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Superior mirage and the Californian

Discussion in 'Distance and Bearing' started by DarrenC, Dec 27, 2018.

  1. T Maltin

    T Maltin Member

    Hi Mila, What I am interested in is the conditions at or near the place where Titanic sank. Now at the time that Titanic sank Marengo was less than 150 miles away (fully half the distance you state she was), and by 4pm on the day of the sinking Marengo was passing only 46 miles due South of Titanic's crash site. In North Atlantic terms this is very near indeed (and at the right time). It is highly significant that throughout this area and time (and at no other time or place on her Atlantic crossing) Marengo reports bright stars and much refraction. You claim that I misled my readers by not spelling out how far away she was at the time of Titanic's sinking, but I say that I was educating my readers into the conditions present that night in the area where the Titanic sank. I also included a photograph of the log book itself, including the recorded position of the ship and the refraction references, so my readers could see the primary material for themselves. As for your point about that air temperatures being warmer than the water when Marengo gave her readings, they were in fact generally colder than the water, except at noon on the day of Titanic's collision (marked Inv. below). It is a myth that the air has to be at least about three degrees warmer than the sea at the point of observation to make superior mirage refraction effects visible, as the log book below demonstrates. Clearly they are looking across areas where the sea is much colder than the air. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, refraction effects can be present even when air and sea temperatures have equalised at the surface, provided a strong inversion is present (and near) in the air column above. The Titanic sank in part of a large area of the North Atlantic where the cold waters of the Labrador Current flow into and mingle with the warm water of the Gulf Stream. The below readings are taken right through that area and are testament to the visual effects caused when cold and warm waters meet. In particular, note that that the water temperature in Degrees F halves (from 60.2 to 33.5) at the moment when Marengo is directly south of Titanic's crash site (and the air temperature suddenly drops almost 10 Degrees F (as Lightoller noted on Titanic, as she entered the Labrador Current from the East). And what conditions do we see there: "Much refraction" and "Great refraction". This is important evidence for the conditions of visibility present at Titanic's crash site.
  2. Mila

    Mila Guest

    I of course meant the temperature of the air was colder than the water. BTW, when Marengo that I assume operated on New York time was 150 miles away from the wreck site at around the time the Titanic sank, according to your own book the inversion at the wreck site was gone.
    Otherwise as I said I give up.
  3. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Nice diagram, Tim.

    You completely miss or ignore several points.
    1: Titanic could never have been turned toward the stopped Californian. it was a practical impossibility.
    2: If by some miracle she had been turned and Californian was 10 miles away...since Californian would have been very clearly visible to both Fleet and Lee for at least 32 minutes before Titanic hit the iceberg, why did they fail to see her in all her glory on such a clear night?
    3. If, according to Bisset, Californian was stopped 10 miles to the northward of Boxhall, how was it that they all (including Bisset) saw Boxhall's green flares but failed to see a stopped ship 10 miles to the northward of him at 4 am?

    However(and you just knew there would be an "however")... When the people on Titanic's bridge saw the light ahead, they all first saw it was a white light.
    Boxhall looked through his binoculars or a telescope and made-out two white masthead lights - one higher than the other - the lower one slightly to the left of the high one. This indicated a ship approaching on a course that would take her down Titanic's port side if she kept on coming. Crucial to this, is the fact that the same ship would, at that moment be showing her red light in the direction of Titanic. At that same moment, if Californian had been in sight of Boxhall, he would have seen two white lights, -one higher than the other- but in this case, the lower one would be to the right of the higher one. Not only that, but at that moment, Californian was showing a green light in the direction of Titanic. If you do not believe me, I am sure you have access to nautical experts who will confirm this. This is what I mean:
    12-30 am.jpg

    The above is grossly exaggerated for illustration purposes (JC)

    Your idea of thermal inversion seems to only have worked in one direction, Tim. Otherwise, how do you explain the evidence given by Rostron that he saw Boxhall's green flares when Carpathia was still 20 miles southeast of Boxhall and the survivors in Boat 2, yet the same green lights were never seen by anyone, including a lookout, on a ship which, according to you, was only 10 miles away?

