Launching the lifeboats


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I read somewhere that a woman fell into a gap between a lifeboat and the deck because of the list. Fortunately, she was saved and got into the lifeboat on her second try. Could the crew have pulled the boat falls closer to the deck to reduce the size of the gap?
 
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Jim Currie

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Yes, and 2nd Offficer Lightoller had thought about that when getting the boats ready. Here's what he told his questioners:

" My reason for loading the boats through the windows from A deck was that there was a coaling wire, a very strong wire running along A deck, and I thought it would be very useful to trice the boat to in case the ship got a slight list or anything; "!

I am not sure if Titanic's boats were fitted with thricing pendants but there would have been a means of bowsing-in the boat to the shiop's side. This needed attaching points on the ship. Lightoller meant to use the coal wire as an attaching point for thricing or bowsing the boats hard against the ship's side thus avoiding a gap.
 
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There were two sets of blocks for each boat, one forward and one aft, with threefold purchases - one block at the davit and one at the lifeboat. Another line went from the block at each davit to Titanic's deck - it was used for lowering each end of the boat. For each foot that the lowering line was released, the boat would drop 1/6 of a foot. That results in a 6:1 mechanical advantage. (I think I've got the numbers right.)

I can't say for sure what was depicted in the movie.
Thank you for this information.

I have another question though, what type of pulleys did Titanic have on the lifeboats (i.e. hoist pulley, movable pulley)?
 

Jim Currie

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By that, do you mean that the crew would pull down on the ropes, wait for the davits to be cranked back out and then be lowered to deck level?
A wee bit busy at the moment. However, I will answer your questions... both ot them as soon as I can. !'m a wee bit busy at the moment. Glad you ask these questions because too many people who have never seen these things take too uch for granted.
 
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Jim Currie

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Both! By the way,the power gained is 6 not 7.

The boats would be raised a few inches when empty by pulling on the rope. The weight to be pulled would be 1/6th of the actual weight due to the pully arrangement. Then the whole arrangement including davits would be swung out over the side and the boat lowered to the deck edge or embarkation station by slacking off the rope rounf the crusafix bollard at each end. Once in position, the ropes would be made fast to the bollard.

The illustration is of a boat already swung-out ready to lower.
 
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Thank you so much for this information! I have been looking for it for a while.
 

Thomas C.

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Quick question.
Can someone describe me the process of uncovering the lifeboats?

From the survivors accounts, this process took about 15-20 minutes. How did it look like?
In James Cameron's movie it looks like it took 1 or 2 minutes. In the movie: Titanic 20 years later, James Cameron assumed that process of taking the covers off, took about 2 minutes.
 
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William Wates

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A friend of mine who is an engineer has suggested that the passenger capacity of the lifeboats could have been increased significantly, or even doubled, by tying them together in pairs (and thereby converting them into stable multi-hulls) using the inside oars to connect them and the outboard oars to steady them, in the fashion of out-riggers. As the sea was flat calm, the boats could then be loaded until the gunwales were much lower than the designed level, with no risk of a capsize or swamping. It's an intriguing idea. But I suspect that tying the boats together and loading them on a pitch-black night with inexperienced boat crews and uninformed passengers would not have been possible, particularly later in the night when panic started to set in. Furthermore although the sea state at night was calm (we now know that a flat calm can be a sign of a nearby ice field), a swell got up in the morning, so there would have been a possibility of swamping then.
 

Mike Spooner

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>>As we all know Titanic's lifeboats were not Filled to capacity, my Question is may that be because the davits could not support the weight.<<

Nope. The lifeboats and davits were tested in Belfast at their full load and shown to be plenty strong enough for the job. The problems were on several levels, not the least of which was at first, few people really understood the gravity of the situation. (Why take to a cold uncomfortable boat when you don't believe the ship you're on is sinking in the first place?) By the time everybody realized just how much trouble the ship was in, it was way too late.
I have read the lifeboats tested in Belfast with 70 men with no problems. The burning question how many does it take to sink a lifeboat in calm water? I have seen a figure quoted of 120 men! How you get 120 in a lifeboat must been bit of a challenge, I presume standing order only.
 
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I have read the lifeboats tested in Belfast with 70 men with no problems. The burning question how many does it take to sink a lifeboat in calm water? I have seen a figure quoted of 120 men! How you get 120 in a lifeboat must been bit of a challenge, I presume standing order only.
If you read that then you read something wrong. In one of Olympic's lifeboat they put half-hundredweight weights as to represent the weight of 65 people. The lifeboat was lowered into the water and then raised again six times. The test was done for the electric boat winches.

Never saw the figure you mentioned about the 120 men to sink a lifeboat. Where can I find it?
 
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>>I'm still glad however that should I ever take a cruise, at least modern ships are equipped with eletric davits<<
The real question is not the lifeboats or davits working, but will the those trained to get them loaded and launched and manned stay around to do their jobs if a real emergency were to take place with little time to work with?
 
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Modern davits do not lower boats by electricity. They are required by safety regulation to work by gravity just in case all has gone to Hell and people still need to escape. The electric motors are for recovering the boats after launch. The system is vastly improved over Titanic's equipment, but problems still remain. If the ship should take a substantial list, the boats on the high side still cannot be launched. Hope your embarkation station is for a boat on the low side!

-- David G. Brown
 

Jim Currie

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The biggest problem when launching lifeboats from a passenger vessel is people and not just the crew.
First of all, self-preservation in all humans, crew and passengers is very strong.
Second, people of many different ethnic origins may not be able to communicate or understand what is being communicated to them. The crew may be unable to communicate a sense of urgency or be able to calm unnecessary anxiety or even panic.
Third, is the special circumstances of individual cases. Despite the opinions of the theory bods, there is no "one size fits all". No set of guidelines that can equip a master for all eventualities.
 
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Jim Currie

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Quick question.
Can someone describe me the process of uncovering the lifeboats?

From the survivors accounts, this process took about 15-20 minutes. How did it look like?
In James Cameron's movie it looks like it took 1 or 2 minutes. In the movie: Titanic 20 years later, James Cameron assumed that process of taking the covers off, took about 2 minutes.
Hello Thomas.

Uncovering the boats would take experienced ABs no more than 2 or 3 minutes. Here's a pic from one my old ships taken a very long time ago.
Covers.jpg

The next part took longer.

After the covers were off, the falls, Lowering ropes would be taken out of the boat at each end and coiled down on the deck ready for the lowering process. These were very long and had to be carefully coiled-down.
Once this was done and any unnecessary bits and pieces removed from the boat, the gripes (bowsing-in wires) would be released. The next step would be to wind out the boat to the ship's side then lower it to the deck edge and secure ready for loading. 20 minutes is about right.
 
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