had had no revolutions that watch; but, taking into consideration that it was smooth water and that there ought to have been a minimum of slip, I allowed 22 knots."

The other officers did not disagree with him, David. If you read the evidence carefully then ask yourself the question: What would the speed have been had the water not been smooth and there had not been a "minimum of slip?"
I'm sure you will come to the conclusion that I have been trying to get over to Sam. That is that Boxhall would simply have used 21.5 knots.. the speed assumed due to engine revolutions under normal conditions.

"Lightoller said he shot the stars just after 7:30 for an evening fix, but nobody remembered the location from those stars. Why?"

Simply because the only person who had a record of the coordinates for that position was Boxhall. These were in his work book and that was lost with the ship. All things being equal, the 7-30 pm position would have been transcribed by Boxhall into the Scrap Log at the end of his Watch. It would not have been laid off on the chart. In mid ocean, it is sufficient to know that the ship is right on the desired course line or is making good a certain course.

"Captain Smith's CQD position's longitude is within reason the ship's predicted midnight longitude and not the longitude where Titanic lay sinking. Why?"

What predicted Midnight are you referring to?


Jim Currie

Apr 16, 2008
Funchal. Madeira
Jim, I think one can not conclude from 47 minutes that a slow down was exspected. The clocks are changed by integer number of minutes and the 47 minutes are the result of round up or down. I think Smith calculated that way:

22 knots, 24,8 hours, 545,6 miles to exspect.
Starting Point: 43-02 N 44-31 W
Monday noon: 41-23 N 56-20 W
Difference of longitude: 11°49' * 4 = 47 minutes 16 seconds, round down 47 minutes.

Other possibility:
21,5 knots, 24,7 hours, 532,1 miles to exspect
Starting Point: 43-02 N 44-31 W
Monday noon: 41-24 N 56-02 W
Difference of longitude: 11°31' * 4 = 46 minutes 4 seconds, round down 46 minutes.

1 Minute of time represents 11 miles more or less.
The Input value for result 47 minutes will be 543 miles plus/minus 5.
They intended to alter the clock by 47 minutes, so most likely they exspected 22 knots for the next day.

Boxhall obviously thought the ship had over-shot. Otherwise how could Titanic have been 'right on the track' at 7-30pm sights and make good a course up to then of 266 True? If anything, she should have been gradually making a course to the southward of the intended track as the local Magnetic Variation reduced.
What is the tolerance zone for "right on the track"? You are native speakers, I am not. But based on my stomach feelings I should say if the star position is found one or three miles south of the track after a run of 170 miles after the last fix this is a fairly good result, the term "right on the track" still may be used.

Boxhall's CQD has been calculated either with course 265 or 266. It is located one mile south of the track. That means, the 7-30-or-40 position must have been 1 mile south of the track if calculated with 265°, or 2.5 miles south of the track if calculated with 266°.
This is just the first uncertainty. The second uncertainty arises by the error of Boxhall's CQD. If only he made a speed or time error, the correct CQD would be one mile south of the track, but if he switched the 42/48 columns in the traverse tables the latitude would be the same, the longitude would be 50-00, the correct CQD would be 2 miles south of the track. Smith's wrong CQD is 2 miles south of the track! At least these two would coroborate then!
Thus we have four possibilities to relocate the 7-30-or-40 Position:
1 / 2.5 / 2 / 3.5 miles south of the track.

The 265/266 uncertainty:
Pitman said in USA "South 84 or 86 west would be the true course we were making after 5.50; south 84 or 86, I am not quite certain which, was the true Course...
May be we can take this as evidence for 266. He knew they were 1 degree deviating from the prescribed course, he just could not remember which side. What bothers me however is Boxhall:
15671. The effect would be she would have run a little bit further on the old course and then on the new course she is gradually making back to the line?
- That is my impression of the idea which Captain Smith had in altering that course and setting it to that time."

