I do not see how two ships can alter their bearings when stopped Lord Mersey


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Paul Lee

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The inverse square effect does make light's intensity diminish rapdily at distance, but don't forget that the human eye would not be able to distinguish individual lights at the distance anyway. The lights would then merge into one mass, making them cumulatively brighter. So, you have two conflicting effects, though I think the inverse square law would be the dominant one.
 

Paul Lee

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Something else to bear in mind: Captain Lord was, either by accident or design, ignorant of the currents playing on the ships in this saga. He placed the Titanic's wreckage the next day at something like 30+ miles from his stopping position overnight. Quite true, and I do believe him. But this neglects hours of current moving flotsam around.

I find the use of 30+ miles by various authors and by Lord to be a cover for the rockets. This great distance not only disposes of the arguments "we couldn't have seen the Titanic" and "we couldn't have got there in time" but also "we couldn't possibly have seen her rockets at that distance". At 19-21 miles, the rockets would have been obvious.
 

Henry Loscher

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Consider this fact about whether it was possible to see masthead lights at a distance. The masthead light was not silohuetted against a black sky. It was silohuetted against a many brilliant stars of varying brightness. Is it not possible to confuse masthead lights from stars and vice versa? I seem to recall that some observers that night stated the difficulty to vision posed by the conditions prevailing.

Cheers, Henry
 
Mar 22, 2003
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The inverse square law tells you nothing about a person's perception of brightness. Our eyes are not linear detectors. The dynamic range in relatively low light conditions is about 1 million to one, perhaps higher. (see http://clarkvision.com/imagedetail/eye-resolution.html.)

If a ship 5 miles off put up a light at the top of its mast that was seen to be only as bright as the star Sirius in Canis Major (the brightest star in the sky), then at 12 miles off that same light would appear as bright as the star Rigel in Orion (the 5th brightest star seen from northern hemisphere). As they say in Royal Caribbean cruise line, "just get out there" and look for yourself. Both stars are easily seen tonight in the early evening sky about 7 PM. This should give you some idea of the difference in relative brightness caused by 2.4 to 1 increase in distance.

Two lights 15 ft apart at 12 miles would be separated by 0.7' of arc. This would be near the resolution limit of someone with good eyesight. A ship 12 miles out with two mastlights 70 ft apart and one light 15 ft higher than the other (like the Californian had) would look like it had only one mastlight as Paul mentioned if the ship was facing you within plus or minus 1 point of head-on. Using binoculars the two lights would easily be separated.
 

Paul Lee

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Talking of distortion of the evidence and how far Lordites go: Leslie Harrison constantly used Lawrence Beesley's recollection that the last of the Titanic's rockets were fired before he left in boat 13. However, when I wrote to Harrison c.1990 to point out that others in boat 13 and boat 15 recalled rockets going up after boat 13 reachedthe water, he replied that "the timings of the launchings of the lifeboats are unreliable". However, I wasn't referring to launch timings at all!

It struck me as dishonest then, and I still think it was dishonest to dodge the issue.
 

Paul Slish

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Michael Standart. Hi. Since you have been at sea very much, let me try to make my question clearer and thanks to the others for their comments.

Someone standing on the bridge of the Californian would have his eyes about 44 or 45 feet above sea level. That means his horizon is about 7.75 miles. Anything beyond that will be partially or completely hull down depending on how far it is beyond 7.75 miles. The Titanic's boat deck was 70 feet above the water. If the Titanic was about 8.25 miles past 7.75 miles for a total of 16 miles away everything below 50 feet up on the Titanic would be hull down under the horizon. So you would only have any light above 50 feet height on the Titanic visible over the horizon including the mast head light. That is just the top few decks.

If the Titanic was about 10.5 miles from the 7.75 mile horizon of the Californian then it is a total of about 18 miles away. At that distance everything below 80 feet height on the Titanic is below the horizon. So at 18 miles only the masthead light of the Titanic would be above the horizon from the Californian.

Now I don't know how bright the Titanic's 1912 masthead light was. Henry brought up the fact that a dim masthead light at distance might not be distinguishable from a faint star. At any given night if it is clear you can see about 3000 stars. I've worked for the Forest Service and when I was up in the high Sierra Nevada Mtns fighting small forest fires there was not light at night except for the stars. You could see plenty of them and a dim light on the horizon would not readily be discerned as manmade as opposed to a star.

When I was a trucker a number of years ago, I used to go from Buffalo to Toronto, or Buffalo to Detroit through Ontario plenty. I would see lake freighters docked or anchored in Burlington Bay. At night they didn't have very many lights on them. They had no masts. The white lights around the castle at the stern didn't look much brighter than a porch light to me. The docked ones were maybe a half mile off and one in the bay maybe a mile or a mile and a half. I've seen ships out in Lake Ontario too. If I was on either of the two big bridges (St Catharines or Burlington), I think I could see those lights at five miles. I think at 10 it would be doubtful to see any at all.

