Yes, Fleet's account does seem specific and has a 2-point reference but his fellow crew member in Lifeboat #6, QM Hichens, seemed less certain and as you know, was ambiguous. But even in being ambiguous, Hichens did not think that Lifeboat #6 was the first port side lifeboat launched. As for Ella White and Marie Young, they were only quoting from one reference point of a "second" lifeboat and so IMO less reliable.In support of No. 6 being lowered before No. 8 there is the very specific primary evidence account of Frederick Fleet that No. 6 was lowered before No. 8. Then there are the primary accounts of Ella White, and Marie Young that No. 8 was the second boat lowered.
In support of Lifeboat #8 being the first port boat to reach the water, there are very specific accounts from Major Peuchen, Fahim al_Zainni and Martha Stone all of whom saw a lifeboat lowered to the sea before their own Lifeboat #6. As I have said before, I am particularly impressed by the specific simplicity of Martha Stone's statement in which she said that just before she boarded her Lifeboat #6 she leaned across the ship's rail and saw a partially loaded lifeboat already on the water. That could only have been Lifeboat #8. Mrs Stone would have had no reason to make that up and with such a specific thing, there is hardly any room for an error.
As for secondary accounts in support of Lifeboat #8 being lowered before Lifeboat #6, there are a few. Mrs Stone's maid Rose Icard, also rescued on Lifeboat #6, said that their boat was the second one, as did Julia Cavendish. Ellen Bird, Mrs Staus' maid, saw her mistress get out of the "first lifeboat" in the last minute; this was from Lifeboat #8 of course. Then just today Craig Stringer posted the quote below in a private message.
Mrs J.J. Brown told the Newport News on May 28th that she turned away from seeing Mme de Villiers into a boat, only to find her friend, Mrs Bucknell, in a lowering boat. Mrs Brown was still on the Boat Deck at that point. Since Mrs Bucknell left in 8, and Mrs Brown in 6, it would indicate that boat 6 was still not lowered when Mrs Brown saw boat 8 being lowered.
I think that statement is more than a little suggestive and a better description of what Caroline Bonnell said. Berthe Mayne (Mme de Villiers) was on Lifeboat #6 as was Molly Brown but what the latter is saying here is that she saw Ms Mayne climb into Lifeboat #6 and even before she could follow the other woman into the same boat, she saw another friend, Emma Bucknell, in a lifeboat that was already being lowered. Mrs Bucknell was saved on Lifeboat #8.
I have already accepted that it is quite likely that Lifeboat #6 started loading before Lifeboat #8 and many people who were saved on one or the other of those boats might have been commenting from that point onwards. But the delays and difficulties associated with launching of Lifeboat #6 (Mary Douglas commented on that) could have caused it to reach the water several minutes after Lifeboat #8, which expereinced no issues in its launching.
Sorry Sam, but in this case I have. For the time being at least.So pick you favorites.