Superior mirage and the Californian

Julian Atkins

Julian Atkins

Member
Just as a bit of an aside, one can imagine Murdoch stating to Boxhall 'I don't want you to do your rounds - I want you here on the bridge with me because of all this ice warning stuff'. Boxhall replies he needs to be in his cabin because he isn't feeling well. Boxhall doesn't actually do any of his 'rounds' and stays in his cabin pretty much his whole watch, doing, as best he could his navigation stuff, in between having feverish episodes and feeling very unwell.

By 11.40pm and after a 'cup of tea' (perhaps an euphemism for a spell on the toilet) he feels somewhat better.

All the sort of stuff you would not want 2 Inquiries to hear about!

Cheers,

Julian
 
Rob Lawes

Rob Lawes

Member
Hi Julian,

In accordance with the IMM Rule Book, the ship had to conduct a comparison between the standard compass and the steering compass every half an hour. That's why Oliver was at the standard compass trimming the lamps and putting the covers back on.

It's an assumption however we do have to assume that Boxhall carried out this aspect of his duty. I think it is possible that on completion of that task he may well have stopped by his cabin or the officers mess to warm up but I don't think he sloped off and hid away all watch.

As for Murdoch being alone on the bridge, that's not quite true. There were three officers on watch, Murdoch, Boxhall and Moody. (plus two quartermasters).

Regards

Rob
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Hello Julian.

You cast the bait upon the waters and lo...the fish are biting.

If, like those who wrote these long-ago opinions you referred to knew a little more about the watchkeeping arrangments on a ship such as Titanic or any other ship, you and they would know that a Navigator such as Boxhall or Pitman would not have taken tea or any other beverage near their workplace which was the chart desk. A chart covered in spilled tea would take a great deal of explaining to a furious Commander.

Boxhall had compromisd night vision when he went to look at the berg.

Boxhall knew that one of the Watch QMs was off the bridge and at the Standard Compass just before impact.
The QM in question was, as you know, Frank Olliver. Olliver gave his evidence on Day 7 of the US Inquiry, 4 days after Boxhall told his story. The latter would not know what questions were to be put to QM Olliver nor what answers that witness would give. He would, therefore, have needed to be very careful as to the veracity of his evidence.
Knowledge of shipboard protocol would also make it very clear to you and others that there was no love lost between the officers and other ranks...no "buddy-buddy" syndrome or the likes. The evidence of Ernest Gill makes that abundantly clear.

Emergency boat 2 was launched about 30 minutes before Titanic sank. First, it was rowed out from the port side and remained there for a short space of time. Then it was rowed around the stern. The second action would have occurred about 15 minutes before Titanic sank. By that time, her stern would be well out of the water and her "spinning bits" and rudder exposed to the world.

As for the change of clocks?

There is evidence to suggest that Titanic slowed down - lost longitude - in the 5 or 6 hours just before she turned at 5-50 pm at the turning point. If she did, then she could never have covered the distance she did between Noon and the moment she hit the iceberg in 11 hours and 40 minutes without increasing speed. She did not.
This being so, then she covered that same distance in a longer space of time...24 minutes longer to be exact.
Rather than speculate about Boxhall's cup of tea, you should all be asking the question:

If Titanic did not slow down as she approached the turning point, why was it that 2 other vessels who covered exactly the same bit of ocean that very same morning, did? One lost 9 degrees of longitude and the other, 7 degrees of longitude.
 
Julian Atkins

Julian Atkins

Member
Hi Rob,

As I understand it, at precisely the time the ice berg was sighted, the only Officer on the bridge keeping a look out was Murdoch.

Hi Jim,

I just wanted to explore whether Boxhall was ill that evening.

Cheers,

Julian
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
I don't understand.

How can you do that? We know he was not in the pink of condition but that was long after the 15th of April...the following was on the 22nd May, over 5 weeks after the event
"The Solicitor-General:
I fancy Mr. Boxhall has not been very well. I know your Lordship will allow him to sit down.
15326. (The Commissioner.) Certainly, sit down, if you wish?
- I am quite right, My Lord, thank you".

His answers in the US were sharp and to the point and there is no indication of any illness then. Pleurisy is normally a secondary effect following a lung infection such as flu or pneumonia. There is no idication that Boxhall suffered any of these before leaving Titanic.

I
think your idea that somehow Boxhall's health had something to do with his evidence is like the true subject of this thread...a mirage.:rolleyes:
 
Rob Lawes

Rob Lawes

Member
Hi Rob,

As I understand it, at precisely the time the ice berg was sighted, the only Officer on the bridge keeping a look out was Murdoch.