All right I've given you some figures about distance and how far hull down the Titanic would be at given distances from the Californian.

On a clear night with a lot of stars about how far away do you think you could first distinguish definitely a masthead light like the Titanic's as it approached Californian. And if you can't give an answer then so be it. You can't answer what you aren't sure of.

Thanks, Paul Slish
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Hi Paul, how are you? Harrison's contention that the last of the rockets were fired before # 13 was lowered is definitely not accurate. In fact, he had to badger the elderly Beesley to get more support for that "recollection". When Bill Wormstedt, George Behe and I were working on our lifeboat launch sequence, we found a good deal of evidence that the last of the rockets were fired after # 13, and ceased right before Boxhall left in # 2, which was after Lifeboat # 13 had left the ship.
 

Dave Gittins

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For a classic piece of doctoring evidence, see the TV show Last Myths of the Titanic. Peter Padfield manages to tell the Californian story without mentioning the distress signals. According to him, it's the 'third ship' that matters.
 
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>>And if you can't give an answer then so be it. You can't answer what you aren't sure of. <<

I don't think I can with any degree of certainty. Generally speaking, if it was in my line of sight, I could see it, and that includes masthead lights and sidelights. It's entirely possible that depending on distance and just how bright the light is that it could be mistaken for a star. Absent any odd hypothetical optical phenomenon, you can't always trust your own eyes to tell you what's really there.

In this case however hashing this out may be just a bit of a distraction. There was no question from the Californian that what they were observing was in fact a ship. Nobody disputed that then, and nobody disputes it now. The arguement eventually was over whether or not what they saw was a liner or a tramp steamer.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Hi Michael,

"The arguement eventually was over whether or not what they saw was a liner or a tramp steamer."

Very true. In fact, Groves and Captain Lord had a disagreement over this very point on the night of the sinking, according to the former's testimony.

"Nobody disputed that then, and nobody disputes it now."

I'm surprised that this has never been suggested, considering that some authors have tried to remove the rockets from the equation, and they most certainly were seen as well, haha!

Take care,
Tad
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Regarding the ability to see lights.

BOXHALL:
15393. Could you see it distinctly with the naked eye? - No, I could see the light with the naked eye, but I could not define what it was, but by the aid of a pair of glasses I found it was the two masthead lights of a vessel, probably about half a point on the port bow, and in the position she would be showing her red if it were visible, but she was too far off then.
15401. Did they seem to be stationary? - I was paying most of my attention to this steamer then, and she was approaching us; and then I saw her sidelights. I saw her green light and the red. She was end-on to us. Later I saw her red light. This is all with the aid of a pair of glasses up to now. Afterwards I saw the ship's red light with my naked eye, and the two masthead lights. The only description of the ship that I could give is that she was, or I judged her to be, a four-masted steamer.
Mr. BOXHALL. I saw the side lights. Whatever ship she was had beautiful lights. I think we could see her lights more than the regulation distance, but I do not think we could see them 14 miles.
 
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>>I'm surprised that this has never been suggested, considering that some authors have tried to remove the rockets from the equation, and they most certainly were seen as well, haha!
<<

Well, in this case, saying "There was no ship there" doesn't make a lot of sense when one side or another is arguing over how many were there and what they were. Anyone reading a claim like that would need at least half an hour to stop laughing long enough to post a rebuttal.
 
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If The Titanic was Hull Down like some people propose her side lights (Red & Green) would not be visible, and the required distance for these lights to be seen was 2 Miles. 7.5 Miles is than more than 3 times that distance. not to say I don't think some side exceeded the requirements, I think some indeed would w/ 3-4 Miles visibility.
 

Paul Slish

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I never said there was no ship seen at all by the Californian. I have been studying Third Officer Charles Groves' evidence. He says he first saw a ship 10 to 12 miles off (B. 8160, 8384). He said she got as close as 5 to 7 miles off (B.8385). IF these figures are accurate that means Stone and Gibson did not recognize distress rockets at 5 to 7 miles off. This seems hard to believe. Most of the people on this thread think the Titanic was 10 to 13 miles off from the Californian and seen by her officers. That would mean Groves was seeing her at 15 to 18 miles initially and I find that a little hard to believe. Plus it also means Groves was wrong about his distance estimate which I understand is possible. That is why I asked the mariners how far they thought the Titanic could be seen by the Californian. The answer seems to be it is hard to say.

Also Groves testimony about how the ship was steaming is hard to understand.

"8179. Could you see much of her length? - No, not a great deal; because as I could judge she was coming up obliquely to us.

8180. She was foreshortened? - Supposing we were heading this way she would be coming up in this way, perhaps an angle of 45 degrees to us (Demonstrating.)"

The Titanic was steaming almost due west (S 86 W) so how could it be coming up obliquely to the Californian abaft the beam (B.8149)? Unless Groves is wrong.

