1. Welcome to Encyclopedia Titanica
    or subscribe for unlimited access to ET! You can also login with , or !
    Dismiss Notice

Superior mirage and the Californian

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

  1. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    I think "attack" and "debate" are being confused.
    T Maltin likes this.
  2. Possibly I missed it but I can not see any explanation about what happened with Carpathia.
    Carpathia also nearly collided with an iceberg when going towards emergency boat No. 2 and was sighted the last moment as on Titanic. Carpathia was able to avoid a collision. Others icebergs were seen this one not and several others come up when it became daylight. No report about a "refraction" or "mirage".

    Sorry but it is only me who feel how strange it is that only the officers aboard the Marengo were the only ones to notice and report a mirage/reflection and officers of at last 3 ships which were Titanic, Carpathia and Californian had no idea what they were seeing or notice it?
    In the morning of April 15th there were several other ships in the area which have come to aid as Mount Temple, Birma, Frankfurt etc. Did any one of them report the same as Marengo?
    Samuel Halpern and Rob Lawes like this.
  3. Mila

    Mila Guest

    English is not my first language, but according to a dictinary
    Attack is criticize or oppose fiercely and publicly
    Debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward.
    So was the below attack or debate?
  4. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    The point is that Much refraction if not accounted for, will affect the Zenith distance which in turn will adversely affect the results of a Longitude by Chronometer sight.
  5. Mila

    Mila Guest

    Well , Ioannis, if you ask Tim he will tell you that Bisset from Carpathia mentioned a few times “peculiar visibility” and that for sure Bisset meant refraction. I am about 90% sure that Bisset had something else in mind, simply because there is no any confirmed observation of a nighttime mirage that does not involve a light source.
  6. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    In my personal opinion I believe it was a request for clarification. As with so many discussions on here, pride of authorship sometimes clouds judgement. It is important for the integrity of the debate that we remain open to discussion and accept alternative opinions will be raised.

    I agree with you that the quoted position of the Marengo in the book under discussion is misleading and it is quite obvious when reviewing the times and positions Marengo was at her closest position to the wreck site around 12 hours after the sinking.

    I also believe Ioannis has made an excellent point.
    T Maltin and Ioannis Georgiou like this.
  7. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Here is food for thought. Captain Rostron saw Boxhall's green flare and said:

    "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, and I remarked that she must be still afloat, as I knew we were a long way off, and it seemed so high."

    "It seemed so high" - Was refraction causing the green light to levitate and appear high above the horizon? - Similar to the refraction photos I presented earlier i.e. Scotland floating like a cloud above the horizon.

    Survivor Edith Russell also saw Boxhall's green flare, but she thought it was coming from the "upper deck" of the Titanic. She said: "At 2:10, green rockets were fired from the upper deck. This was the last call for help and mercy." Is it possible that both Rostron and Russell were looking at the effects of refraction which caused Boxhall's green flare to appear much higher up? Similar to the heavy plume of smoke which Mr. Mock said looked like a mushroom cloud as it rose high into the sky and flattened out at the top "like a mushroom" while Colonel Gracie who was much closer saw a layer of smoke or vapour settle very low against the sea. Was that layer close to the surface affected the same way as Boxhall's light which made them appear much higher to those further away owing to the abnormal temperatures clashing in that area as the heavy ice field approached the Gulf stream, added with the abnormal effects of a massive ocean liner going down with hot water bubbling up to the surface as she went down? e.g. Lightoller - "Suddenly a terrific blast of hot air came up." Colonel Gracie - "The hot water that came up from the boilers might boil me up, and the second officer told me that he had the same feeling."

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
    T Maltin likes this.
  8. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    I don't know about the Carpathia observations but the Titanic green flares witnessed at 02:10 could almost certainly be the salt water activated Manwell Holmes Deck Flares going off when they were submerged. This would have required no crew involvement.
  9. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Thanks, but would the Manwell deck flares be green? Member Paul Slish posted this: "The two Manwell Holmes deck flares carried by Titanic as part of her complement of distress signals were to be used to simulate "Flames on the Vessel" to fulfil the second class of night distress signals."

