Launching the lifeboats


Jim Currie

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That's what Lightoller said. ;) So if they started to uncover at about 12, then by 12:20 the first one would be about ready for loading.
I think you know where I'm going with this.
I have no idea, Sam. I suspect a "pounce concerning the evidence of Pitman. but I await your observation with baited breath. Meanwhile, Pitman also said that signals were not fired from Titanic while he was still on board her. This is crucial and of far more importance to this argument than when a particular life boat was ready to load and launch.
And so, to "head you off at the pass" as it were; if you believe that QM Rowe had partly altered time then it is Game set and Match because if Pitman did not see any rockets fired before he left the ship in boat 5 and boat 7 left before boat 5, then it was boat 7 that was seen by Rowe at 12-25 am and signals had not been fired before that time.
It would not have taken Rowe more than 10 minutes to obey the order to bring the detonators so he must have arrived on the bridge no later than 12-35 am by his watch and the first signal was yet to be fired. That first signal could not have been fired any later than 12-40 am by Rowe's Watch which was partially set back.
 

Mike Spooner

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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?
Hi Ioannis,
One of the annoying things you read it some then you cant find it a again. The 70 man lifeboat test. I say the weight test sound a far more practical test than trying together 70 men. Much the same story for the 120 men test. When I find it again I will let you know. Mind you it does not surprise me, as man will always try for the impossible. Like years ago how many can you get into a mini? A useless test but a challenge for man kind.
 
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Mike Spooner

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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.
View attachment 42058
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.
Thinking at the time of the freezing cold temperature would of not help the matters and further slowed down the process of launching. I guest the lengths of freezing cold ropes to lower the boats down look like 3 to one must of been at less 200 feet long, been past through the barehand.
 

Jim Currie

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On the contrary, Mike. Cold weather makes a man work faster to keep warm. In addition, the falls would have been relatively warm and dry, having been under the boat cover. Apart from that, most of the ABs on Titanic would have served on a sailing vessel at one time or another and most certainly would have been used to handling manila and sisal ropes in all weathers. Consequently, they had their own integral "work gloves". Their hand would have easily doubled as sanding blocks.
 

Mike Spooner

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Gosh they had the luxury of work gloves! I wonder if the company paid for them as knowing what a bunch of tight souls they were in those days!
 
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if Pitman did not see any rockets fired before he left the ship in boat 5 and boat 7 left before boat 5, then it was boat 7 that was seen by Rowe at 12-25 am and signals had not been fired before that time.
Boxhall: "I knew one of the boats had gone away, because I happened to be putting the firing lanyard inside the wheel-house after sending off a rocket, and the telephone bell rang. Somebody telephoned to say that one of the starboard boats had left the ship, and I was rather surprised."
 

Jim Currie

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Gosh they had the luxury of work gloves! I wonder if the company paid for them as knowing what a bunch of tight souls they were in those days!
Hello Mike.

Work gloves?

I finished my apprenticeship in the early 1950s. After 4 years of being the lowest form of animal life on board, I too had hands like lumps of boot leather.
Later on, work gloves started to appear, but, as an Officer, if I or the Bosun saw a sailor using them with ropes and winches and blocks and tackles, they got their backsides in a sling.
The reason for this was that a finger or thumb of a work glove with a flesh inside it, tended to catch in the lay of a rope. Not much fun for the wearer if the rope was being wound around a drum end or it had been let go, and was running out fast, through a fairlead (with attached seaman). No, Mike, gloves were considered dangerous.
 
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Jim Currie

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Boxhall: "I knew one of the boats had gone away, because I happened to be putting the firing lanyard inside the wheel-house after sending off a rocket, and the telephone bell rang. Somebody telephoned to say that one of the starboard boats had left the ship, and I was rather surprised."
Ok Sam! Lt's play your game.

"4992. Will that help you to approximate what you think was the time between the striking of the iceberg and your getting to boat No. 5? Was it an hour, do you think? A: - No, I should think it would be about 12.20.
14993. You say the cover was still on. Was the cover being stripped at the time you got there? A: - It was being uncovered then - Yes.
So about 12-20 am, 40 minutes after the impact and about 20 minutes after he was due on duty, Pitman arrived at No. 5 which was being uncovered.

"14997. How many men had you helping at this boat? A: - I think four."

That's 5 men getting that boat ready for launching. 5 minutes later, at 12-25 am that boat would have been ready, Sam. Don't bother to contradict me, unlike you, I have actually prepared and loaded a boat exactly like that.

Pitman then told his questioner:

"15036...- Well, I should think it would be about 12.30 When No. 5 boat reached the water."