He explained immediately before that 265 was the prescribed course, and 266 instead was steered to compensate the late turn.
This was his "Impression".
But was this "Impression" based on a calculation "afterwards" to find a turning Point at 5.50 which would match his wrong CQD Position?

Such turning point could have been:
41-55:30 N 47-10:30 West
Distance to 41-46 N 50-14 W: 137 miles; Course 86°
Speed with/without clock retarded: 21,3 / 23,5 knots
The way it was done, Markus was that if Smith thought his ship would make the same 546 miles distance between Noon April 14./15 as she made between Noon April 13/14, he would first have subtract from 546, the number of miles he had to run from Noon to The Corner...47-00'West. By calculation, that amount was 124 miles. the resultant would be 546 -124= 422 miles to run from 5-50 pm until Noon the next day on a course of 265 True. Over that distance, Titanic would change her longitude by 9 degrees 26 minutes giving her a DR Longitude of 56-26' west at Noon April 15. That longitude is 3 hours 46 minutes SLOW of GMT.
Since the longitude at Noon April 14 was 2 hours 58 minutes SLOW of GMT then. if Titanic did cover a total of 546 miles, the clocks would have required to have been altered 48 minutes, not 47 minutes. However, since Captain Smith ordered the clocks to be adjusted by 47 minutes, he must have expected to increase his westerly longitude by 9 degrees 11 minutes, not 9 degrees 26 minutes. 15 minutes of longitude in latitude 42 north on a course of 265 True equates to a distance of 11 miles, so in fact, Captain Smith did not expect to cover more than 534 miles between Noon April 14 and Noon APRIL 15.

As for the expression "Right on the Track". That is exactly what was meant. There was no tolerance. It was all done by calculation and not plotted on a chart.
Here's how: Since the Track was 264.75 True from The Corner at 42-00'North, 47-00' West, if the calculated bearing of the corner form a fixed position was North 084.75 East True, then that position was "Right on the line" (yes, Sam, I did notice in that last post... told you I can't count.)

I agree with you that Boxhall's course of 266 True could only have been from a DR position which was southward of The Corner, thus confirming his belief that Titanic had over-shot it before she turned. He made the mistake of thinking the ship passed exactly through the planned turning point...I do not believe that it did.
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
Pitman stated that the 7-30 pm sights put her 'right on the line'.
Pitman also stated that the vessel ran over 10 miles beyond where she should have turned at 5:50pm. He also said that the speed of the vessel had been increased continually since departing Queenstown by only 1 knot, from 20.5 to 21.5. Here's the exchange:

Senator FLETCHER. How much had you increased your speed Sunday night.
Mr. PITMAN. To 21 1/2 knots.
Senator FLETCHER. What increase was that over the speed you had been making prior to that?
Mr. PITMAN. Only about a knot.
Senator FLETCHER. You had been making about 20 1/2?
Mr. PITMAN. Yes, 20 1/4 and 20 1/2 first, after we left Queenstown.
Senator FLETCHER. How long did that continue?
Mr. PITMAN. The next day, 21.
Senator FLETCHER. And you kept increasing up to 21 1/2, so that at the time the iceberg was struck you were traveling at the highest rate of speed at which you had been going during the trip?
Mr. PITMAN. Oh, no; the same speed we had been traveling for the last 24 hours.
Senator FLETCHER. The same speed?
Mr. PITMAN. The same speed.

Yet Pitman knew full well that the vessel made over 22 knots from noon Saturday to noon Sunday. In fact, the memorandum that he later handed over to Sen. Smith clearly shows this despite a number of numerical errors in it.

