New Californian Book A Ship Accused is flawed


Status
Not open for further replies.
Sep 20, 2000
1,072
4
313
Daniel wrote: My point is, that this is not evolving to be a discussion about evidence and what may be more correct etc. We’re going into bashing the people and downgrading their intelligence (I am referring to a few threads about the Californian).

Daniel: An afterthough on the above. On review of the material posted here so far, I think I can say with assurance that quite the opposite is true. I don't perceive anyone here to be bashing "personalities", myself included; the discussion is not ad hominem, but ad librum!

Now. I'll admit -- it may not always be easy to distinguish warranted criticisms of a book from personal attacks on its author. But in this particular case, the posts speak for themselves. They've consistently addressed the content (and omissions) of the book itself. So I don't think a cry of "foul" is at all appropriate here.
 
Sep 20, 2000
1,072
4
313
Dave relayed (from ASA):

"Lord's evidence to the US Inquiry **may also suggest** [there's that phrase again! - DB] that the speaking tube was close at hand to where he was lying down...

"But we simply don't know about the dispersal of speaking tubes (own room or chartroom? Or both?), and the Californian is now lying at the bottom of the Mediterranean beyond any easy inspection...

"Yet the overall thrust of the evidence suggests [there's that word again - DB] a tube was in close proximity to Capt Lord throughout..."


Dave: Sorry, I'd been meaning to get back to you on the above. That *is* a pretty amazing stretch, considering the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Plus, the question fairly leaps forth: "To what avail?" (To suggest that all those "this may suggests" may somehow suggest that in the final analysis Lord might perhaps have been more-or-less unconscious most of the time, maybe??)

Like you (and unlike Molony), I see nothing whatever in the evidence to "suggest" multiple speaking tubes or any "close at hand". Nor do I perceive any *realistic* reason to even ponder this. In fact, the only discernible purpose for making such materially unwarranted speculations would seem to be simply to conjure up, out of thin air, some pretense of a "viable" excuse for Lord's lack of response.

But as you've pointed out, the evidence *repeatedly* indicates Lord's presence in the Chart Room -- Gibson certainly saw him there with his own eyes -- as well as his total inability to "answer the tube" without getting up and walking to his own room. How many times must this unambiguous observation be made before it's accepted??

So I have to admit, on a humorous note, your post reminded me of an old Vaudeville sketch:

"Excuse me sir, you've got a banana in your ear.
"What's that?"
"You've got a banana in your ear!"
"Come again?"
"I said, 'YOU'VE GOT A BANANA IN YOUR EAR!!!'"
"Sorry, I can't hear you; I've got a banana in my ear."

In the example you've provided, it would seem that Vaudeville is still alive and well!
 
Jan 21, 2001
144
1
263
Hi John:

Yes, you exactly hit upon the point that Senan is trying to make, "some pretense of a 'viable' excuse for Lord's lack of response" as you phrased it. Which brings me to two points.

First, you guessed correctly at what he's trying to do here, which relates to my first reason for not wanting to purchase it (curious as I was to read it): I suspected it was going to be predictable and familiar.

Second: What surprised me about this book was not the selectivity or the treatment of the material. That is what debaters (and laywers!) do; they pick and choose the material that they believe argues their case. This is why before going into deliberation, jurors are told they cannot use lawyers' arguments, or opening and closing statements as evidence when deciding a case, but they must stick to the testimony itself.

So I say, I was expecting that the book would pick and choose its preferred snippets, and it didn't disappoint me there. What surprised me was that on the thread where this book made its debut, it was billed as important and new (although there was no primary material here that wasn't available elsewhere prior to this book's publication), heralded with blurbs from readers who said it made them change their mind about the Californian; it made one person do a 180 deg turnabout; one person thought he had made a convincing case; etc.

That surprised me much more than the book's contents or arguments because it had none of that effect on me. If it had contained newly found information - a diary, a letter, a logbook - yes, I would have taken notice, but to close the book with a forlorn wish that maybe some new data will show up someday to support his four-ship theory... well, what can I say?

I still say as I did in my initial post on this thread. For those who just want an overview of the controversy, stick with Walter Lord's second Titanic book; he really does tell you everything you need to know; but for those who want to get in deep, keep the testimony close at hand.

