Superior mirage and the Californian

Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Julian, working out sights was a very tedious task. As Jim said, Pitman started the process soon after the sights were taken. He probably got as far as correcting all the numbers for known corrections such dip, sextant index error, atmospheric refraction, and time adjustments to bring all sights to common time point reference in GMT. That was the easy stuff. Boxhall would have to do the sight reductions, and even with the help of printed tables, as Jim said, it would take a very long time. We know he completed this work before Lightoller left the bridge because he showed the 7:30pm position to Lightoller before going to Capt.Smith's chartroom for Smith to put onto hs chart. I believe Boxhall mentioned seeing Smith last around 9:30 which would have been after Lightoller and Smith had spoken. By the way, Smith was back from his unofficial social obligations before 9. (You can forget about the Daisy Minahan's affidavit where she said she saw Smith leave Widener party between 9:25 and 9:45. . Daisy was in bed by 9:30 according to her sister-in-law Lillian Minahan who left the part the same time that Daisy and her brother did.) What I find interesting, however, is that 1/O Murdoch allowed Boxhall to work on sights for compass deviation error instead of having him stand watch out on the bridge, given that he expected to be up to the ice at any moment. Perhaps, Murdoch was bit overly confident in his own ability to spot ice in time to avoid and decided he did not need an extra pair of eyes out on the bridge with him.
 
Julian Atkins

Julian Atkins

Member
Hi Jim and Sam,

Thank you for your replies to my query.

And in respect of Jim's reply, I never knew there were 2 chart rooms on Titanic till today!

Cheers,

Julian
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior 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.
Hello Rob.

There were 2 messroom stewards/pantrymen who would look after the officers. They had a cabin opposite the Officer's Pantry and Smoke Room.
However, at night, it was usually one of the duties of the Standby QM to see that officers were called at 1 bell and that the hot water boiler was full and boiling before that time. If Cadets (Midis) were carried, they would perform such duties. Gibson did that for Stone on the Californian. Officers did not normally have hot beverages during a Watch. However, if they did, it would usually be about 2 hours into the Watch. Too much liquid caused a problem regarding a "kidney break. Have a look at the boat deck plan...a long way to run with legs crossed:eek:.

I think you are right about the "cuppa tea". The story about it came after ANTR. Haven't seen it. Did Boxhall have a cuppa in the relevant scene? I can imagine the Director or scriptwriters coming up with it.:rolleyes:
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
PS Nearly forgot. You mention pure speculation.

The idea that Boxall was off the bridge to carry out the mandatory compass check also ranks as pure speculation.

We have absolutely no idea what Boxhall was doing. All we know for sure is that QM Olliver, a member of the same Watch, was performing a standard duty...trimming the wicks in the Standard Compass oil lamp... a duty, I suggest to you, that would be planned before the compass check took place. I can just imagine the fireworks if an officer arrived at the compass to do the regular check to discover that he could not see the card because the wick had not been maintained properly. It might be argued that Boxhall had found the light too dim and had ordered Olliver to make things right and he, Boxhall was waiting to go back up to the compass platform. If so, why did he go to the bridge instead of back to the compass? 3 bells usually meant a ship's lights seen way ahead...not an iceberg.

You mention clock changes. A Compass check would have been planned at or near to One Bell. The reason for this being that it would be the very latest update on compass error for the next Navigating team taking over in 15 minutes. Thus, the last compass check would have been due to take place at or near to 12-09 am, April 14 time.

Just thinking.
 
Rob Lawes

Rob Lawes

Member
I was under the impression that the compass checks were mandated to take place every half an hour?

If that is not the case I may have miss understood a discussion in a different thread.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
I was under the impression that the compass checks were mandated to take place every half an hour?

If that is not the case I may have miss understood a discussion in a different thread.
No, Rob, you did not misunderstand. There was a very sound reason for the Compass check intervals

The Compass checks would not be made at the time of a Watch changeover Too much to do at and just before and after that time.
There would have been one at 11-45 am before Noon and 30 minutes thereafter. It follows that if there was no planned clock change, then there would be a check due at 11-45 pm. This means that when the Watch was handed over, the latest compass check was only 15 minutes old.
This held good for the Senior as well as the Junior Watchkeepers. Thus when Lightoller handed over to Murdoch the Compass error on the Course Board was the very latest version.
However, if the clocks were to be set back 24 minutes at midnight and the compass error had been determined at 11-45 pm unaltered time, then when Pitman relived Boxhall in the normal way, the compass error would already have been ancient history and contrary to intentions. i.e instead of being no more than 30 minutes old, it would have been 39 minutes old.

11-45 pm...compass check.
add 15 minutes.
Midnight (1) - subtract 24 minute
Time 11-36.
add 24 minutes.
Midnight (2) -Watch changeover.
Interval since compass check = 15 + 24 = 39 minutes.

However, if there had been such a clock change, then when the 3 bells were heard at or near to 11-40 pm the compass error check was due in 5 minutes and Boxhall was on his way to relieve Moody so that the latter could go to the Compass platform and take a star azimuth. Moody could do so with confidence since QM Olliver had made sure the lights on the compass binnacle were in good order for the task. However, events changed the good intentions.