    I would imagine that green flares would not be a good choice to simulate flames on the vessel. Perhaps white, yellow, or red might have been more appropriate. Just before the Titanic went down Mr. Thayer looked back at her and said she appeared to stand out in a reddish glare as if she were ablaze and on fire. Perhaps a Manwell deck flare was igniting and creating a reddish glare on the deck, and Boxhall's green flare was the only green light showing?

    Mr. Collins was on the forward boat deck and saw a green light towards her stern. He said:

    "I looked back at her stern end and I saw a green light."
    Q - What did you think it was, one of your own boats?
    A - No, sir; I did not really think of what it was until the firemen and sailors came up and said that it was a boat.
    Q - That is, a ship?
    A - Yes, sir.
    Q - What became of it?
    A - Sir, it disappeared.
    Q - How long was it visible?
    A - About 20 minutes or half an hour, I am sure it was.
    Q - How far away, would you think, from the Titanic?
    A - I guess it would be about 4 miles; I am sure, 3 or 4 miles.


    Boxhall's boat was much closer to the Titanic than 3 or 4 miles. Miss Allen was in Boxhall's boat. She said - "When Boxhall lit his first light the screams grew louder and then died down." Perhaps Mr. Collins was seeing the effects of the refraction which elevated the horizon and made him think Boxhall's green flare was a ship "about 4 miles away" as it seemed so high up and much further away than it really was. Similar to Rostron's quote - "It seemed so high."

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  10. Mila

    Mila Guest

    No matter what eyewitnesses describe Tim and Aaron interpret it as a sign of a super refraction.

    For example, in his book Tim quotes Beesley

    Tim describes the above quote like this: "Beesley was describing a perfect thermal inversion."

    Of course the presence of the haze is as a sign of a mirage too:

    Stone described low-lying Titanic rockets. Sure enough, it was due to a mirage.

    Rostron describes high Boxhall’s green flare. It is because of mirage too.

    I agree it was an unusual night with many strange sightings but we cannot atribute everything to a mirage.
    I believe that we have already established that there was some kind of low mist.
    Below is an image of GGB I took. See what mist does with lights?
    Maybe something similar happened with Boxhall's green flare.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2019
    Robert T. Paige likes this.
  11. Mila

    Mila Guest

    Or she might have been farther away...

    However, what is more important is not how far away she was, but when she was at her closest approach.
    I made one more map. It appears that she was on her closest approach not later than 2 pm and not at 4 pm as Tim said. Marengo loggs have notices of refraction for 8 am and 4 pm. There is nothing about refraction inr 12 pm log, which means that even, when Marengo was in the right place at the wrong time there's no evidence to confirm there was refraction there.
  12. Thanks,Mila -

    Excellent photo !

    Besides the "flare" of the lights on GGB due to the mist ....
    In the background of buildings in San Francisco, there is one very bright "blob " of light ,
    white-ish and much larger than the lights on other buildings .It is on the left side of the photo , about halfway down from the top. This may be something like what Rostron saw of Boxhall's flare.Just a guess, but on looking at your photo, this bright "blob" of light did stand out rather noticeably from the other SF lights.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
    Mila likes this.
  13. Mila

    Mila Guest

    Sorry to disappoint you, Jim, :) but I could think of at least one explanation: there were icebergs between the boat and the Californian that prevented Stone and Gibson from seeing the green flare. BTW what lookout do you mean? I thought that there was no lookout on Californian.
    This one is also easily explained. First of all they were very busy, trying to avoid colliding with the icebergs and hitting the boats. Of course the sky contions mattered too. It was twilight at 4 am, which means that the Californian’s lights were not as bright and maybe she was showing her stern light, the same situation as when the Titanic was approaching. On the other hand it was still dark enough at 4 am. to see her silhouette.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2019
    T Maltin likes this.
  14. Mila

    Mila Guest

    Thank you, Robert!
  15. The mirage/reflection seems to be coming and going and be limited only for "special" parts as the iceberg Titanic hit, Californian and green light. Sorry for me that sounds now ridiculous.

