How Far South did the Titanic Reach?

Nov 26, 2016
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I just put this comment in the longitude-time-thread, find more details there.
So I am afraid we have to chose one of these two possibilities:
1. clock not set back, CQD transmitted 47 minutes after collision
2. clock set back, CQD transmitted 23(24) minutes after collision
 

B-rad

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Mr. HOGG: I should say that I never thought she was going to sink. I went to relieve the lookout 20 minutes after accident. I thought she was not going down.
 

Jim Currie

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Ah well!
"Moses supposes his toeses are Roses,
But Moses supposes Erroneously,
Moses he knowses his toeses aren't roses,
As Moses supposes his toeses to be!
Moses supposes his toeses are Roses,
But Moses supposes Erroneously,":rolleyes:
 

George Jacub

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To Sam:

That means the order for "All hands on the boat deck" came about 20 minutes after the collision, about the same time that Boxhall called on the off duty officers.
1.. No, it doesn't. I've cited the evidence showing the boatswain piped "all hands on deck" at 10 minutes to midnight, and that five minutes later the assembled crew were getting the order to clear the boats.
Symons' testimony only reinforces the narrative that I posted. He told the British Inquiry that the boatswain warned him about "quarter to twelve" to standby as he might be needed. That corresponds with the time that the bosun would have been headed to the boat deck after learning the ship had hit an iceberg and the captain was anxiously waiting a report from the carpenter. Symons said he was on his way to the boat deck when eight bells was struck in the crows nest. This was either still in response to the boatswain's call or after getting the order to clear the boats---both coming before midnight (your 20 minutes after the collision.)

2. "What I am convinced about is that the first CQD was transmitted about 25 minutes after the deck crew were seen first going to the boat deck to uncover the boats. All hands were called just a few minutes prior to that."

Marconi operator Harold Bride said (New York Times) that the first time the Captain popped into the wireless room he told the operators to be ready to send a distress call, but to wait for further instructions as he was having an inspection done of the damage to the ship and would get back to them. That obviously referred to the inspection being done by the carpenter. Bride said that 10 minutes later the Captain returned and told the operators to make the CQD call. By 10 minutes to midnight, based on the boatswain's call-up of the deck crew, the Captain had his answers and had ordered emergency measures (boats to be cleared, distress messages sent, gangway doors to be opened, ladders to be fetched, etc.) The first CQD was heard at 11:58 p.m. Sunday night, Titanic time, when, to quote Bride, "We could hear a terrible confusion outside…"

To Jim:

3. "Pitman said that when Boxhall called him it was within a few minutes of him (Pitman) being due on Watch, Pitman was due on Watch at 12-24 am April 14 time. If nothing had happened, then when Pitman went onto the bridge to start work, the time on the bridge clock would have been Midnight, not 12-24 am"

Sorry, JIm, but I'm not sure of what point you're trying to make?

4."If you are going to use the reference of 8 bells then there had to have been a time change. They would most certainly not sound 8 bells until the end of April 14th which was to be 24 hours and 46 minutes long."

Why not? Sunday midnight was still Sunday midnight regardless of when the clock was supposed to be moved back later in the night.
 

Jim Currie

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To Jim:

3. "Pitman said that when Boxhall called him it was within a few minutes of him (Pitman) being due on Watch, Pitman was due on Watch at 12-24 am April 14 time. If nothing had happened, then when Pitman went onto the bridge to start work, the time on the bridge clock would have been Midnight, not 12-24 am"

Sorry, JIm, but I'm not sure of what point you're trying to make?

Simply that Pitman would never have made that observation if Boxhall had called him early or late. His remark is proof-positive that a partial clock chnage had taken place before he was called.
 

Jim Currie

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Exactly. He was going by the clock in the mess room.
Fleet and Lee stated that their watch was nearly over when the impact came, that they were to do extra time and that they served the fullness of their Watch and were relived 20 minutes after impact. They clearly said so in the evidence.
Started to get ready for Watch at 1 bell and relieved Fleet an Lee. The former lifted the back cover and saw the passengers gathering on the boat deck.
 