That was just about right.
However Pitman also told his questioner that he had a hard time finding enough women to fill No.5. Why do you think that was? Might it have been because as Pitman tells us;
15043...- No. 7 was before; it was the first boat launched on the starboard side.
In the US, Pitman stated:
" I was clearing No. 5 at the same time that No. 7 was coming off."

Later, in the UK, he stated

15066. Whilst you were in the boat did you notice the "Titanic" sending up rockets? A: - Yes, she did.

But previously in the US, he categorically stated:

"Q: You saw those signals of distress, did you, from the Titanic? A: Yes.
Q: And you saw about a dozen or so of them? A: It may have been a dozen or it may have been more, sir.
Q: When was this? When did you first see them; before you left the Titanic? A: No; shortly after.
Q: Did you see any while you were aboard the Titanic, any of that character? A: None were fired.
Q: None were fired? A: No."

Now that fella was there , Sam, you were not. He very plainly states that no pyrotechnics (any of that) were fired from Titanic before he left in boat No.5 but were fired shortly after said boat No.5 got away from the ship.
Since No. 7 was seen at or abeam of the aft, starboard gangway close to the time of 12-25 am on a partly adjusted watch, it must have been launched about 5 minutes earlier, at 12-20 am. That agrees very well with the evidence of Pitman who saw No. 7 "just coming off" as he was preparing boat No.5
According to Pitman, No. 5 left about 12-30 am and the first signal was seen by him shortly after that.
If 12-30 am was partly adjusted time, then the time at New York when this happened would have been 10-52 pm. Unadjusted time on Californian was 12-42 am. Three (3) minutes later, Stone saw his first "flash"
 

Mike Spooner

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Just a matter of interest under Article 31 Rules of the Road. Rockets fired at intervals of about a minute!
Why were they so slow in launching rockets? It would appear the intervals were around 3-4 minutes!
I also understand they need a BOT certificate for rocket firing. Were they current at the time?
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Mike. One of the regulation to be followed at that time was ""...rockets or shells, throwing stars of any colour or description, fired one at a time at short intervals..."
The definition of a "short interval" has often been argued over. However, in the case of the socket signals carried by Titanic, the method of use was very specific. to determine how these socket signals were to be fired, we need to go to the British Inquiry...to the final report. Under
Detailed Description - Life-saving Appliances, you will find:

"Distress signals. - These were supplied of number and pattern approved by Board of Trade - i.e., 36 socket signals in lieu of guns,..."

I remind you and others the meaning of the expression "in lieu"
it is:
instead (of). This means the socket signals were to take the place of guns. Guns could be used, night or day as signals of distress.

The standard nighttime distress signals were as follows:

(a). A gun or other explosive signal fired at intervals of about a minute.
(b). Flames (i.e., signal fires) on the vessel (as from a burning tar-barrel, oil-barrel, etc.).
(c). Rockets or shells, throwing stars of any colour or description, fired one at a time, at short intervals;
(d).5 − A continuous sounding with any fog-signal apparatus.

It follows that as the socket signals supplied to the Titanic were to be fired like a gun, then they were to be fired at 1 minutes intervals.

In fact, it seems that the signals fired by Titanic were fired at average intervals of 6.5 minutes.

A signal of distress can be visual, sound or audio-visual. However, they all have one thing in common...they are meant to convey a sense of distress. Since distress is not a casual condition, they are also meant to convey a sense of urgency. No wonder those on the Californian were confused by what they were seeing.
 
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George Jacub

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Boxhall: "I knew one of the boats had gone away, because I happened to be putting the firing lanyard inside the wheel-house after sending off a rocket, and the telephone bell rang. Somebody telephoned to say that one of the starboard boats had left the ship, and I was rather surprised."
I suggest everyone needs to read my post on the timing of the first rocket on my blog Titanic's Secrets Fold. It will unravel the misunderstandings of the evidence.

Titanic's Secrets Unfold: Who fired the first rocket on the Titanic
 

Mike Spooner

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Hello Mike. One of the regulation to be followed at that time was ""...rockets or shells, throwing stars of any colour or description, fired one at a time at short intervals..."
The definition of a "short interval" has often been argued over. However, in the case of the socket signals carried by Titanic, the method of use was very specific. to determine how these socket signals were to be fired, we need to go to the British Inquiry...to the final report. Under
Detailed Description - Life-saving Appliances, you will find:

"Distress signals. - These were supplied of number and pattern approved by Board of Trade - i.e., 36 socket signals in lieu of guns,..."