Dave Billnitzer
 

Dan Cherry

Member
Dec 14, 1999
775
9
263
Hi, John,
you wrote:
Apparent contradictions should never be merely swept under the rug in deference to one's personal beliefs.

Exactly. It's the mentality rampant in society today. "If I don't like it, I'll rewrite it so it suits me." (Political correctness, anyone?)

In an attempt to stay true to the subjects I wrote about, I presented their viewpoints exactly as they told it, often with contradiction. Here is a classic example in my latest book project: "According to one witness...everyone in the room did XYZ...."
"Mr. X, also present, does not remember anyone being in the room at the moment it exploded."
Is "One witness's" viewpoint any less valid than "Mr. X's", when it is plainly clear that one person remembers the room half full of people and the other recalls it completely empty, save for himself, at the critical moment? I don't have the right to make that ascertation. I must present both recollections as each remembered it and let the reader decide. I never set out to prove a goal-driven point from the moment I typed the first sentence in the first chapter, other than to produce a fair and balanced, factual documentation of an historical event from start to finish. The testimony in itself was dramatic enough.
 

George Behe

Member
Dec 11, 1999
1,280
12
313
Hi, all!

I've just noticed a pretty significant contradiction in the book's discussion of the mystery ship's sidelights (a subject which, as is well known, plays an important role in the Californian controversy.)

In describing the order in which the mystery ship's red and green sidelights showed themselves to observers on board the Titanic, Fourth Officer Boxhall's testimony is quoted on page 18 of the book:

"I think I saw the green light before I saw the red light, as a matter of fact."

On page 43, however, the book makes the following claim in BOLD TYPE:

"The Titanic observers saw a red light throughout on their mystery ship."

This claim is repeated on page 44:

"We know the Californian is showing green all the while. And yet it is beyond contradiction that Titanic witnesses saw only red."

It has taken the book just 26 pages to forget all about Boxhall.

All my best,

George
 
Jan 21, 2001
144
1
263
Hi George:

I would add to what you already pointed out; it's in the middle of this, on p43, that this inaccurate statement is made, emphasis in original:

"Because the Californian is to the north, the Titanic, [bold] no matter which way she herself is facing [unbold], will always see the Californian's GREEN light."


Dave Billnitzer
 
Jan 21, 2001
144
1
263
Hi all:

There is a chart ("Appendix 4", p 233) in Senan's book where he brings together all of the "Ships Cited In Evidence" (as he captions it), and attempts to place them and their behaviors on a map. He is careful to present a disclaimer, "Sketch is rude chart and not to scale. Times quoted are those pertaining on the relevant observer vessel." I will attempt a short description of its layout:

Standard mapping convention, with N at the top. The ice barrier runs from N to S about one third of the way from the left hand margin. On the left side, ie, to the west of the ice barrier, is the Mt Temple arriving at the SOS position from the SW, having passed a mystery schooner. To the south of the SOS position and the Mt Temple is a "black funnel two-master", and shooting off to the North is the Almerian.

On the east side of the ice barrier, from North to South we have seven different ships:

1. the Californian, stopped at 10.21, pointing more or less NE.

2. immediately south of the CA, a mystery ship, "stops 11.30/11.40, moves 1.15am, departs circa 2.15 am". She spins around in a circle, clockwise, first heading due west, then through north, east, south, and finally departing to the SW, in the direction of the Titanic lifeboats.

3. directly south of the CA's mystery ship is a "yellow funnel unknown vessel, 4 am"

All three of these first ships are close upon the ice barrier, almost right up against it. Now, moving further south and east, we have:

4. the Titanic, impact with the berg near the right hand margin, far to the east of the ice barrier, striking her berg and sinking.

5. Slightly to the northwest of the Titanic, between the Titanic herself and the Californian's mystery ship, we have another "mystery steamer, first seen at 12.30 am, stern light c. 1.40 am." She spins in a wide circle also clockwise, first approaching the Titanic and then cruising around in a half arc. Her tracks disappear after turning around in the direction from which she came, but she seems to be headed off toward the Californian's mystery ship. In fact, their tracks seem as if they might intercept each other eventually.

6. Somewhat to the SW of the Titanic are her lifeboats, much nearer the ice barrier than the Titanic herself, and the Carpathia, having arrived from the SE.