Lowe's evidence tells us that Titanic ran 122.2 miles from Noon until she turned at 8-48 GMT. The evidence tells us that the intended course for The Corner was 240.5 True. However, it also tells us that Titanic lost 1.1 knots of speed between Noon and 8-48 pm GMT, the time of turn. We have evidence that the engine revolutions remained the same post Noon. Consequently the only other reason for the slow down was a head current of 1.1 knots.
Once again, the log is not effected by current, it measures distance traveled through water. I quote what you said Jim: "Current does not significantly effect the Patent Log." If the ship really faced a 1.1 knot head current, and her speed made good was only 21 knots, then her speed through the water would have been 22.1 knots, and in 6 hours the log would have registered 132.6 miles.
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
The times that Rowe gave at the inquiries fits right in if you consider that he was going by the time that he would have set on his watch. His duty time began at 8pm. His watch would been set, like everyone else, to April 14th ship's time. Unless told otherwise, he knew that clock was to be put back about 23 minutes during his watch close to midnight, and his relief was expected to show up about 22 minutes later, when his adjusted timepiece would show 12:00 again. In his letter to Kamuda, Rowe stated that the ship struck at 11:40 and his relief was expected at 12:22. Clearly, these are unadjusted times. That's a period of 42 minutes between collision and start of April 15th on board the vessel. We were also told by Rowe (and Bright) that his relief failed to show up on time, which should have been at 12:00 adjusted time. Rowe stated at the inquiries that called the bridge at 25 after 12 to report a boat in the water. The order to first load the boats was given about 45 minutes after the collision. We have that from multiple sources including several passengers, AB Poingdestre and 2/O Lightoller. The first boat loaded and put down to the water was No. 7, followed about 5 minutes later by No. 5. The first rocket was sent up while the next boat, No. 3, was being loaded. Assuming 15 minutes to load the boat and 5 minutes to lower it safely 60 feet, we have about 20 minutes go by since the order to load the boats was given when boat No. 7 reached the water by the side of the vessel. Then it had to pull away far enough to actually be seen by someone standing at the rail on the poop deck. My guess, even if it was not said, was that it was the flash of a socket signal that allowed Rowe to see that boat in the water on the starboard beam, especially one that was launched several hundreds of feet away from where he was in the dark of night. Using time on his adjusted watch, it would have been close to 12:25. Also, keep in mind that Rowe said he was ordered to go away in collapsible C about 1:25, and that the ship sank about 20 minutes after his boat finally reached the water, which he said took about 5 minutes to lower. Assuming his boat reached the water by 1:40 using his adjusted time piece, we have the ship foundering close to 2am by his time, which would correspond to about 2:20 unadjusted time.

Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
He must have obtained a fix before 8 pm because he also said the ship was right on the track.
I do not believe he obtained a fix before handing off the problem to Boxhall to complete. I do believe he did the preliminary work like calculating the DR for the time of the fix, correcting all the observations for sextant index error, dip and refraction. Correcting the chronometer time by its loss or gain rate. Things like that. I believe he left the actual working out of the LOPs for Boxhall to do.
he also said the ship was right on the track
Yes Pitman said that. But I do not believe he was trying to be very precise about where the ship was. By the way, although he mentioned that he thought the ship should have turned at 5pm at one point, at another point he said (15215) "I thought she had gone for three-quarters of an hour longer on that course than she should have done." Working that back from 5:50pm places the vessel by the corner at 5:05pm. More waffling! And as we both know when he said "I considered we went at least 10 miles further south than was necessary," that would place the vessel near the corner as late as 5:22pm, or thereabouts. He was shooting from the hip as they say.

Nov 26, 2016
David, your post #155
Captain Smith's CQD position's longitude is within reason the ship's predicted midnight longitude and not the longitude where Titanic lay sinking. Why? Boxhall said he computed his "improved" CQD position from scratch. If so, it should lie on the ship's dead reckoning track, but instead it's on a line from Smith's CQD position of three points to the south. Why? Boxhall's CQD coordinates are also precisely 20 minutes of steaming at 22 knots from Captain Smith's coordinates. Why?