I remind you and others the meaning of the expression "in lieu"
it is:
instead (of). This means the socket signals were to take the place of guns. Guns could be used, night or day as signals of distress.

The standard nighttime distress signals were as follows:

(a). A gun or other explosive signal fired at intervals of about a minute.
(b). Flames (i.e., signal fires) on the vessel (as from a burning tar-barrel, oil-barrel, etc.).
(c). Rockets or shells, throwing stars of any colour or description, fired one at a time, at short intervals;
(d).5 − A continuous sounding with any fog-signal apparatus.

It follows that as the socket signals supplied to the Titanic were to be fired like a gun, then they were to be fired at 1 minutes intervals.

In fact, it seems that the signals fired by Titanic were fired at average intervals of 6.5 minutes.

A signal of distress can be visual, sound or audio-visual. However, they all have one thing in common...they are meant to convey a sense of distress. Since distress is not a casual condition, they are also meant to convey a sense of urgency. No wonder those on the Californian were confused by what they were seeing.
Hi Jim,
I would total agree with you on :
No wonder those on the Californian were confused by what they were seeing?
How about the range one can see in miles and range in the sound of the shooting stars when exploding too?
Looking at the British inquiry the 26 questions the which the BoT have draw up by themselves to be answered. (how convenient that was!) In the 26 questions one can see there are further questions in the questions making a total figure of 64 questions for answers! Yet I cannot see one of the question that covers the California and rockets?
I guest rockets are a dangerous piece of equipment in the wrong hands were a safety certificate is issue by the BoT.
Do we know what is require for the certificate? In other words is a practical demonstration required?
1. If so how many rockets are fired and other types to?
2. How long the certificate is vailed for?
3. Was Boxhall certificate current?
4. Who paid for the certificate?
 

Jim Currie

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I suggest everyone needs to read my post on the timing of the first rocket on my blog Titanic's Secrets Fold. It will unravel the misunderstandings of the evidence.

Titanic's Secrets Unfold: Who fired the first rocket on the Titanic
Well researched article. George but if I may, allow me to point out one or two "extras".

First, the firing of the socket signals...not rockets.

The socket signals could not be fired without a method of detonating them. The detonators were kept remote from the projectiles containing the main charge. They were stowed on the poop deck, aft in a special locker along with other pyrotechnics which were self-igniting.

Second: In addition to his other evidence, Pitman who as you stated, "was firmer in his conjecture." also stated that the impact awoke him and that he went out on deck at "About 10 minutes to 12, or a quarter to 12, sir".
Then he clarifies the time very clearly when he stated "I had a look around, and I could not see anything, and could not hear any noise, so I went back to the room and sat down and lit my pipe. I thought that nothing had really happened, that perhaps it might have been a dream, or something like that. A few minutes afterwards I thought I had better start dressing, as it was near my watch,"

The standard practice was for Boxhall to work 4 hours from 8 pm that evening plus an extra 24 minutes. Pitman was to relieve him on the bridge at the end of that period and work from Midnight to 4 am plus an extra 23 minutes.
In practice and as a matter of courtesy, the relieving officer arrived on the bridge a few minutes before he was due to take over. It follows, that if we add these "few minutes" to Pitman's "few minutes after 11- 45 am or 11-50 am", then Boxhall arrived in Pitman's cabin at about 5 minutes to Midnight. and he, Boxhall, had completed 4 hours 19 minutes of his allotted 4 hours 24 minutes.

The US Inquiry reported: "Within 15 or 20 minutes [ of impact] the Captain visited the wireless room and instructed the operator to get assistance, sending out the distress call, C.Q.D."
The UK Inquiry reported: "At 12.15 a.m. the distress signal C.Q.D. was sent. This was heard by several steamships and by Cape Race. By 12.25, Mr. Boxhall, the fourth officer, had worked out the correct position of the "Titanic," and then another message was sent: "Come at once, we have struck a berg."

The US Inquiry Folks used a difference in time between New York and Titanic of 1 hour 33 minutes. It follows that if they thought the first distress signal went up between 11-55 am and Midnight on Titanic's clock. in fact, they should have used 1 hour 38 minutes.
The UK conclusion was based on the evidence of 2nd. Wireless Operator Bride who believed there was a 2-hour difference between ship time and New York time. This is where their times of 10-15 pm NYT for the first signal 10-25 pm NYT came from. It also means that if that had been the case, the equivalent times on Titanic would have been 12-15 am for the first signal and 12-25 am for the second which is completely absurd.