Hi Julian,

When you put it like that. Yes.

Another to chalk up to the list of contributing factors. Lack of additional lookouts placed on watch.

In normal circumstances Boxhall wouldn't have been expected to lookout as he had navigational matters to attend to.

Moody would have presumably supervised the compass comparison from the wheelhouse end. I don't know what he would do in between. Perhaps on long runs where the course wouldn't necessarily change from one hour to the next he would be available as an additional pair of eyes when not supervising the QM?
 
G

george harris

Member
I don't understand.

How can you do that? We know he was not in the pink of condition but that was long after the 15th of April...the following was on the 22nd May, over 5 weeks after the event
"The Solicitor-General:
I fancy Mr. Boxhall has not been very well. I know your Lordship will allow him to sit down.
15326. (The Commissioner.) Certainly, sit down, if you wish?
- I am quite right, My Lord, thank you".

His answers in the US were sharp and to the point and there is no indication of any illness then. Pleurisy is normally a secondary effect following a lung infection such as flu or pneumonia. There is no idication that Boxhall suffered any of these before leaving Titanic.

I
think your idea that somehow Boxhall's health had something to do with his evidence is like the true subject of this thread...a mirage.:rolleyes:
Other "mirages" are people speculating that Captain Lord was drunk or that Captain Smith had too much wine at the Widener party.

George
 
Julian Atkins

Julian Atkins

Member
In normal circumstances Boxhall wouldn't have been expected to lookout as he had navigational matters to attend to.

As far as I can see it Boxhall spent an inordinately long time off the bridge working out the star positions then some compass deviations that occupied him over 2 hours depending on how you interpret his evidence. Certainly took no less that 2 hours till 10pm if not longer.

His answers in the US were sharp and to the point and there is no indication of any illness then.

Most of Boxhall's evidence on day 3 in the USA was totally non committal and evasive, except the exciting bits we know very well. Perhaps we ought to look at again the bits we don't concentrate on and don't know well? The non - exciting bits. (If the moderators want me to start a new thread or re-open an old thread on Boxhall I am happy to do so).

I just don't think Boxhall was quite 'with it' that evening, and a proper analysis of Boxhall and his infirmities might explain a lot. What is beyond despite is that for most if not all of his watch that evening he was definitely not on the bridge on look out, when extra 'eyes' might have been expected from the Officers.

From what we know of the bridges of other ships, Titanic singularly failed to plan ahead that night.

When Captain Lord saw the ice field he had Groves on the flying bridge with him plus an extra man in the forecastle head (the sharp end of the ship pointing forward).

(It is interesting to note that Evans and Durrant ought to have overheard the Mesaba message but Durrant made no record of it, and Evans didn't either).

When the ice berg was sighted on Titanic, the only officer on the bridge was Murdoch. Moody was in or adjacent to the wheel house, and Boxhall was either exiting the officers quarters or having a cup of tea in his cabin (the two are not incompatible I suggest).

You couldn't make this up!

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Rob Lawes

Rob Lawes

Member
Most of Boxhall's evidence on day 3 in the USA was totally non committal and evasive,

Hi Julian.

On the matter of Boxhall's work while on watch, I'll have to defer to someone who may know more as I really wouldn't know what was normal other than he would have to walk out to the standard compass every 30 minutes to carry out the compass comparison. Also I believe he was required to do rounds of the ship but I'm unsure of the frequency (I think David knows this)

As for his answers to the US Inquiry, funny how you bring this up now. I was on the train back from work today and was reading through Lightoller's testimony in the US. It quickly became apparent that things you would have expected him to answer with a relative degree of confidence were answered in the most generic way or not at all. I started to mentally tick off his answers and list them.

I know you'll know about open and closed questions. What I started to do his grade his answers as denial, vague, didn't know, answered in full.

I quickly realised its a big job and I need a bit of time but I think it will produce some interesting patterns.

Watch this space.
 
Julian Atkins

Julian Atkins

Member
In normal circumstances Boxhall wouldn't have been expected to lookout as he had navigational matters to attend to.

Whatever Boxhall had to work out as computations of star positions, and compass deviation he did by his own account took 2 hours at a minimum to do this.

I would like to hear from Sam and Jim what sort of time Boxhall might have been expected to carry out those functions.

On one interpretation of his evidence he completed the star stuff by 10pm, then took further time to work out the compass deviation, though he is ambiguous over this point.

He certainly seems to have taken quite a long time over all this?