My understanding of the coordinates of the south track is: 4 minutes of arc to south per 1 degree West, so we get
42-00 N, 47-00 W; 42-48 N, 50-00 W; 42-47 N, 50-15 W; 42-46 N, 50-30 W;

Smith' CDQ is two miles south of the track. Boxhall's CQD is 1 mile south of the track. For me the most likely explanation for Boxhall's error is given by Dave Gittins, reading the wrong column in the traverse table. This error affects the latitude, not the longitude. Correcting this position would shift it to east on 41-46 N 50-00 W. This one is 2 miles south of the track.
The intention was to go on the track. If the CQDs are 2 miles south, the 7-30 star-position probably was 2 miles south of the track as well. Pitman said in the USA, right on the track. I am not a saylor by profession, I got my Knowledge from books, but I think if a ship miss the track just by 2 miles after 160 miles, this is a pretty good result.
If Dave Gittins theory does not apply, another reason could be simpling rounding Errors. Smith found 41-44.4 and rounded down to 41-44, Boxhall found 41-45.6 and rounded up to 41-46. Very simple, nobody intended to do something bad.

You said, To me, it all adds up to a carefully mis-told story designed to hide the truth rather than illuminate it.
My Point of view about this CQD positions, no one is to be blamed for hiding something or mistelling.

We know, Titanic steamed one or 2 miles south of the track, with 21.5 .... 22.5 knots.
We all, myself included, are in some way lovable crazy, stubborn determined to reconstruct Speed and Course.
Main Problem seems to be that clock alteration.
It is a minor Problem, it does not matter at all to understand what "really" happened.
I do not exspect any great mystery to be solved, I simply want to have the figures well and consistent arranged.
Nov 26, 2016
About the Speed discussion, 21.5 or 22 knots:
Olympic made on her maiden voyage daily runs of 428, 534, 542, 525 and 548 miles.
The third day' s run was 542 miles according 21.85 knots, the 4th day's run was 525 miles according 21,17 knots,
elapsed time estimated 24,8 hrs.

I don't know the revolutions, but I assume they kept the test conditions similar to have comparable results.
So the revolutions were not changed from day 3 to day 4.
That means, with 75 rpm the ship can travel at 21.2 or 21.8 knots, depending on wind or currents.
So if asked, at what Speed Titanic was going at sunday night, the can say anything between 21.2 and 21.8
Even if they knew that Titanic averaged 22 knots from Saturday to sunday noon, the can give a mean speed typical for 75 rpm, this might be 21,5 knots.
Boxhall was in the Situation to get the CDQ as accurate as possible, so he did not take the Standard mean 75 rpm Speed,
instead he used 22 knots.

Senator FLETCHER. And you kept increasing up to 21 1/2, so that at the time the iceberg was struck you were traveling at the highest rate of speed at which you had been going during the trip?
Mr. PITMAN. Oh, no; the same speed we had been traveling for the last 24 hours.

Pitman is refering to the average Speed found with 75 rpm. Pitman did not make the CQD calculation. When asked about the speed at sunday night, he gave the 75 rpm average speed. Boxhall said 22 knots, so again, the officers did not hide something about Speed.
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
But I do think there were some deliberate efforts to confuse what actually took place that night in order to hide some unpleasant truths.
I think there were some deliberate efforts to protect oneself from being blamed for one thing or another. The seeing "haze" thing from the nest being an obvious example. But when it comes to a deliberate effort to hide something, usually that manifests itself in inconsistencies in people's testimonies, or when different people say exactly the same thing almost word for word. That's why you cannot simply trust what people say without a way to verify it somehow.
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
42-00 N, 47-00 W; 42-48 N, 50-00 W; 42-47 N, 50-15 W; 42-46 N, 50-30 W.
Markus, I believe you meant to write: 42-00 N, 47-00 W; 41-48 N, 50-00 W; 41-47 N, 50-15 W; 41-46 N, 50-30 W in post 158 above.

Pitman is refering to the average Speed found with 75 rpm.
The revolutions were first increased to 75 at noon Saturday. The average speed found with 75 rpm was 22.1 knots over the run from noon Saturday to noon Sunday.