The handwritten record of the Cape Race wireless log is not the original one. The copy, held by the Nova Scotia Museum is based on a time difference of 1 hour 50 minutes between Cape Race and Titanic which is also nonsense.
For me, the best evidence as to when the first signal was received comes from the Wireless Log of the SS Mount Temple. It does not record the time of the first distress message but records the second one as 10-25 pm EST. this gives a transmission time of 12-03 am on board Titanic which puts Boxhall in the wireless room a minute earlier.

If, on the other hand, Pitman was correct in his timing, then about 5 minutes to go by Watch time would have been 10-17 pm New York Time because he was due on duty at 10-22 pm New York Time. Boxhall would just have left the cabin on his way back round to the bridge. He would get there a few minutes later and calculate his distress position before taking it to Phillips in the wireless room. At that time, the crew started arriving on the boat deck and the noise of the venting steam was tremendous. This is confirmed by Lightoller who arrived on the deck just after Boxhall had gone.

As for when the first socket signal was fired? Pitman was specifically asked about that and was adamant that pyrotechnic signals were not fired before he left in Boat No.5. Since Boat No.7 left before that, and QM Rowe saw it in the water, then he, Rowe, might well have fired that first signal but he did not do so until after No. 7 boat had been launched.

Incidentally: Captain Smith knew his ship was in dire straits a few minutes after Boxhall left the bridge to go below for his second inspection. He knew because the Carpenter reported to him the extent of the flooding. He did not need anyone to interpret the Carpenter's report, he knew exactly what it meant. Consequently, you can be sure it was at that time that he gave the order to call all hands to the boat deck and make preparations. At that time Boxhall would not have been witness to that order because he was down below.
When Boxhall returned from his second trip below, he would have been told to call the officers. That had to be about 15 minutes after impact.
Captain Smith would not have given the order to swing the boats out and prepare for loading until he had a second opinion as to the progress of the sinking.

Regards.
 

George Jacub

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As for when the first socket signal was fired? Pitman was specifically asked about that and was adamant that pyrotechnic signals were not fired before he left in Boat No.5. Since Boat No.7 left before that, and QM Rowe saw it in the water, then he, Rowe, might well have fired that first signal but he did not do so until after No. 7 boat had been launched.

Pitman was right. No distress signal was fired before No.5 left the Titanic. The first went up when his lifeboat was between the boat deck and the ocean when the boat was off the ship.
Pitman said No. 5 was lowered only minutes after No. 7; that means both boats were filled simultaneously.
The first distress signal was spotted by the Californian at 12:28 a.m. (Titanic time), three minutes after Rowe saw No. 7 in the water. Rowe could not physically have retrieved a box of detonators on a lower deck, carried the box from the rear of the ship to the front, spoken to the Captain, then fired a rocket in a span of 180 seconds.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Well researched article. George but if I may, allow me to point out one or two "extras".

First, the firing of the socket signals...not rockets.

The socket signals could not be fired without a method of detonating them. The detonators were kept remote from the projectiles containing the main charge. They were stowed on the poop deck, aft in a special locker along with other pyrotechnics which were self-igniting.

Second: In addition to his other evidence, Pitman who as you stated, "was firmer in his conjecture." also stated that the impact awoke him and that he went out on deck at "About 10 minutes to 12, or a quarter to 12, sir".
Then he clarifies the time very clearly when he stated "I had a look around, and I could not see anything, and could not hear any noise, so I went back to the room and sat down and lit my pipe. I thought that nothing had really happened, that perhaps it might have been a dream, or something like that. A few minutes afterwards I thought I had better start dressing, as it was near my watch,"

The standard practice was for Boxhall to work 4 hours from 8 pm that evening plus an extra 24 minutes. Pitman was to relieve him on the bridge at the end of that period and work from Midnight to 4 am plus an extra 23 minutes.
In practice and as a matter of courtesy, the relieving officer arrived on the bridge a few minutes before he was due to take over. It follows, that if we add these "few minutes" to Pitman's "few minutes after 11- 45 am or 11-50 am", then Boxhall arrived in Pitman's cabin at about 5 minutes to Midnight. and he, Boxhall, had completed 4 hours 19 minutes of his allotted 4 hours 24 minutes.

The US Inquiry reported: "Within 15 or 20 minutes [ of impact] the Captain visited the wireless room and instructed the operator to get assistance, sending out the distress call, C.Q.D."
The UK Inquiry reported: "At 12.15 a.m. the distress signal C.Q.D. was sent. This was heard by several steamships and by Cape Race. By 12.25, Mr. Boxhall, the fourth officer, had worked out the correct position of the "Titanic," and then another message was sent: "Come at once, we have struck a berg."