It is very difficult for me to believe the ship Groves describes as being the Titanic in regard to both distance and bearing.

Lastly I don't think it is wrong to try to figure out what happened physically in regard to the ships in that vicinity on April 14 and 15, 1912. Isn't that what the discussion board is set up to do? It is about bearings and distance. I've never denied that the rockets seen by the Californian were from the Titanic and Carpathia respectively. If someone is not interested in further exploring this area, then that one does not need to read or respond to the posts.

Paul Slish
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Paul S., I'll try and be a bit helpful on this one since I have studied this issue for quite some time now and believe I have a completely coherent picture of what took place.

Groves judged the steamer to be about 10 to 12 miles off by 11:15 Californian time. But estimates of distances at night can be very unreliable. The night was perfectly clear with no distinction as to where the sky met the sea. The only parts of ships that were visible were their lights. There was no reference upon which to estimate distance. Distances were judged by the brightness levels of lights seen for the most part.

Titanic’s mast head light was about 145 ft above sea level. By 11:15 PM the distance would close to 17 miles and lights on Titanic’s boat deck would just be coming up above the horizon as a glare. Within another minute or two Titanic’s navigational side would become visible through glasses. By 11:20 PM the distance reduces further to about 15 miles. 11:15 PM Californian time would be close to 11:27 PM on the Titanic, about 12-13 minutes before the collision. The sighting line from the drifting Californian to the oncoming Titanic would be about a point abaft the starboard beam. Some time between 11 and half past 11 Lord was looking at the steamer and notice her mast light, green sidelight, and a few deck lights. Lord thought the ship had come to a stop somewhere about 11:30. It was about this time that Groves had dropped down to the lower bridge to tell Lord about the approaching steamer. Lord ordered him to try and call her up on the morse lamp. By 11:28 PM Californian time, the Titanic would reach the collision point, and the sighting line from the stopped Californian would be about 2 points abaft the beam with the Californian pointing up toward NNE true (NE magnetic as Groves had mentioned at that time). This thing about shutting her lights out at 11:40 was, in my opinion, after the Titanic had pointed up toward the NNW and was drifting to a stop, ending up within 1/2 point angle on the bow to the Californian. The mast lights and sidelights of the Californian would not be seen from the Titanic because the bearing line was more that 10 points abaft the bow at that time.

That's about all I will say for now.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Jesse: Hull down simply means that the waterline of the ship was beyond the visible horizon. From the bridge of the Californian the visible horizon was roughly about 7.5 nautical miles. If the Titanic was 13 miles away everything from D deck and up would be seen from the Californian. Only the lower 20 ft of her above waterline hull would be invisible.

The required distances for navigation lights were minimum naked eye distances, and these allowed for oil lamps to be used. The Titanic and Californian had electric lights which could be seen for many miles beyond the minimum especially on clear, dark nights on a calm sea.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Hi Sam, how are you?

"This thing about shutting her lights out at 11:40 was, in my opinion, after the Titanic had pointed up toward the NNW and was drifting to a stop, ending up within 1/2 point angle on the bow to the Californian."

Groves' observations would tend to support this. In fact, he speculated at the time that the lights being shut out might have been a result of the ship starboarding to avoid ice.

"about how many miles further would the navigation lights be visible? this is important."

I don't think anyone can give a definitive answer saying that "they could be seen at X number of miles, but not at Y number of miles," but those with experience at sea have said that navigation lights can be seen at well over ten miles in clear conditions such as those the night the ship sank.

Also, an analogy that just struck me regarding Stone's belief that the vessel seen from the Californian was steaming away. We know that the Californian was slowly turning in the current, which from his point of view with no points of reference visible in the dark to distinguish the horizon from the sea and to anchor the lights against, may have made him think the vessel was steaming, when it was actually the Californian that was moving. Think of how the sun appears to travel across the sky, when it is actually the earth that is rotating, making it appear to the earthbound observer that the sun is the object moving from east to west. We know that the Californian's rotation would have made the ship on the horizon appear to move to a certain degree just based on how the vessel was drifting. This would likewise explain how Boxhall believed the vessel he saw was moving, and his observations of which lights and sidelights were visible and when closely matches the slow movements of the Californian and which lights she would have presented to Titanic if they were in sight of each other, and when.

Add to the equation the sidelights and other lights of Titanic slowly disappearing under the water as she sank and you have a confusing scene unfolding to Stone and Gibson: a vessel that is firing what appear to be distress rockets, but apparently is underway (although she wasn't, and Gibson did not believe she turned around). One can see how they might have been confused about whether the ship was in distress or not, and why they might not have given Captain Lord adequate information to suggest something serious was happening. I wish somebody who is good with graphics or animation could accurately mock up what the witnesses described and compare them to each other visually. That would be interesting.
 

Paul Lee

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Hi Tad, Didn't Gibson say at the BOT Inquiry that Stone was taking bearings of the other ship continuously?
 
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