To me it is very clear that those navigating Titanic knew that she was averaging 22 knots not 21.5 carrying 75 rpm. The proof has to do with the expected position of local apparent noon on 15 April. At noon on 14 April the ship was close to longitude 44° 30'W at 14:58 GMT. We were told that the clocks were to go back 47 minutes that night so they would show 12:00 the next day at noon. That means the expected time of local apparent noon on 15 April would have been 15:45 GMT, and the change in longitude from noon 14 April to noon 15 April would have been 11° 45' westward. Thus they would expect the vessel be close to a longitude of 56° 15'W longitude on 15 April.

We know that Capt. Smith set the time to turn the corner at 5:50pm, 20:48 GMT. So how fast did they expect the ship to make so as to reach a longitude of 56° 15'W at noon the next day which would occur 18h 57m after turning the corner? If the ship was traveling at 21.5 knots, it would go only 407.4 miles from passing 47°W and reach a longitude of 56° 04'W. However, at 22 knots, it would go 416.9 miles at reach a longitude of 56° 16'W.

At 56° 04'W, LAN on 15 April occurred at 15:44 GMT, only 46 minutes later than the previous day; while at 56° 16'W, LAN on 15 April occurred at 15:45 GMT, exactly 47 minutes later than the previous day. So a speed of 21.5 knots does not account for the 47 minute planned clock change, while a speed of 22 knots does. Clearly, when the planned clock change was determined, a speed of 22 knots after the 5:50pm course change was assumed, not 21.5.


I think having the benefit of a third party present is a great way to distinguish the truth from supposition. If the Californian was observing the Titanic then their testimony would certainly clarify the time and position the Titanic was at various times when they saw her turn north towards them and stop. It gives us a picture of what was happening on the Titanic before the order was called to abandon ship. I wonder if they were trying to steam towards the Californian and the CQD position they gave was perhaps the position they were intending to steam towards but they had to stop because the water was rapidly coming in, or quite possibly (according to reports) they encountered another iceberg in their path.

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Jim Currie

Apr 16, 2008
Funchal. Madeira
Hello my friends! As you might have anticipated; just a few reminders concerning your posts.

1. Titanic was not on the prescribed track at Noon on April 14, she was to the south and eastward of it. That's why she altered course to 240.5 True at that aim directly for The Corner.

At Noon on April, 14, Captain Smith would have analysed his previous day's run and decided why his ship averaged 22.1 knots at 75 rpm rather than the expected 21.5 knots. He would have credited his extra half knot and his set to the south of the line to the brisk wind blowing from abaft his starboard beam during the period, not to the North Atlantic Current. Lack of head sea and swell together with the four giant funnels acting as sails would easily have added half a knot to the speed.

3. Titanic
was not anywhere near the North Atlantic Current during the period Noon April 13 to Noon April 14. In fact, in the middle of that period, the southern boundary of the current would have been close to 180 miles to the North of her track.

4. Titanic encountered the North Atlantic Current from about 44-30'West to about 47-45'West. Thereafter, the wind dropped to zero and the sea and swell also reduced to zero. After then, she achieved her optimum speed of 22.5 knots while running with her main engines at 75 rpm.

5. The Patent Log would have had an almost zero error. It was brand new and would have been carefully calibrated and set for Titanic's maximum expected draft and speed by either the ship's officers or more than likely, the suppliers. This would have been done during the voyage from Belfast to Southampton. During that part of the voyage, they were always well within sight of land and shore based navigation marks so could obtain perfect position fixes. They could also determine the performance when effected by the very strong, variable direction tidal currents along the entire route.

6. On ocean passage, only the Noon positions would be marked on the chart. All other positions obtained by celestial observations would be marked in Work Books.
Since Titanic had dedicated navigating officers, the use of the Traverse Table would have been very rare. Preference being given to working courses and distances between positions using The Sailings methods. Mental arithmetic would seldom be used. Lightoller used it to guess when Titanic would be up to the ice. He would simply have used a round figure of 30 minutes of longitude change every hour.