The US Inquiry Folks used a difference in time between New York and Titanic of 1 hour 33 minutes. It follows that if they thought the first distress signal went up between 11-55 am and Midnight on Titanic's clock. in fact, they should have used 1 hour 38 minutes.
The UK conclusion was based on the evidence of 2nd. Wireless Operator Bride who believed there was a 2-hour difference between ship time and New York time. This is where their times of 10-15 pm NYT for the first signal 10-25 pm NYT came from. It also means that if that had been the case, the equivalent times on Titanic would have been 12-15 am for the first signal and 12-25 am for the second which is completely absurd.

The handwritten record of the Cape Race wireless log is not the original one. The copy, held by the Nova Scotia Museum is based on a time difference of 1 hour 50 minutes between Cape Race and Titanic which is also nonsense.
For me, the best evidence as to when the first signal was received comes from the Wireless Log of the SS Mount Temple. It does not record the time of the first distress message but records the second one as 10-25 pm EST. this gives a transmission time of 12-03 am on board Titanic which puts Boxhall in the wireless room a minute earlier.

If, on the other hand, Pitman was correct in his timing, then about 5 minutes to go by Watch time would have been 10-17 pm New York Time because he was due on duty at 10-22 pm New York Time. Boxhall would just have left the cabin on his way back round to the bridge. He would get there a few minutes later and calculate his distress position before taking it to Phillips in the wireless room. At that time, the crew started arriving on the boat deck and the noise of the venting steam was tremendous. This is confirmed by Lightoller who arrived on the deck just after Boxhall had gone.

As for when the first socket signal was fired? Pitman was specifically asked about that and was adamant that pyrotechnic signals were not fired before he left in Boat No.5. Since Boat No.7 left before that, and QM Rowe saw it in the water, then he, Rowe, might well have fired that first signal but he did not do so until after No. 7 boat had been launched.

Incidentally: Captain Smith knew his ship was in dire straits a few minutes after Boxhall left the bridge to go below for his second inspection. He knew because the Carpenter reported to him the extent of the flooding. He did not need anyone to interpret the Carpenter's report, he knew exactly what it meant. Consequently, you can be sure it was at that time that he gave the order to call all hands to the boat deck and make preparations. At that time Boxhall would not have been witness to that order because he was down below.
When Boxhall returned from his second trip below, he would have been told to call the officers. That had to be about 15 minutes after impact.
Captain Smith would not have given the order to swing the boats out and prepare for loading until he had a second opinion as to the progress of the sinking.

Regards.
Hi Jim,
Just for the record By 12.25, Mr. Boxhall, the fourth officer, had worked out the correct position of the "Titanic," and then another message was sent: "Come at once, we have struck a berg."
Wasn't that not the correct position by 13 miles west of the icefield as they were east of the icefield?
 

Mike Spooner

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On the subject of launching lifeboats. How long would it take to load 65 in the big lifeboats? As for the collapsible lifeboat 47 seats. Are they less stable than the full wooden boats and may take longer to load?
Jim can't wait for your update on the wrong position given?
 

Mike Spooner

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The Engelhardt Collapsible Lifeboat. Were they stored flat on the deck? If so I presume when lifted by the Welin Davit they self righted. However when lifeboat B upside was down in the water. How did that managed to fold out underwater to form a air pocket?
 
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2 of the Engelhardt Collapsibles were stored under the emergency boats, 2 others were at the base of the 1st funnel. The canvas sides had to be raised. Collapsible B was pushed down from the roof of the officers quarters landing upside down on the boat deck which was by that time partly under water. That is how air was trapped under it.
 

Mike Spooner

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2 of the Engelhardt Collapsibles were stored under the emergency boats, 2 others were at the base of the 1st funnel. The canvas sides had to be raised. Collapsible B was pushed down from the roof of the officers quarters landing upside down on the boat deck which was by that time partly under water. That is how air was trapped under it.
If the two emergency or cutter lifeboats were hanging over the side how can one store the collapsible underneath?
On the deck next to cutter boats. As shown in a photo from a Titanic book and with an enclosed with a wooden border fence around the boat. What is surprising the lifeboat seems to be in the up right position and not flat down!
The two on top of the officers quarters A & B. Were they in a flat collapsible stored? Or in a up right position? If that was that the case, it probably explains why the air pocket inside as two men become trapped under the boat when entering the water for a short period.
It makes me wander if they have defeated the purpose of a collapsible lifeboats, by not store them in a flat position to save space? Or is there a sound reason why to keep them in the upright position?
 

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