More Research on the Californian Saga


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Nov 2, 2000
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Hi all! Time to play Devil's advocate again
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I just found an interesting bit of research on the Titanic-Californian controversy and thought you might find it worthwhile. The author seems to take a non-biased and technical approach and his results appear reasonable and seem to be a compromise of the Lordites and anti-Lordites Titanic-Californian distance estimates. Here's the link: Californian Debate

Enjoy!

Michael.
 
Nov 2, 2000
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You're welcome Tracy
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I suspect this thread may not cause as much an uproar as previous ones due to its un-biased approach and compromise results. However, I have been wrong many a time before
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Michael.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Great choice of sites! This one belongs to our shipmate Dave Gittens, and I'm glad to see it's still up and running. Short of the salvage matter, the Californian issue remains one of the thorniest in the Titanic community to this day. With all the advocacy out there (On both sides...let's be fair.), his objectivity is a breath of fresh air.
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Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Dear Michael Koch,
That whole site is excellent and created by someone who frequents ET named Dave Gittins. Gittins has also contributed to this board as well.

The one thing that is excellent about Gittin's views presented on his site is that he tried very hard to keep emotion and personal opinion out of it and just look at the facts. And this shows in the quality of the information there.

I learned alot from it. I think that Michael Standart first sent me there when the refraction questions came up. There is a lot of meaty information there.

Maureen.
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Wow, Bill, thanks for the information and the address to Roy Mengot's site as well. And yes, it is great when two researcher's separately come to the same conclusions. And the charts help to see what is happening. Same numbers!

This is exciting.
Maureen.
 
Nov 2, 2000
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Based on the fact, the morsing was not perceived but the fact Californian crew members could clearly see Titanic's deck lights and perceive her list and also on the time it took Californian to reach Carpathia's latitude, my best guess is they were only slightly greater than 10 miles away, but 10 to 16 seems to take into account both sides arguments the best.

Michael.
 
Nov 2, 2000
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Laura, you're welcome
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Maureen, thanks for the background info on the author
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I recognize his name now just didn't pay attention when I was looking through his site.

Michael.
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Dear Michael Koch,
He swore me to secrecy, but I thought that just for you,I'd post that. (he he)
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Actually, I feel that Gittins has a very good way of getting rather nasty technical terms and ideas across. That is a gift! But do not tell him I said that.
Thanks.
Maureen.
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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To me, the interesting thing is that Roy Mengot and I reach much the same conclusions on the distance by different methods. I've changed my views on one or two points on my site, but I still stand by the essentials. Like Captain de Coverley, whose report I read after doing my own work, I simply cannot find a credible mechanism whereby Califorian could have got within 5 or 6 miles of Titanic.
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Gosh Michael K., how'd he find us here? Do you think he noticed my big breach of trust....
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Dear Dave Gittins, I think that is why the data is so interesting and you definitely have a gift for presentation.....just my humble opinion, if you were ever to write a book, it would sell like hot cakes. You do have a gift and you could use it to help us to understand.

Maureen.
 
Oct 23, 2000
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Dave Gittins,

Nice article. Very well articulated views. Congratulations! :)
Your southerly border theory is quite interesting, but I have one question about it:
did you factor in Apprentice Gibson seeing the detonationg flash and upward trail of one of the rockets before he saw it burst over the mystery ship to the south (which was Titanic, IMO) and the other ship to the south that was seen an hour after the rockets from the Carpathia were observed?
This, IMHO, indicates that the Californian was actually close to the scene of disaster the whole time. Boxhall's green flares or no.
It is true that Gibson caught the rocket details via binoculars, but unless his glasses were super powerful ones, Gibson couldn't have picked up such details at 10-15 miles away. Unless it all was an optical illusion of some sort he really saw.
The other ship, noted by Second Officer Stone and Chief Officer Stewart at around 4. a.m., was almost certainly the Carpathia herself. For Stone said the ship had four masts and two masthead lights. Stewart concurred and added that she had alot of lights amidship. That's just what the Carpathia looked like that night (the lights Stewart noted must at least have partially been the electric sprays Rostron ordered hung over the side and in the gangways, btw).
Californian certainly had to have drifted closer to the mysterious stranger in order for the Carpathia to have been observed scarcely an hour after her rockets being seen.
No offense, just my two bits worth.

Richard K.
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Hi, Dave:

I've had a nagging question about all this that I hope you can resolve. In establishing a southerly limit to Californian's proximity of about 10 Nmi, I know that you based much of this on the fact that Boxhall's green flares were not observed aboard Lord's ship, and that the extreme range of visibility -- based on earth's curvature and the relative heights -- should have allowed this.

But what troubles me is, do we have any hard data to indicate that the *luminance* of Boxhall's flares was sufficient to be noticed at up to 10 miles? For instance, I'm also aware of your premise regarding Rostron's probable misstatement of having spotted the first green light at "2:40" (from 20 miles away!), and I believe it's a sound one. But if so, Carpathia was really (as I think you indicated) within 8-10 miles of Boxhall when they first observed a flare. So there's some suggestion there that an observer on Californian might have had to be *closer* than the 10-mile *extreme* range of visibility (possibly as close as 8 miles) to pick out the flares at all, due to their limited brilliance. Add to this the fact that Rostron and crew would have been scanning intently for signs of Titanic, whereas the deck officers of the Californian were merely maintaining a "standard" watch ...

See my point? We know the theoretical extreme of *unobstructed* visibility for the socket signals, but do we have any such data for those "pyrotechnic lights"? Could they have simply been too dim to notice beyond a certain distance, even if that distance were well within the *extreme* range of potential visibility?

And strictly on a lighter note, would spotting those green flares have made any overall difference? After all, as Stone testified at the British Inquiry:
7952. When Gibson returned did he tell you what had passed between him and the Captain? - He told me he had woke the Captain up and given him my report; the Captain ... asked him if he were sure there were no colours in them, red or green.​
If they didn't heed -- or even enter into the log -- actual distress rockets, why would they pay any attention to mere "company signals"? ;^)

Best regards,
John Feeney
 

Dave Gittins

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I have got to admit I've not got data on flares from 1912 beyond the fact that, even by my reckoning, Rostron could see them at 10 miles or so. Modern hand flares are seen at up to about 11 miles. (From Pains Wessex)

You are probably right about them being taken for company signals, because that's just what they were. That's why they were kept handy where Boxhall could grab them.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Green, red, and white flares were used for signalling between shore and lifeboats in 1912. People on shore were supposed to guide boats to safety through the surf. This system is still active today and part of the US Coast Guard examination, although seldom used. Surf rescues were quite common prior to electronic navigaton when ships struck on reefs and offshore bars. I have always assumed Boxhall's "flares" were part of surfboat signals and not company signals.

-- David G. Brown
 
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