7. The time of when Titanic turned The Corner has nothing to do with Boxhall's distress position. Not unless we wish to completely reject every bit of evidence he gave on the subject.

Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
A bunch of definitive sounding statements, but let's look at some realities, especially when and where the ship would encounter the North Atlantic current which is an extension of the Gulf Stream.

For years now, the meanderings of the Gulf Stream and other currents has been tracked by radar imagery from satellites. This allows us to compare what conditions are on a per day basis, and to compare changes for a particular date, such as 14 April, from year to year. A good example is the picture from April 14, 2005 shown below, upon which I overlaid Titanic's course from 1912, including her position at noon 14 April 1912, the position of the corner, and the position of the wreck site, the Nantucket Shoals LV, and the Ambrose channel LV. Note, the color codes on these satellite images are water velocities, NOT temperatures. (The scale in meters per second is shown right below the chart. 1 m/s = 1.94 knots.)
Apr 2005.jpg

Expanded view of the corner area is shown in the next image.

If the current was in April 1912 as it was in April 2005, then we easily can see why the ship could have been set to the SE of the GC track line prior to reaching local apparent noon (LAN) on the 14th. The run toward the corner from the noon position would have encountered only a small current component (~0.2 m/s) off the port beam about half way down to the corner, setting the vessel slightly toward the NNW, and essentially zero current in the vicinity of the corner and beyond to the wreck site location. With a wind out of the north during the run to the corner, it would be off the vessel's starboard quarter which would tend to push the vessel opposite to the direction of the current. The forward progress of the vessel would not slow down as one might otherwise expect from looking at pilot chart averages.

Jim Currie

Apr 16, 2008
Funchal. Madeira
Hello Sam,

The statements are 'definitive' because they are based on a careful examination of the evidence of those who were actually there or who have been there and experienced the same conditions. They are not an attempt to discount any fact- based counter arguments or arguments based on academic supposition.

I am very much aware of the satellite imagery in your illustration, Sam. It shows a counter-clockwise gyre in the area of interest but has little bearing on the argument. We are discussing a major transporter here. One that every sailor, including yours truly who has been on the new York Run, knows like an old friend. Believe me when I tell you, the only appreciable impediment to westward progress east of 44 West is the itself and/or by wind-generated surface current.

I take it you completely repudiate the evidence of Captain Charles Johnston, in command of the revenue cutter "Seneca", which went out on the so called ice patrol off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and covered the very area we are discussing? At the Limitation of Liability hearings, he stated:

"Q. And when the berg get into the Gulf Stream , its tendency is to move in what direction under ordinary conditions, quiet conditions of water, ordinary conditions of water? - East between, longitudes 50 and 49, then rapidly curving to the north."

Or perhaps this learned paper on the subject?
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
If the Californian was observing the Titanic then their testimony would certainly clarify the time and position the Titanic was at various times when they saw her turn north towards them and stop.
The problem Aaron is that there are a number of people who believe that Californian never saw Titanic, and vise versa. You know, its the claim that there were at least two mystery ships on the scene, one which Californian observed, and the other which Titanic observed. Then there is the time of events that were scene. 3/O Groves said that he went down to speak to Capt. Lord around 11:30 (Californian time) after seeing this steamer come up from abaft their starboard beam. By 11:40 their time, Groves noted that the steamer was stopped. In other words, the bearing to the steamer did not change and was then almost right on the starboard beam. Capt. Lord would only say that he noticed this steamer had stopped about 11:30pm. Both Groves and Lord saw this steamer together around 11:45 when Lord came up to the upper bridge himself to have a closer look. Later, around 12:45, 2/O stone saw his 1st of 8 white rockets, the last of which Stone estimated was around 1:40am. The lights of this steamer disappeared from view at 2:05am by the wheelhouse clock according to Apprentice Gibson, who witness the last 3 of those 8 rockets along with Stone. About 3:20am the 1st of 3 additional rockets were seen by Stone and Gibson, but no ship could be seen.