Cheers,

Julian
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Whatever Boxhall had to work out as computations of star positions, and compass deviation he did by his own account took 2 hours at a minimum to do this.

I would like to hear from Sam and Jim what sort of time Boxhall might have been expected to carry out those functions.

On one interpretation of his evidence he completed the star stuff by 10pm, then took further time to work out the compass deviation, though he is ambiguous over this point.

He certainly seems to have taken quite a long time over all this?

Cheers,

Julian
The star sights were started by Pitman and completed by Boxhall.
In fact, he had them completed by around 9-30 pm when Smith came back on the bridge.

You have to keep in mind that everything was done by hand back then.
Arithmetic was long division... dot and carry one stuff. Plane and spherical trigonometry was the order of the day and Logarithmic Tables were used all the time. There were short-cut tables such as the Traverse Table but it would only have been used as a back up to check the calculations done "the long way". Working 6 stars would have been a long, laborious process which culminated in a plot for comparison. each calculation would have taken about 10 to15 minutes from start to finish. Without a rest, these would have taken well over an hour of continous work.

Star observations for compass comparison would have taken roughly 20 minutes to half an hour. They would consist of trip to standard paltform...remove compass helmet...take bearing ting the bell for Moody to note GMT...return to chartroom, start calculation.

Done seen it, got a drawer full of T shirts to prove it.
 
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Julian Atkins

Julian Atkins

Member
Hi Jim,

Many thanks for the above and for the time you have taken to reply to my query.

I find all the timings of the principle players on Titanic that night very odd.

Boxhall from 8pm spends 2 hours or more apparently in the chart room working out the earlier stellar observations. (He may have done this in his own cabin).

Captain Smith is at dinner in the first class dining room from 7pm or 7.15pm to who knows what time!

Lightoller's recollection of Captain Smith joining him on the bridge and saying not a lot for 25 or 30 minutes contradicts those present at the Widener's table of Captain Smith's attendance.

One might speculate that actually Lightoller's conversation with Captain Smith took possibly some 5 minutes by it's content as described/testified by Lightoller. Not 25 or 30 minutes!

Significantly (unless I have missed something) if Boxhall was working out these stellar observations then the compass deviation in the chart room, he never mentions Captain Smith returning from the Widener's dinner to his cabin and adjacent chart room. He ought to have done, if Captain Smith returned after dinner at the time Lightoller claimed, and if Boxhall was in the chart room.

Some of the pieces of the jigsaw do not fit together I suggest.

Cheers,

Julian
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
ello Julian.

Boxhall would never have done any navigation work in his cabin. All the necessary reference books, log book chronometer and tables would have been in the chartroom.

The Captain could have entered his accommodation from one of three directions, only one of which passed the door of Boxhall's cabin and the door of the Officer's Mess. If Captain Smith had used that entrance and found one of his junior officers away from his station, he would have had that officer's guts for garters.

There were 2 chart rooms: Captian Smith's private one and the communal one used by the Navigating officers. The former was on the starboard side of the wheelhouse, and the latter on the port side of the wheelhouse. The former had 2 entrances...1 from the Captain's day Room and the other from the starboard side of the wheelhouse. The latter had but a single entrance and it was located on the port side of the wheelhouse. There was no need for Smith ever to go to the communal wheelhouse. All the daily work was duplicated on his navigating room and kept updated by his Navigating Officers. Hence the reason for Boxhall standing at the Captain's chartroom door while the latter pricked-off the 7-30 pm sights on his personal chart.

I think you will find that Captain Smith would have spent at least 15 minutes on the bridge wing talking to Lightoller. he would stay there until he got his night vision, after which he and Lightoller would have been standing together on the bridge front platform leaning on the dodger and chewing the fat...it was almost a tradition. They would have discussed many things in that short time

Hope this helps in your quest for truth.
 
Rob Lawes

Rob Lawes

Member
"total speculation warning!!"

I know Smith had his own steward but I've no idea if the officers had a messman? I can however, we'll imagine that as Boxhall was able to leave the bridge in the normal execution of his duties, it was his job to ensure a hot brew was in preparation for the on coming and off going watches. This would involve him coming back in from the last compass check and putting a kettle on or starting to brew up.

Think about it, Boxhall was due off watch within half an hour (let's not quibble about clock changes for a moment) so why then with so little time left on his watch would he have a brew then. The timing doesn't make much sense.

As I said above, it's pure speculation but I could well imagine, 1912's popped into the mess to start brewing up for the oncoming officers, by 1962 had become 'drinking tea in his cabin'

Just a thought.
 
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