Navigation in Southampton Water

Clockworkpiggy

Clockworkpiggy

Member
In Geoffrey Marcus' excellent book "The Maiden Voyage" he superbly describes the tricky navigation at noon on 10th April 1912 undertaken by Capt. Smith and Pilot George Bowyer to safely navigate the colossal liner from Ocean Dock, through Southampton water, round Calshot Spit, into the Thorn Channel, round West Bramble buoy onto Spithead and the Nab.

She initially docked in Southampton, fresh from her sea trials in Belfast Lough, at around midnight on 2nd April. In the dark of night, the hair-raising manoeuvres were presumably even more difficult to execute.

Do we know whether Capt. Smith also had the inestimable talents of "Uncle" George Bowyer as Pilot on that occasion?
 
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Harland Duzen

Member
Hello Clockworkpiggy,

As far as I'm aware, no record has yet been found stating George Bowyer helped dock Titanic around midnight on April 3rd / April 4th, but it is generally assumed by some sources* that he did.

Unfortunately Bowyer post disaster (again as far as is known) did not publicly speak at all about the Titanic or his brief time on her bridge. In his memoirs "Lively Ahoy" it is stated* that he only wrote exclusively about Olympic with a brief reference to Captain Smith.

In theory, Trinity House, the Southampton, Portsmouth or Isle of Wight Pilots service might have a logbook of this service archived somewhere along with any surviving relatives. But that's just a guess.

I hope this helps somewhat.


* "Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage" is one such source.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
She did not arrive at the dock at Midnight....she arrived at the piot station at the NE tip of the Isle of Wight. Her average speed round from Belfast was 18 knots. Therefter the tricky bit began.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Not sure. I have a copy of the Harbour Master's reprt somewhere but can't find it. Anyway, They would be up off the berth in the wee small hours. That is a tortuous channel with loads of sand banks on the way up there. Bad enough now but way back then, dredging techniques were a little more basic.
 
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Harland Duzen

Member
On Paul Lee's website, he has a photocopy of the Southampton Dock Record for April 4th and it states Titanic arrived at Berth 44 at 1.15am with "brought forward" written above it. However when she technically arrived is a bit shaky*.

http://www.paullee.com/titanic/tnav.php

(I think this was discussed a while ago on another thread somewhere?)
(Also, hello Jim!)
 
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Ioannis Georgiou

Member
On Paul Lee's website, he has a photocopy of the Southampton Dock Record for April 4th and it states Titanic arrived at Berth 44 at 1.15am with "brought forward" written above it. However when she technically arrived is a bit shaky*.

That's the times she "docked" at berth 44.


(I think this was discussed a while ago on another thread somewhere?)

Out from memory, more than once.
 
Clockworkpiggy

Clockworkpiggy

Member
Thanks. The docking log is interesting. (The "brought forward" marries with the "carried forward" instruction at the foot of the sheet and is just a book-keeping direction and doesn't have a bearing on the timing).
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
The Start of a voyage is when the pilot leaves and FoaP (Full away on Passage) is rung down on the engines. The end of a voyage (EoP)End of Passage is when the ship slows down for the piltot. In the case of Titanic, that would have been at the pilot station at the Nab,
The pilot would have boarded from a cutter and made his way to the bridge where after the formalities he would con the ship up the buoyed channel toward the port limits of Southampton off Cowes. IOW.
Since it is 11 miles from the port limits to the port of Southampton, it would have taken her a good 2 hours at slow speeds from there to until she arrived off the WSL dock. Then she would need to stop, make fast the tugs and make a 180 degree turn in the darkness with other vessels anchored nearby.
If Lightollers average speed of 18 knots was correct, then, since it is 366 miles Pilot to Pilot, Titanic took 31,5 hours to steam from Belfast to The Nab pilot station. The distancbe is She left Belfast about 8 pm. that makes her time of arrival at the pilot to have been 1-30 am. From there, she would have taken at least 3 hours to arive off th WSL Dock This would get her there just as dawn was breaking.
 