    However, all is not lost. you may be partly correct and there was a smidgen of atmospheric refraction. It would explain why Rostron stated:
    "At 2:40, I saw a flare, about half a point on the port bow, and immediately took it for granted that it was the Titanic itself."

    At 2-40 pm, Carpathia was about 20 miles away from Boxhall.
    However. if Rostron's eye was 65 feet above the sea surface and Boxhall's flare was 10 feet above it, then a total of 14.04 miles separated them. That is a difference of 5.96 miles. Mirage or mis-read log book?

    Despite Rostron's imagination, Carpathia was averaging no more than 15 knots. If the two were actually 14.04 miles apart when Rostron saw Boxhall's flare, then he saw it at 3-04am, not 2-40 am.
    If it was mirage effect, then the effect was of showing lights at a distance of 42.5% greater than the true distance and if Rostron saw them at 20 miles, then Californian must have been farther away from the source than 20 miles.
    The time difference between Carpathia and Californian would have been very small, therefore, Californian could not have missed seeing Boxhall's green flares if she was any nearer than 20 miles from the source
  4. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    My two cents.

    1: I believe the alleged order 'full speed astern' was pure fiction for the benefit of proving they had plenty of time to react and avoid the iceberg and avoid any cases of negligence against them, and the same would apply to the alleged answering of the crows nest phone which Fleet said was not answered (outside the Inquiry) and the alleged order 'hard a-starboard' which most likely was also fictional because nobody felt the ship heel over and Boxhall's timing between the bell ringing and the collision itself did not allow any time to turn the helm away or answer the phone. Also Hichens did not mention the order when questioned by a reporter and Boxhall did not mention the order when he recalled the events in 1962 despite remembering the smallest trivial details such as a ragtime song played by the band. Overall this would mean the ship could have turned north immediately after the impact as they did not change course prior to the collision as the iceberg took them entirely by surprise which was something they dared not admit to at the Inquiry.

    2: I understand the lookouts were told to keep a sharp lookout for small ice and growlers. Perhaps they saw the light of the Californian and dismissed it as a star because Captain Lord had the same trouble with the stars, as well as the lookout on the Parisian. Perhaps the lookouts were instructed to specifically report anything ahead which posed danger and dismissed the ship they could see off their starboard bow as it posed no danger to them, but when the Titanic turned north the light moved across their bow and that is when the lookouts reported the ship ahead.

    3: I recall Captain Rostron said his officers saw the lights of a ship to the northward as they approached Boxhall's green flare, and they mistakenly believed the green light was the Titanic herself and they thought she was further away than the other ship owing to the weakness of the green light which created the illusion she was the Titanic further away, when she was really Boxhall's boat.

  5. Julian Atkins

    Julian Atkins Member

    Hi Tim,

    I found your analysis very interesting, and is pretty much what Sam Halpern concluded, though from a different perspective, and I am not going to argue about a difference of 2 or 3 miles!

    Hi Mila,

    I think you are being rather unfair on Tim about the Marengo's position. It is evidence from the log book that a 'mirage'/abnormal refraction had been observed and recorded, and ought (as all the primary source evidence) be considered.

    I am in no position to judge the relevance of the Marengo's log book entries to Titanic and 'The Californian Incident'. Tim has been gracious enough to reply to all our questions most politely and promptly.

    Mila, if you think the Marengo log book entries are totally irrelevant because of being too far from where and when Titanic sank, then just say so! Anything more becomes personal and beyond a simple disagreement and exchange of views.

    (I've been through this countless times over 'The Californian Incident' but despite some very strong disagreements all my adversaries I count as friends).

    Mila, your own position is not helped by your own work being subject to a payment to a Journal to access, whereas Tim's work is pretty much in the public arena.

    If it is your aim to 'trash' Tim's work, then might I suggest you would do it from a better position if you made freely public your own work?


  6. Mila

    Mila Guest

    Hi Julian,
    What an unbelievabale response !

    Yes I believe that it is dishonest to make such claim as this one
    Because Marengo was nowhere close to the wreck site "On the night of the collision and sinking".

    And, no, Julian, you may not suggest where I should publish my reserch!
    I prefere to publish it in reputable Journal where it is reviewed by at least 4 people, and not in self publishing book services to sell it later on Amazon.