Californian clocks were 3 hours and 10 minutes behind GMT, or 1 hour 50 minutes ahead of mean time in NY. Unaltered Titanic time for April 14th was 2 hours 58 minutes behind GMT, or 2 hours and 2 minutes ahead of NY. That means that time on Titanic was 12 minutes ahead of Californian time.

Converting Californian times from above to Titanic times, we have:
Steamer seen approaching from abaft Californian's beam about 11:42pm
Steamer not moving by 11:52pm
Lord and Grove looking at steamer together from upper bridge at 11:57pm
1st rocket seen by Stone about 12:57pm
Last rocket seen by Stone about 1:52am
Lights of steamer disappear 2:17am based on Californian's wheelhouse clock time of 2:05.
1st of 3 additional rockets seen at 3:32am

Have fun with it.

George Jacub

Sep 28, 2005
Is it not obvious to you yet that Pitman and Boxhall were using a different time reference than Rowe?
What's obvious is that the man firing the rockets said he sent off the last rocket at about 1:25 a.m. and an independent observer on a nearby ship saw the last rocket zoom into the sky at 1:23 a.m. Titanic time, confirming that New York was one hour and thirty-three minutes ahead of time on the Titanic.
The fatal problem with saying the last rocket went up at 1:50 a.m. Titanic time is that this translates to 2:07 Californian time, seven minutes AFTER Officer Stone sent a crewman to tell his Captain that he had seen a ship firing rockets, a display that, he testified, ENDED 20 MINUTES EARLIER.
Nov 26, 2016
In reading all the above I see 5:50 p.m. as the time of turning The Corner. Indeed, Boxhall did say that. However, the man who actually made the turn was quartermaster Rowe at the helm. In British questions 17591 and 17592 he said, "We always make a practice of what we call rounding the corner, and the man at the wheel generally takes notice of it." When asked if he remembered that time, Rowe said, "Yes, 5:45."

My idea about the difference of five minutes:
When the ship turns it will not flip by 25 degrees, instead it will turn by steering a smooth curve.
Assumed the curve has a length of two miles, we need 6 minutes for the turn.
Supposed 5.50 was the time calculated to reach the 42/47 Position, the turn should start three minutes before 5.50.

Maybe, Rowe remembers 5.45 as the time he turned the wheel. This was a few minutes before passing the Corner.
He had to turn it amidships before the curve was finished, as the ship will finish the turn by its moment of inertia.

There is not necessarily a contradiction between 5.45 and 5.50.
5.50 is the mathematical result of calculation, but the realization in practice starts at 5.45.

Scott Mills

Jul 10, 2008
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Markus -- You and I and all the members of this board are children of a later age. We view the past through the eyes of today. This makes it difficult to see things in historical context. Example: On another thread the “women and children first” ideal has been condemned as “sexist.” Perhaps it is in the 2016 moral and social climate. But, our modern view of women would be viewed as almost barbarian by many of the “fair sex” in 1912. Who is right? The Edwardians? Modern progressives? I think you see my point.
David, don't be a postmodernist. :D If we believe in the dialectic of Enlightenment, at least the good parts of it (I suggest staying away from Horkheimer and Adorno's seminal work, unless you want to become very depressed about the future of the human race), then of course our current age is "more correct." This is because, in almost a Hegelian sense, progress means that the extension of the ideals of Enlightenment grows broader as we realize that the application of the rights of human beings actually applies to all human beings.

To deny this is to deny the metanarrative generally, which places you in an uneasy position of being unable to also say things like, the ideas of race and European superiority that drove the European colonial project were, and are, wrong. Instead you are stuck with saying that these ideas are just different, but equally valid, to our current understanding.

Philosophy, the Social Sciences, and History cannot, as disciplines of study, disarm themselves by taking away their ability to level a critique of the ideas of the past and remain relevant to their task of shining their revelatory light on the world.