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Ioannis Georgiou

Member
Senator SMITH. What time did you reach Southampton?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. About midnight.
Senator SMITH. How long did it take to make the run to Southampton?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. About 24 hours.
Senator SMITH. Did you strike any heavy weather?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. No, sir.
Senator SMITH. How fast did you go?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. About 18 knots.

We had it already several times here on ET, however arriving at Southampton was about midnight with 1:15 a.m. at her berth 44.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Ioannis, I know we have been over t his before, but the maths don't work.
it is 466 miles, Pilot to Pilot....Belfast to Southampton ( I made a typo in my last post) and 499 miles port to port . If Titanic left Belfast at 8 pm one night and took 24 hours on passage, with no impediment - and arriving at the Pilot at 8pm the next night, then she would have steamed 466 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of almost 19.5 knots, not 18 knots. This is remarkable not only because she was a new ship and they run-in new ships, but although there is no record of her doing so, she would have slowed down for 4 hours from 2 am to 6 am due to fog. The reason why I know she must have slowed down is beacause the area in question arount The Isle of Man was one of the most congested ones in the Irish Sea with many small craft...mainly fishing boats and crossing coasters. To proceed at full speed in total darkness and in fog in such an area would have been criminal to say the least.
The trip from the Pilot up to the berth was a further 33 milea along very narrow, twisting channels netween sand banks marked only by by
very small buoy lights. This would have been negotiated at less than half speed... 8 or 9 knots and woud have taken about 4 hours. Then,on arrival off the berth, the tugs would be made fast,, at least one at the bow and one at the stern and 2 for pushing. When tital conditions were right, the ship would be rotated left not turned , becase there was no room for a normal turn. at one point, she woud be cross tide and or river current. Thereafter, she would be backed into the center of the WSL dock before being warped and pushed onto berth 44. I am sure I don't have to tell you that woud have taken a great deal of time.

Incidentally, a ship has 2 arrival times...end of passage and finish with engines.
 
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Ioannis Georgiou

Member
Titanic was making over 18 knots on April 3rd. Wilding even stated she made about 23-l/4 knots for several hours.
However other people aside from Lightoller had the arriving about midnight as well documents.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Before I answer you. Ioannis, I should point out , the last distances I quoted are via the West Solent obtained from an old Table The actual, chart-measured distances are shown below.

The Wilding speed of 23 3/4 knots comes from the Limitation of Liability hearing held 3 years after the event. It was the result of a very short maximum rpm trial on the morning of the 3rd April around 9-30 pm. Thereafter, they resumed cautionary full speed rpm. Here is the kind of conditions Titanic would encounter on April 3, 1912
1599575597538

Note that Titanic was heard by the W/O on Olympic which at the time was at Cherbourg, when the former was abeam of Lizard Point at 1.35 pm on the afternoon of April 3 and had about 170 miles to run from there to the Pilot station. She would have been stemming the tide until High water at Dover. However, to reach the pilot station by 8 pm, she would have needed to have averaged a speed of over 26 knots and that is absurd. On the other hand, at an average speed of just over 16 knots allowing for the tide, she would arrive at the Pilot Station at about Midnight. Note the currents she would have had + and - during that short voyage. As a matter of interest, it seems that she averaged about 18.35 knots from Belfast to Noon that day.

You quoted Lightoller, Ioannis. Since he was one of the Navigators on board. I simply point out to you that if he quoted a speed of 18 knots then there was something wrong with the arrival time. He would only get that number if he calculated the average speed at Noon, April 3, or at some time during a Watch or at the the end of the voyage. The intermediate speeds do not matter.
I found the 1-35 pm time somewhere a long time ago . If I can find it a gain, I will refer you to it. Meantime, here is a mock-up of Titanic's Log Book which I made at the time. You might find it interesting.
1599583141945

1599582995035


1599581429506

The distances shown are actual per chart and via the East Solent.

Have fun.
 
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