    BTW two of my first articles were availabale for free for a while and I did post the links to them and as I told you they are or they will be availabale in libraries.

    Now, I am trying hard to assume good faith but your post above almost looks as Tim asked for your help...Just saying...

    All the best.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2019
  7. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    I can clear that one up for you.

    The lookouts weren't qualified to make a judgement as to what did or didn't pose a danger to their vessel. Yes they were told to keep a sharp lookout for Ice but that would not and never have been at the expense of all other objects. If something was there it would have been reported.

    As an example, let's say that the lookout spots a contact on a relative bearing of 45 degrees from the bow on the port side. (Red 45'). In your speculation, you may consider this to be of no danger to the vessel.

    In actual fact, this would be reported to the officer of the watch who would observe the contact for himself (if he had not already seen it) and take a bearing. This bearing would be noted (let's say it was 235). A short time later, the OOW would return to that contact and take a bearing again. From this he could learn one of three things. If the bearing was now 240 the vessel was drawing to the right and would, if it didn't alter course, pass in front of his ship. If it was now 230 the contact was drawing left and would pass away off to port safely. If the bearing remained 235, the ship was on a steady bearing and was heading for exactly the same patch of water as the OOW. Unless one of the two ships took avoiding action in accordance with the navigational rules of the road a collision would occur.

    As you can see, there is no angle from the bow which could be considered "safe" as depending on the approaching ships course and speed it will depend on where it will pass or meet the ship it is approaching.


    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
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  8. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Mila has been very kind and sent me a copy of Morengo's Official Log Book. From it, I have plotted exactly, the noon positions of that ship on April 14 and April 15. The most relevant information from the plot is that when Titanic hit the iceberg, Morengo was at about 58-23'West and about 386 miles on a bearing of 262 True from the sinking Titanic
    However, the most important information to be gleaned from the Log Book of that vessel is the fact that she never did experience a south-setting current and in fact, logged a current setting her NE at half a knot. Strangely enough, she did not record this current during April 14 but her DR for 8 pm April 15 as supplied by you, Tim, shows that she encountered it south of the Titanic disaster sight and thereafter. This was exactly the same current that pushed Carpathia northward and eastward of her intended track in the direction of the false distress position.
    T Maltin likes this.
  9. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    No, Julian, the main current in the area was most certainly not the Labrador Current. The log books of the Morengo and the Almerian show this very clearly.
  10. Mila

    Mila Guest

    So, Jim, are you saying that on the night of the sinking Marengo was not exactly " in the same longitude as the Titanic and only one degree south?"
  11. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Absolutely Not!
    As for the distance of 47 miles? Morengo was 47 miles on a bearing of about S18W at or near to 1 pm on the afternoon of April 15.
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  12. Mila

    Mila Guest

    Thank you, Jim.
    Well, the only time Marengo did not record seeing "much refraction" was on 12 noon on April 15, which means that Tim really cannot say that Marengo ever observed "much refraction" when she was only 1 degree south. There is no record about in the log to prove such claim.
    However, Jim, I disagree that we could make any conclusions on the navigation of Titanic and Californian based on Marengo's logs. Marengo was never in such cold waters as Titanic and Californian. Look at the water temperatures she recorded.
  13. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Good work. I believe the rapidly changing temperatures would play a significant role in optical illusions, especially on such a clear calm night.

    I have plotted the positions of the Marengo on the map here.


    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
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  14. Julian Atkins

    Julian Atkins Member

    Get your magnifying glasses out to read the above!

    Hi Mila,

    I have never corresponded with Tim, don't know his email address, we haven't exchanged PMs on here (as the moderators can confirm) and my only interaction with Tim is via this thread and our posts the last few days.

    When considering 'The Californian Incident' I like to consider all options and possibilities and then form my own conclusions.

    Tim has boldly posted on here with a 'cards on the table' approach, but we cannot examine your own research unless we join up to the Royal Meteorological Society Journal at some expense!

    It seems to me somewhat unfair to knock Tim, when your own research can only be accessed by paying for it!