7. Finally, the Carpathia's own "mystery steamer at 3.15 am" which is somewhat south and west of the Carpathia.

It's a crowded ocean out there, all these ships more or less converging on the lifeboats: Mt Temple coming up from the lower left corner, Carpathia coming up from the lower right corner, the Californian's mystery ship coming down the east side of the icefield and toward the lifeboat position before her tracks vanish, the Titanic's mystery ship spinning round in and heading off toward the Californian's mystery ship before *her* tracks also vanish.

And therein lies a clue to the riddle of the four-ship theory. Looking at this chart, it seems possible, with all that nautical sprawl (and major ice, to boot), that the Californian's "nearby" ship (heading SW'ly) eventually collided with the Titanic's "nearby" (heading NW'ly) while both were trying to find an exodus through the ice. KABOOMPF! Of course, both ships would conveniently sink without a trace afterwards, and with no one wondering about them.

Eureka! Mystery solved.

Dave Billnitzer
 
Dec 7, 2000
1,348
14
313
As much as I want to leave the Californian and Titanic discussions for the moment, George, I thought I'd respond to your post.

The point with the lights there, is although Boxhall did originally see the green light in the very beginning, later on and most of the Titanic's passengers/crew were observing the red light. As Sen points out later on, the Carpathia would not be showing her red light that soon. And if you argue that the ship the Californian was observing off her starboard side was the Titanic, (although seeing a green light at first) why was the red light visible for most of the time?

Perhaps, I'm misunderstanding, but I see no contradiction there.

One other thing, if some of Titanic's boats were pulling for the light of the ship that they saw, how come they never got any closer? Wouldn't that indicate that the ship was moving and steamed away from Titanic ... the Californian meanwhile was stationary and I don’t think it was observed from the Carpathia.

Daniel.
 

George Behe

Member
Dec 11, 1999
1,280
12
313
Hi, Daniel!

I'm in Grand Rapids at the moment and am away from my sources, but I'll take a chance and make a quick response.

> As Sen points out later on, the Carpathia would >not be showing her red light that soon.

Working strictly from memory (which, in my case, is a very dangerous thing), :) at 10:21 p.m. Californian was facing NE. By 2:20 a.m. Californian was facing WSW. That means Californian rotated approx. 200 degrees in a clockwise direction in about 4 hours (which, if this rotation was at a constant rate, comes out to about 50 degrees per hour.) Between 10:21 and 12:20 Californian would therefore have rotated approx. 100 degrees (clockwise) and would have been facing roughly SSE toward the Titanic (which roughly coincides with the time that Boxhall saw both of Cal's sidelights.) The Californian's green starboard sidelight would have disappeared from the Titanic's view well before 1 a.m. (which is approximately the time that many observers on the Titanic reported seeing the Californian's red port sidelight.)

>And if you argue that the ship the Californian >was observing off her starboard side was the >Titanic, (although seeing a green light at >first) why was the red light visible for most of >the time?

IMO because Boxhall saw Californian's green light very shortly before it would have vanished (between 12:30 - 12:45?), which means that Cal's red sidelight was the only one which would have remained visible between roughly 12:45 a.m. and 2:20 a.m. (which would indeed have been 'most of the time.')

Of course, it must be understood that the above timings and headings are only approximate -- but they do answer many more questions than they create. (At any rate, I hope Dave Billnitzer, Dave Gittins and John Feeney will correct any mistakes they might see in my above ramblings.)

>One other thing, if some of Titanic's boats were >pulling for the light of the ship that they saw, >how come they never got any closer? Wouldn't >that indicate that the ship was moving and >steamed away from Titanic ...

IMO, it merely indicates that five or six rowers who attempted to row a lumbering, heavily-loaded lifeboat a total distance of eight or ten miles were completely unequal to the task and that the lifeboats covered far less distance during the night than their crews *thought* they did.

It is unavoidable that both sides of the debate will quibble over details such as lights and headings. However, it is incumbent on Captain Lord's supporters to (1) explain how the Californian's mystery ship traversed the icefield in the dead of night and disappeared in the SW, and (2) explain why the Californian reported to the Virginian that she was within sight of the Carpathia and the lifeboats at 6:30 a.m. Californian Time.

(By the way, Daniel, have you changed your mind about the matter we discussed in our private emails?)