Nov 26, 2016
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Two points I would like to put up for discussion within this thread:

Firstly, What is the correct course of the southerly route between the corner and Nantucket lightship?
Secondly, what course did Titanic steer after she turned at the corner? 265° or 266°?

1. The southerly route:
4th Officer Boxhall said in the British inquiry:
15666. We have all noticed there is a point on the course, as marked on the chart, where a westbound ship turns, what you call the corner, is that what you refer to as 42 N. 47 W.? - That is so.
15667. And then your view is that the ship, when she turned on her new course at 5.50 had run beyond that corner? - Yes.
15668. And, therefore, was to the south of it? - Yes, to the south and to the westward of it.
15669. Then when she is put on her new course, her new course you tell me was S. 86 W.? - S. 86. W.
15670. Though your impression is that as it is marked on the chart the course there marked is S. 86 W.? - I think it is about S. 84 3/4 W. as a matter of fact.

An upto date chart [2670, Cape Breton to Delaware Bay] indicates the position 40°30'N 69°26 W.
The track for Westbound vessels is marked at 40°34' N. (chart attached)
Based on historical information we find:
Keeping Track of a Maiden Voyage
Following the Olympic’s second voyage of 1911, we will take this point to be about 2 miles south of the Nantucket Shoals light vessel. The light vessel itself was listed in the US Coast Pilot Part III for 1912 at 40° 37’ 05’’ N, 69° 36’ 33’’ W.

40°35' N comes close to the course recommended in chart 2670.
Course from Corner to 69°37' W, 40°35' N: South 85.23 West (decimal), this is 85 1/4.
Boxhall said: I think it is about S. 84 3/4 W. as a matter of fact.
The appropriate position of the Nantucket lightship would be 40°26' N 69°37 W, nine miles to south.
Practically the course to be steered would be 85° (265°), as no helmsman will be able to steer quarters of a degree.
In that case the latitude would change 3.9 minutes of arc to south per one degree longitude at latitude 42° N.
Based on historical and up to date information the course would be 85 1/4, but Boxhall explicitly declared that the course was 84 3/4, a quarter below 85.
Any ideas how Boxhall arrived at 84 3/4?

2. Titanic's course after the Corner.
Senator FLETCHER. How many degrees did you change ? - Mr. PITMAN. I can not remember.
If I had a chart here I could tell you in a minute. 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.

Lightoller said in British enquiry:
13498. Can you tell us what was the course of the ship when she was handed over to you at 6? - I cannot remember the compass course. I know from calculations made afterwards that we were making S. 86 true.
13499. S. 86 W.? - Yes.
13500. That is within four degrees of due w. true? - Yes.

Boxhall comes up with the late turn at the corner:
15659. You would have to take the speed and of course you would have to take the course? - Yes.
15660. Which you have told us was S. 86 W.? - Yes.
15661. Am I right in thinking that the course as marked on the chart is S. 85 W. when you take your turn. I believe it is about S. 85 W.? - Yes.
15662. So that as I follow, the "Titanic" had run on, you say for 50 minutes longer than she otherwise would? - Did I say that?
15663. I thought you said 5.50? - I have not said that so far, but I wish to say it now. I wish to explain it. The night order book was written out and there was an order for the course to be altered at 5.50.
15664. You saw that in the order book? - Yes, I saw it and I remarked to the Chief Officer between 4 o'clock and 6 o'clock that I considered the course ought to have been altered some considerable time before 5.50 - that is, if it was meant to be altered at the corner, 42 N., 47 W. Whether we spoke to the Captain about it or not I do not know. I just remarked that to the Chief Officer, and the course was altered at 5.50. I consider that the ship was away to the southward and to the westward of that 42 N. 47 W. position when the course was altered.
15665. Perhaps you will take the chart in your hand. I want to ask you a question or two about it? - Yes.
(The chart was handed to the witness.)
15666. We have all noticed there is a point on the course, as marked on the chart, where a westbound ship turns, what you call the corner,
is that what you refer to as 42 N. 47 W.? - That is so.
15667. And then your view is that the ship, when she turned on her new course at 5.50 had run beyond that corner? - Yes.
15668. And, therefore, was to the south of it? - Yes, to the south and to the westward of it.
15669. Then when she is put on her new course, her new course you tell me was S. 86 W.? - S. 86. W.
15670. Though your impression is that as it is marked on the chart the course there marked is S. 86 W.? - I think it is about S. 84 3/4 W. as a matter of fact.
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.