    I think to call someone "dishonest" on this forum, when the Marengo log has been freely available on here, and we can all assess the coordinates and dates, is a bit out of order.

    I think it is David Brown who stated many times on here he was reluctant to introduce the 'mirage' effect into the Titanic and Californian debate and said something to the effect 'if you hear hooves it's a horse, not a zebra' (apologies if I have misquoted), and then went on to give various examples of the 'mirage'/abnormal refraction he had experienced at sea.

    We ought to be having a proper open debate without accusing others of dishonesty.


    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
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  15. Mila

    Mila Guest

    Well, Aaron, with no time posted it is not a very helpful map.
    Marengo recorded seeing refraction on 8 am., and the next time on 4 pm. So we have zero evidence on what was there between those times. Also I did contact a Rear Admiral and a former Chief investigator of marine accidents John Lang who also wrote a book on the Titanic. He told me that he was aware of Marengo "evidence" and he found it to be irrelevant because he told me there was no way of knowing what exactly they meant under "much refraction".
  16. Mila

    Mila Guest

    Sorry, Julian, but what an absurd comment it is!
    Original Marengo logs is only available here because I posted them. Besides what about thousands of readers of the Maltin's book and watchers of the documentary? Do they have to go to the forum to see these logs? Why readers who have never seen a log in their life and do not know how to read one should be even looking at them? They would trust an author who tells them what is written in these logs, and it better be the truth!
    Another absurd comment. No research is needed to tell that it is dishonest to knowingly claim that Marengo was only 1 degree south of the wreck site, when in reality she was not anywhere close!
    And there are some other examples like these in Tim's book.

    From your two posts above I got an impression that you do not know what you're talking about. That's why I thought Tim asked for your help. If it is not so then I'm sorry for my assumption.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2019
  17. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Here is a position marker which calculates the distance between two points. I see the Marengo was a mere 30 nautical miles from the Titanic wreck when they saw "much refraction". I believe the Titanic saw the same thing the night before, especially from the height of their crows nest.


    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  18. Julian Atkins

    Julian Atkins Member

    Hi Mila,

    It would be an odd occurrence that as I do not know what I am talking about Tim would ask for my help!!

    I freely admit I have not the slightest idea about a 'mirage'/abnormal refraction effect.

    I also concede that you have provided the relevant full log pages of the Marengo on here, though in respect of excerpts Aaron beat you to it earlier this year.

    It would be fair to ask of Tim whether he had the full log that you have at the time he wrote his book.

    Many people make genuine mistakes in respect of the Titanic/Californian. Some very well known researchers have made all manner of mistakes. I could quote many examples, but I think my favourite is the report by Captain Gambell of the Virginian of the timing of The Californian messaging back "Can now see Carpathia taking passengers on board from small boats" very early on the morning of 15th April apparently.

    And Evans' wireless message to Durrant on the Mount Temple "Can you see a pink funneled steamer?" And Paul Lee's "Can see Mount Temple, stopped" which was not that The Californian was stopped (as Paul stated), but the Mount Temple was stopped!

    All genuine mistakes; no dishonesty. You have to have the Virginian's PV to decipher Captain Gambell's UK press report... when all becomes clear. This tripped up George Behe (for awhile - though he might have been playing devils advocate), Paul Lee for sure, and Leslie Reade also!


    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  19. Mila

    Mila Guest

    Julian, I doubt Aaron beat me. Could you give the link please?
    Of course "genuine mistakes" could happen (I make them too), but Tim knowingly falsified the statements he made about Marengo, and yes, he did see the logs. He published parts of them in his book, except they are very hard to read. Above in this very thread I posted a link to his documentary when he looks at the logs in the archive, and talks about Marengo being at the right place at the right time. Really?
    I assume you did not see the link, and did not read my post that accompanied it, yet for some reason you felt as you could attack me! I am really disappointed in your conduct's Julian.
  20. Mila

    Mila Guest

    And who told you that the refraction is seen better from the height, Aaron? It is absolutely not the case. Sometimes (most of times?) it is seen better from the sea level. There are free books on the NET in which researchers describe situations in which they saw a mirage from the deck, and it was completely gone, when they were climbing masts. I also noticed the same occurrences.