All my best,

George
 
Sep 20, 2000
1,072
4
313
Daniel wrote: One other thing, if some of Titanic's boats were pulling for the light of the ship that they saw, how come they never got any closer?

Daniel: Well, from Molony's chart (which I've now had the opporunity to review, through the kindness of a friend), I'd guess it's because the lifeboats were supposedly going the WRONG way! (Of course, there it's not like they "never got any closer"; it's more like they simply *bypassed* the "mystery ship" entirely, going a different direction at record speed!)

Your question struck a chord, so I went back for a look, and sure enough: Molony puts the Titanic's nearby "mystery ship" -- not to be confused with the Californian, of course -- due *north* of the wreck site, while the lifeboats are depicted significantly WEST of both ships (even for a crude rendering)! It really *looks* as if the occupants of the lifeboats simply decided to *ignore* that nearby "mystery ship" in favor of heading directly towards the ice barrier around Mount Temple's future location, the better (presumably) to instill massive confusion and cause later profound embarassment to poor Captain Moore. ;^)

Dave: Well put, in all respects -- this Chart has *enormous* problems, not the least of which is the implied *reversal* of the Gulf Stream, the only thing that could explain the positioning of Titanic's wreck WSW of the collision, with the lifeboats further west *still*.

Indeed, that "map" resembles a shopping mall parking lot this time of year! Thus we're presented, however inadvertently, with direct proof of the fundamental absurdities inherent in all of these multi-mystery-ship constructs. With all those ships supposedly wandering about in close proximity to both massive amounts of ice and each other, it's a wonder they didn't ALL sink without a trace! ;^)

"Sketch is rude chart and not to scale." [Thus captioned Molony.]

I think "rude" is exactly the right word. Forget any semblance of scale! This chart is insulting to the intelligence. By my reckoning, the mean interval between those various mystery and not-so-mystery vessels on the east side of the ice field is a whopping 4 miles. Yet for all that supposed nautical clutter, neither the Californian nor the Titanic ever witnesses more than ONE ship at any time. (Say what??)

Gotta admit, though -- I love the fanciful, near sideswipe shown of the Carpathia, with *her* mystery ship, as she wiggles furiously along. I can just imagine Rostron now -- screaming "Qui Vive, QUI VIVE!!!" at the top of his lungs. ;^)

In summary, it almost seems that "mystery ships" there are akin to "guardian angels" -- everybody appears to have at LEAST one. (Cripes, Californian even gets TWO!)
 

George Behe

Member
Dec 11, 1999
1,280
12
313
Hi, Nefarious!

>2. immediately south of the CA, a mystery >ship, "stops 11.30/11.40, moves 1.15am, departs >circa 2.15 am". She spins around in a circle, >clockwise, first heading due west, then through >north, east, south, and finally departing to the >SW, in the direction of the Titanic lifeboats.

If she didn't traverse the icefield in the dead of night, she would have had to steam southward right past the Titanic's lifeboats. (Needless to say, there is no evidence that *either* of these events took place.)

>3. directly south of the CA's mystery ship is >a "yellow funnel unknown vessel, 4 am"

It is the miraculous, unseen arrival of this vessel at 4 a.m. that makes me discount many of the supposedly specific observations that Stone and Gibson made during the night re: Californian's heading, the supposed bearing of the mystery ship, the 'departure' of the mystery ship to the SW etc. etc. Stone and Gibson were clearly not as observant that night as some people believe.

>4. the Titanic, impact with the berg near the >right hand margin, far to the east of the ice >barrier, striking her berg and sinking.

The book claims that the Titanic was roughly nine miles east of the main icefield. It also claims that the Titanic's iceberg was a lone, isolated berg (which is important when we consider your next point.)

>5. Slightly to the northwest of the Titanic, >between the Titanic herself and the >Californian's mystery ship, we have >another "mystery steamer, first seen at 12.30 >am, stern light c. 1.40 am." She spins in a wide >circle also clockwise, first approaching the >Titanic and then cruising around in a half arc. >Her tracks disappear after turning around in the >direction from which she came, .....

In other words, the Titanic's mystery ship supposedly steamed SE toward the Titanic, stopped (for no apparent reason) in clear water, made a wide turn to the south and west and retreated to the NW -- i.e. in the very same direction from which she had just come.