From Boxhall we learn that the proper course would have been 85° (265°), but to compensate the late turn they steered 86° (266°) instead.

From Pitman in USA we learn that no late turn has taken place at all:
Mr. PITMAN. We just took a set of them at sunset, or just as it was getting dusk, when the stars were visible. It was about 6 or 8 o'clock that we took them.
Senator SMITH. Do you know how these observations located the ship?
Mr. PITMAN. Do I know what?
Senator SMITH. Do you know how these observations located the ship?
Mr. PITMAN. Yes; right on the track.
...
Senator SMITH. Were you going straight away on a straight course when you took these observations?
Mr. PITMAN. Yes, sir; exactly.
Senator SMITH. Or did you have a course of speed that took you in a curved direction?
Mr. PITMAN. No; we were proceeding on the track laid down for the company.
...
Senator FLETCHER. And then you changed to this northerly course?
Mr. PITMAN. No. We stuck to the track we were supposed to follow from the 14th of January to the 14th of August, just as agreed upon by the big steamship companies.

Conclusion drawn from statements summarized above:
It was intended to go at 85° (265°) after the corner. Pitman's testimony in US confirms they were on the official track, and the course for that would be 85° (265°), or even a bit less, 84 3/4.

Lightoller said: "I know from calculations made afterwards that we were making S. 86 true".

This question may be asked, afterwards what?
After taking the 7-30 star position and compass checks during Sunday night, of after end of the US enquiry while travelling back to England?
Again Mr. 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.

But we will se that 86° is not sufficient, they should have much rather changed to 88° (268°):

Pitman in British enquiry:
15174. And, so far as you know, was the steamer's course deflected at all from the course that had been marked out at noon; did it vary to the south, or in any way from the course which had been marked out at noon? - Yes, I considered we went at least 10 miles further south than was necessary.
15175. Do I understand you rightly that in marking the course at noon, the course was marked 10 miles further south than you considered necessary? - No. We had a certain distance to run to a corner, from noon to certain time, and we did not alter the course so early as I anticipated. Therefore we must have gone much further south.
....
15182. But you say he gave instructions to alter the course of the ship? - The course was altered at 5.50. They were the Commander's orders.
15183. Ten miles further south. Was any record made of that at the time? - No, and I thought that the Course should have been altered at 5 p.m.

We take this literally. 50 minutes, 22 knots, 18.3 miles at course 260° beyond the corner will end up 9 miles to south and 15.9 miles - 21 minutes of arc to west of the corner.
The hypothetical turning point derived from Pitman's statement would be 41°51 N, 47°21' W.
The course from there to arrive at Boxhall's CQD position would be 87.78 degrees, 88° or 268°.
The course 86° does not even make sense if really a late turn would have taken them to south as Pitman and Boxhall claimed.
The CQD positions as calculated by Captain Smith an Boxhall are just one respectivly two miles south of the track:
Points of the track and CQD positions relating to track:
42-00 N 47-00 W;
41-56 N 48-00 W;
41-52 N 49-00 W;
41-48 N 50-00 W;
41-47 N 50-15 W; <-- 41-46 N 50-14 W; Boxhall, 1 mile to south
41-46 N 50-30 W; <-- 41-44 N 50-24 W; Smith, 2 miles to south
41-44 N 51-00 W;

Considering all this I come to the conclusion that course 86° was neither steered nor used for any calculations.
When they turned the corner they intended to go on the track at 85° (265°).
The 7-30 stellar position probably was found 1 or 2 miles to the south of the track. This finding is not sufficient to reason that the true course was 86° (266°) instead of 85° (265°).