Just saying:rolleyes:
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
I was under the impression that the compass checks were mandated to take place every half an hour?
Rob, the requirement in the rules for the OOW was to steady the ship by standard every 1/2 hour. How that was actually carried out practically was not specified. The same rule said that a comparison of the compasses was to take place during each Watch and the result entered into the compass comparison book for reference. That requirement would require someone out on the standard compass platform as well as when a course change took place. The course of the vessel was specified by standard compass. It was written down on a course board in the wheelhouse. On a separate course board used by the helmsman, the course to steer by was written down. The only difference between standard and steering compass readings would be due to their difference in compass deviation error. Maintaining a steady course, that difference should not change.
For example, suppose the ship's course was 265°T and the corresponding standard compass course was N71°W (289°). Now also suppose when steadied on that course, N71°W by standard, the steering compass read N68°W. That would be the course that the helmsman steered by. As long as there was no course alteration, if the ship was steadied on N68°W by steering compass, and checked by the OOW every 1/2 hour, then it should be the same as steadying on N71°W by standard without actually having to send anyone out to the amidships standard compass platform every 1/2 hour, and still be in compliance with the company rule. A matter of practical implementation of the every 1/2 hour rule, especially if the JOs are needed elsewhere, like involved in doing sight reductions.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Rob, the requirement in the rules for the OOW was to steady the ship by standard every 1/2 hour. How that was actually carried out practically was not specified. The same rule said that a comparison of the compasses was to take place during each Watch and the result entered into the compass comparison book for reference. That requirement would require someone out on the standard compass platform as well as when a course change took place. The course of the vessel was specified by standard compass. It was written down on a course board in the wheelhouse. On a separate course board used by the helmsman, the course to steer by was written down. The only difference between standard and steering compass readings would be due to their difference in compass deviation error. Maintaining a steady course, that difference should not change.
For example, suppose the ship's course was 265°T and the corresponding standard compass course was N71°W (289°). Now also suppose when steadied on that course, N71°W by standard, the steering compass read N68°W. That would be the course that the helmsman steered by. As long as there was no course alteration, if the ship was steadied on N68°W by steering compass, and checked by the OOW every 1/2 hour, then it should be the same as steadying on N71°W by standard without actually having to send anyone out to the amidships standard compass platform every 1/2 hour, and still be in compliance with the company rule. A matter of practical implementation of the every 1/2 hour rule, especially if the JOs are needed elsewhere, like involved in doing sight reductions.

It should be as easy as that Sam, but it was not. The operative word is "should". What "should " be is very often not the case.
For instance, It would surprise you as to the extent and difference of magnetic Deviations of each compass during the first 6 months after a ship leaves the builder's yard. Not only that, but many things have a transient effect on Deviation.
If, as you suggest, values were so constant, why would it be necessary for Junior Officers to work azimuths and keep an Azimuth Book?
The Deviation error of the steering Compass is not the same Deviation error as experienced by the Standard Compass. Magnetic Compasses are individual units with errors specific to each and the compensating elements are located at different distances relative to the compass needle. The only common error is the Variation error and as you know, that changes relative to where the compass is located on the earth's surface.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
The Deviation error of the steering Compass is not the same Deviation error as experienced by the Standard Compass. Magnetic Compasses are individual units with errors specific to each and the compensating elements are located at different distances relative to the compass needle.
I agree with everything you just said Jim. But I'm sure you have to agree that the deviation error on a given compass is not likely to change by any significant amount over the course of a 4 hour period under normal conditions. But speaking about deviation error, Boxhall discovered that the ship was following a true course of 266° when in fact it should have been on a true course of 265°. I suspect that was after he obtained a correction to the deviation error of the standard compass that night. This of course was done after the ship had altered course at 5:50pm, and so it would sense to check the deviation while on that new course. Which brings me to what I wrote several posts earlier. It seems Murdoch was more interested in seeing an update to the deviation error than having an extra pairs of eyes out on the bridge as they were about to enter the ice region.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Absolutely! No deviation change unless some clown banged one of Lord Kelvin's gonads or hung something ferrous on them or the QM was wearing a Bowie Knife.

Boxhall's determination of True course cannot be accepted as fact since he was not starting from a fixed location. He must have been assuming a 5-50 pm DR turn position which was bearing 086 True (reciprocal of 266 True) from his calculated 7-30 pm sights position.
However, the Variation reduced by 0.5 a degree between The Corner and 50 West so the true course being steered was nearer to 265.5 True.
Having said all that, despite the conditions, no ship...not even Titanic in flat calm conditions would have made good the course being steered.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Boxhall's determination of True course cannot be accepted as fact since he was not starting from a fixed location.
I believe Boxhall started from that 7:30 star fix. He found out she was actually making 266T after that fix was ascertained.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
I believe Boxhall started from that 7:30 star fix. He found out she was actually making 266T after that fix was ascertained.
He did, Sam. However, the only way he could have determined that would have been by calculation from the DR position he used for 5-50 pm. If that DR position was, as I believe, wrong, then the course being made good could not have been 266 True. Whatever he used, he must have, by the same method, discovered that the average speed from the turn was less than 22 knots. Otherwise, why would he have used that speed when calculating his distress position?
 
A

AlexP

Member
The Californian was not an IMM ship and certainly under the IMM Ship's Rules and Uniform Regulations that were in effect at the time. Leyland Line was partially owned by IMM, who had controlling interest, but Leland had her own management and rules that were being followed.

Nonsense Tim. If she was swinging to the right under hard-aport the berg would not have stayed along the starboard side as vessel continued going forward.depositing ice through several open ports and getting the windows on the Cafe Parisian wet. It could not have passed within 10 ft of the strn as witnessed by QM Rowe.

I can easily prove that if Titanic was seen by Lord when she was 22 miles away heading 266°T and one hour before the collision, then she would have been 0 miles away at 11:40 and the collision would have been with Californian, not an iceberg.
Sam, If the Titanic's course was 266°T, should not have Mr. Groves be able to observe almost the whole length of her?
Thanks.
 
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