The question begs to be asked: if the Titanic and this mystery ship were really nine miles from the icefield, why did the Titanic's mystery ship perform all of these gyrations in clear water and then retreat toward the very icefield that she had apparently steamed away from?

All my best,

George
 
Jan 21, 2001
144
1
263
Hi Daniel:

>> One other thing, if some of Titanic's boats were pulling for the light of the ship that they saw, how come they never got any closer? Wouldn't that indicate that the ship was moving and steamed away from Titanic ... <<

George already hinted at this one, but below are some statements from a few of the boats that actually did try. Only a handful made the attempt, and their descriptions tell why their efforts failed:

Boat 8
“These men got into the boat under the pretense of being oarsman…. ‘I have never held an oar in my hand, but I think I can row’ …. Imagine asking men who are supposed to be at the head of lifeboats, imagine asking them if they know how to row!” (Mrs. White's testimony in the US)

Boat 3
Daisy Spedden’s diary told of rowing toward the light

Seaman Moore told of rowing into the wind, which had come up from the north

“Our men… hardly knew how to pull together. Two oars were soon overboard. The men’s hands were too cold to hold on. We stopped while they beat their hands and arms, then started on again….” (Elizabeth Shutes)

Boat C
QM Rowe described how the light was “the only stationary light,” that they did not seem to get closer to it, and that she “sort of hauled off” at daylight. Eventually headed toward the green lights (Boat 2) and then the Carpathia.

Boat 11
“We rowed around and tried to get to the other boats, to get close to them. We pulled toward a light, but we did not seem to get any closer to it, until daybreak…” (Wheelton) — it’s unclear whether their focus was to try to reach the light, or to try to find the other boats, or both at different times.

Boat 13
made a short attempt to row in the direction of the light but quickly gave up
Rowing was “lamentable” (Eva Hart)
“If our safety had depended on speed or accuracy in keeping time, it would have gone hard with us” (Lawrence Beesley)

Boat 16
“And we fancied we saw a light, sir, and we started to pull toward the light for a time, and then, after we had been pulling for it half an hour, we saw the Carpathia's side lights.” (Archer) — apparently did not spend much time trying to reach the light. Transferred a passenger to Boat 6.

Lowe's "flotilla" (4,10,12 14, D) remained pretty much near the wreck site all night long. Boats A and B were obviously out of the question. Boats 5 & 7 & 2 also remained close to the wreck site. Boat 1, the duff Gordon boat, just drifted about aimlessly. etc. etc.

The boats' failure to get nearer to the light says more about the ability of the individual boat's crew and the conditions they found themselves in, than it does about whether the light was there or not.

Dave Billnitzer
 

Paul Lee

Member
Aug 11, 2003
2,235
31
243
I've just got this booklet but haven't had a chance to read it all yet. I did have a read of the mystery ship section at the back.... did Senan do any search through Lloyd's List to verify they ships movements? if not, how did he do his research?

best wishes

Paul

 

Paul Lee

Member
Aug 11, 2003
2,235
31
243
Whoops, seems I have irked Senan a bit (particularly with regarding to the Californian swinging during the night, and the lights that the Titanic occupants saw)!

Cheers
Paul

 

Paul Lee

Member
Aug 11, 2003
2,235
31
243
Hi George (Behe)!

Just re-read the above posts. I was wondering if you could point out where Gibson says that his "mystery ship" pointed North?

Best wishes

Paul

 

Paul Lee

Member
Aug 11, 2003
2,235
31
243
Hi George,
I wonder if this occurred to Gibson at the time...? From my embryonic analysis of the lighting patterns as seen from the Californian, (and from the info on your website - thanks!), the ship seen would appear to be a smallish steamer as seen broadside on - mainly because the angle that the Titanic was from the Californian means that most of her deck lights would appear to be confined in a very small space.

I think.

Thanks again!

Paul

 

George Behe

Member
Dec 11, 1999
1,280
12
313
Hi, Paul!

I agree. Californian's foreshortened view of the Titanic's deck lights undoubtedly gave Gibson the impression that he was viewing a 'short' deck instead of viewing a 'long' deck from almost directly ahead.

All my best,

George
 

Paul Lee

Member
Aug 11, 2003
2,235
31
243
Hi George,
One day I will get some form of computer animation working on this subject, I promise!!

Cheers

Paul

 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads

Similar threads