The 86° figure is part of that fictional late turn story. Attempts to reconstruct the 7-30 position should be made by working backward from the CQD positions with course 85° (265°).
 

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Mar 22, 2003
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Markus, I don't believe the S86W course was a fiction made up to account for the ship being south and west of the corner when it turned.

15315. Between 4 and 6, while you were on watch do you remember the course being altered? - The course was altered at 5.50.
15316. Do you remember what it was altered to? - I do not remember the compass course, but I remember the true course was S. 86 W.
15317. I think you worked that out yourself? - Yes, I had stellar observations afterwards.

As Lightoller said, it was later when he found out that the course was S86W true. I believe that was after Boxhall had worked out the compass error when he finished taking stellar bearings.
Boxhall thought that the charted course from the corner was S84.75°W true. Whatever the intended true course was, the ship was actually steered by reference to the standard compass. The standard compass course was set to account for magnetic variation and compass deviation, and then put down on the compass board to the nearest degree. The ship was then steadied on that course and the steering compass course put on the course board for the helmsman to use. Easily, the true course being followed might be off a little either way when all factors are considered, including the change in variation over a period of time as the vessel sailed westward. That variation change would mean that the true course she was on would also change unless the compass course they steered by took that into account until the next course change.

Anyway, as point of reference for whatever its worth, using that Olympic Voyage 8 data, on day 3 at noon the vessel was 104 miles before the corner, and on day 4 at noon she was 458 miles beyond the corner. The course made good, assuming she turned the corner at the corner point, comes out to 264.4° true on my distance-course spreadsheet.

As far as Boxhall not telling the truth, as you know he would not say how late he thought the ship turned the corner. If you work back from his CQD position and include a 14' of error in longitude, you come to a DR alter-course point that is about 5.5 miles SW of the corner. That's a run of about 15 minutes at 22 knots from the corner. Would Boxhall consider a turn 15 minutes late to be a "considerable time" later? That only he can answer. But from what he did say, unless he was outright telling a lie, is that the ship was away the south and west of the corner when the turn was made. And as I showed on that other thread, an error of 14' in longitude equates to an error of 29 minutes in time, and the 3h 27m difference between ship's time and GMT.
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Markus.

The pre-scribed route from The Corner to Nantucket, thence to Ambrose Channel Light Vessel was 265. The calculated route was 264.75 True. It was and still is impossible to maintain a course to that accuracy.

Boxhall stated that he thought the ship turned late...that she had gone past The Corner before she turned at 5-50 pm. 5th Officer Lowe said that Titanic was on a course of about 240.5 True before she turned.
We do not know what speed or distance Boxhall used from Noon April 14 to the turning point but let us assume he used the pre Noon speed of 22 knots. This being the case then he assumed the ship had run a total of about 128.3 miles from Noon on 240.5 true before she finally turned. If the mean distance from Noon to the turn was 125 miles then Boxhall assumed she had over-shot the turning point by 3.3 miles. With these arguments we can estimate where Boxhall thought she was when she did turn.

Turn Point:............. 42-00.0'North........47-00.0'West
3.3 miles x 240.5T........ 1.6'South.............. 3.9'West
Boxhall's turn point 41-58.4'North.......47-03.9'West....
 
Mar 22, 2003
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We do not know what speed or distance Boxhall used from Noon April 14 to the turning point but let us assume he used the pre Noon speed of 22 knots.
Perhaps a line of longitude was taken during the 4-6pm watch that showed the vessel was doing better than expected, and would reach 47°W earlier than 5:50pm? If I'm right, the sun would have been close to due west around 5:30pm, or thereabouts, on that date in the vicinity of the corner.
 

Jim Currie

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Perhaps a line of longitude was taken during the 4-6pm watch that showed the vessel was doing better than expected, and would reach 47°W earlier than 5:50pm? If I'm right, the sun would have been close to due west around 5:30 pm, or thereabouts, on that date in the vicinity of the corner.
If you studied practical navigation theory, you will remember one of the principal lessons.

A Longitude on it's own as a guide to progress is of little use on any course other than East - West or North-South. The only thing that would have been taken when the sun was bearing close to West would have been a bearing amplitude for compass error.

I'm afraid you're stuck with factual evidence, Sam. Just because it doesn't fit with your theory doesn't mean it has to be rejected out of hand.
 
Nov 26, 2016
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Jim, you proposed
Boxhall's turn point 41-58.4'North.......47-03.9'West....
this comes very close to my one for the case 85°, clocks not retarded.

I have worked out a chart with four different routes.
My working Proposition:
collision Point 41-46 N, 49-55 W.
From there i worked back to reconstruct four different 7-40 stellar positions.
85°, clocks not retarded, 22.2 knots 4 hours
86°, clocks not retarded, 22.2 knots 4 hours
85°, clocks retarded, 22 knots 4.4 hours
86°, clocks retarded, 22 knots 4.4 hours
The turning Points were adjusted in that way
that the Speed on the leg from noon to turning Point is 22 knots in case clock was not retarded and 21 knots in case clock was retarded.

About the decision 85 or 86 degrees:
Lowe's 6 pm DR Position was about 2 miles North of the track.
The 7.40 stellar positions must have been 2 miles south of the track with Course 85° or 4 miles south of the track with Course 86°.
If really Boxhall was able to find by compass checks that the true Course was 86°, then the conclusion must be that the star position was 4 miles south of the track.

find attached my Chart.
 

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Mar 22, 2003
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I'm afraid you're stuck with factual evidence, Sam. Just because it doesn't fit with your theory doesn't mean it has to be rejected out of hand.
Yes, good advice which everyone should follow. But the factual evidence in this case, for whatever its worth, is that Boxhall said the ship was to the south and west of the corner when she turned at 5:50pm, and that he informed C/O Wilde that if it was intended to turn at the corner then the ship should have turned "a considerable time" earlier. The question here is how would he know that the ship would turn late unless there was some indication that she was running ahead of her DR. You put out one possibility, and I put out another. But your last post got me thinking. What if a sun line was taken when he came on duty at 16:00 ATS? The DR of the vessel would have advanced about 86 miles from noon on a course to the corner. The azimuth of the sun on that date for that point would have been about 255°T, crossing the ship's course line at a relatively sharp angle of about 15° from the perpendicular. That would certainly tell someone if the ship was running ahead or behind her DR because the ship had to be somewhere on the line of position. I would think that it would be a useful check on the ship's real progress. The picture on a chart would look like this if the ship was running ahead of her DR:
SunLine1600ATS.gif
 
Mar 22, 2003
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The preceding posts got me to think about another outstanding question. Why was the first CQD even further away from now know wreck site? If Capt. Smith had used the position of the 7:30pm fix as his starting point, why have Boxhall repeat the work? Jim, you pointed out that the fix was only pricked off on Smith's chart and the position was not written down. But Smith would have the 8pm DR to start from. Personally, I do not believe the 8pm was 20 miles off as Boxhall said over 50 years later. I would think that something that far off would not have gone unnoticed. 20 miles is an error of almost 29' in longitude, almost 1/2 a degree. So what if Smith realized that the vessel was running somewhat ahead of what he thought she would do from LAN to the corner. Where would that 8pm DR then be?

Assuming the ship's noontime position was at 43° 02'N, 44° 31'W, 126 miles and 240.5°T from the corner. Taking her down on that course for 5h 50m at 22 knots, I come to a DR a/c point at 41° 59'N, 47° 02'W. Then a turn to starboard of 24° (which we get from QM Rowe) and go another 2h 10m at 22 knots on 264.5°T to the 8pm DR point. That I get at 41° 54'N, 48° 06'W; the 8pm starting point for Smith CQD workup. So what happened next?

When Smith went to calculate a distress position he needed three things: The time of collision, the course the ship was making, and the distance from the 8pm DR to the time of collision. The collision we were told was at 11:40pm. To get the distance from the 8pm DR he needed to multiply the speed by the time. Now, what if in his haste to work out the position Smith thought 4h 40m from the DR to the collision instead of the correct 3h 40m? An easy mistake to make under the pressure after being told that the ship would sink in an hour to an hour and a half.
If we assume he used 4h 40m, then the distance comes out to 103 miles from the 8pm DR on 264.5°T. Working this possibility out, and I get to a distress position at 41° 44'N, 50° 23.5'W, which when rounded to whole minutes-of-arc, is 41° 44'N, 50° 24'W, the original CQD position in both latitude and longitude.

Interesting 'What If' game playing. But that's what we are all doing here.
 
Mar 12, 2011
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I suppose the questions is, WAS Titanic running very far ahead of the DR? I think if she was, it can't have been by very far. If the DR assumed a speed made good of 21.5 knots and the actual speed made good was 22 knots, the difference at 16:00 would only be 2 miles. 4 miles if she was actually making 22.5 knots at the time. 2 miles is about 5.5 minutes of steaming at 22 knots, 4 miles is 10.67 minutes of steaming at 22.5 knots. I don't think either of those would count as a "considerable time", do you?
 

Jim Currie

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To answer your post No.276, Sam.

Your chart is wrong. In fact, an azimuth of the sun would be plotted through the DR position and a line drawn at right angles to it through the same position to represent a Position Line. However that too would be very inaccurate.

If observations were taken at 4 pm that afternoon they would have consisted of an Azimuth and a sextant altitude of the sun. These would have produced a True Azimuth an intercept and a position line on which Titanic was located. If a current running at say 1 knots in a ENE direction was suspected, it would have been represented by a line 4 miles long running ENE from the 4 pm DR. The work to do all this would have been done on squared paper. I have amended your chart to show what I mean The current is left out. Substitute an intercept of 4 minutes away.
SunLine1600ATS.gif

Everything added is exaggerated for clarity.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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My intent Jim was to make a point. The point is that at 4pm it would have been possible to obtain a line-of-position (LOP) from a sun sight with the assumption that the LOP was ahead of the ship's DR, therefore showing that the ship would reach the corner somewhat earlier than expected. Going back to my yachting days, my plot may have looked more like the following, on which all times would have been in GMT, little circles used to indicate fixes, DR or AP points, little squares for EPs, and dashed lines for intercepts. Course and speed would be marked as shown on the course
line, and the time of the sight and the sight body marked on the LOP line as shown.
SunLine1600ATS.gif
 

Jim Currie

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My intent Jim was to make a point. The point is that at 4pm it would have been possible to obtain a line-of-position (LOP) from a sun sight with the assumption that the LOP was ahead of the ship's DR, therefore showing that the ship would reach the corner somewhat earlier than expected. Going back to my yachting days, my plot may have looked more like the following, on which all times would have been in GMT, little circles used to indicate fixes, DR or AP points, little squares for EPs, and dashed lines for intercepts. Course and speed would be marked as shown on the course
line, and the time of the sight and the sight body marked on the LOP line as shown.
View attachment 2383

Not the way I was taught or I taught to Apprentices.

The "Assumed" position is the DR position. It is based on all available knowledge, i.e. historic speed or speed by the log, and/or speed by engine rpm with appropriate slip applied....expected or calculated set and drift...course or courses made good since the last known position or DR position.
According to the evidence of 5th Officer Lowe, who was actually there and on Watch at the time; the Patent Log must have read close to 84 miles at 4 pm. The weather conditions and engine speed for the previous 4 hours would have had little effect on the forward progress of the ship. Consequently,when Captain Smith saw the log distance which indicated a speed of 21.0 knots when he would normally expect at least 22 knots, he would immediately know that his ship had encountered the expected...a head current. This would not surprise him since he was virtually on 'home ground' and expected such a current to set his ship to the ENE. Consequently, he would go to his chart room and on squared paper, make something similar to the following sketch. Nore, I use the same little symbols as do you although the only thing square in my time was a piece of a chocolate bar:
Captain Smith's thoughts.jpg