    As for Rostron seeing a green light about 2:45 a.m. believing it was the Titanic still afloat there are reports from Carpathia passengers who mentioned to have seen a blue light some say about 2:45 a.m. others 3 a.m. and 3:15 a.m.
    As I wrote in the last part of my lifeboat series: "This light probably came from the mysterious steamer Carpathia passed at about 3:15 a.m. While Rostron said he saw only her masthead light, one of his Officers swore that he also saw her port sidelight."
    The port sidelight would be red. So we have a "green" "blue" and "red" light.
    Rob Lawes likes this.
  16. If I am not mistaken this is from his book he wrote years later and has some parts different from what they were in 1912. (He has wrong dates and some different details about the rescue of the Titanic survivors..)
    Aside from the crew there were several passengers on deck aboard Carpathia, I can not remember anyone mentioning some strange observations.
  17. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Hello Mila.

    First: if as you suggest, Californian was swinging about and changing her position relative to the nearby vessel which you believe was Titanic, then the bearing of that vessel would have changed. It did not until after 1pm when the vessel in question moved away and the bearing changed to the right.

    Second: If, as you suggest, icebergs shielded the green flares from observers on Californian, then why did not the icebergs between Carpathia and Boxhall do exactly the same thing?

    Third: Before Californian stopped. there were 2 lookouts...1 at the bow and 1 in the nest. After she stopped, the one at the bow was stood-down.

    Four: Bisset wrote nonsense concerning Californian. He had no idea where she was until she appeared to the WSW at 8 am that morning of April 15. The reason I know this is because Californian did not communicate with Carpathia until they were within semaphore range which was very close. Before that, there was no way anyone on Carpathia could have identified any vessel.
    Captain Rostron stated that he did not see Californian until she was about 6 miles away to the WSW at 8 pm. To suggest that one of his officers did see her 10 miles to the north, when that officer must have been, as all officers would have been, engaged in the recovery of survivors and their boats is totally absurd. I am surprised that no-one has ever challenged Bisset about that rubbish.
  18. Mila

    Mila Guest

    Hi Jim,
    There were more icebergs between the boat and the Californian than between the boat and the Carpathia or one could have been positioned to prevent the sighting from the Californian.
    Also could you please tell me what vessel Californian chief officer pointed to Stone when he got on the bridge? So it appears that even if nobody from Carpathia saw Californian, the officers from Californian saw Carpathia.
  19. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    There is no evidence to show that there were icebergs between Californian and the Titanic. Californian was within half a mile of the eastern edge of the pack ice whereas, Titanic was about 4 miles east of it.
    Californian was surrounded by light ice because she entered it before Lord could stop her.
    Now consider this:
    According to Sam, the eastern side of the pack ice was running NW - SE.
    If this was so, and 10 miles separated the vessels then it does not fit. See here:
    10 miles NW.jpg
  20. Julian Atkins

    Julian Atkins Member

    Hi Mila,

    As you probably already know, Bisset's book is available here

    Full text of "TRAMPS AND LADIES"

    The relevant extract from page 307 is

    "in the slowly increasing daylight after 4.30 A.M., we had sighted the smoke of a
    steamer on the fringe of the pack ice, ten miles away from us to
    the northwards. She was making no signals, and we paid little
    attention to her, for we were preoccupied with more urgent matters; but at 6 A.M. we had noticed that she was under way and
    slowly coming toward us.

    When I took over the watch on the bridge of the Carpathia at
    8 A.M., the stranger was little more than a mile from us, and flying
    her signals of identification. She was the Leyland Line cargo
    steamer Californian, which had been stopped overnight, blocked
    by ice.

    Now she steamed up to within half a mile from the Carpathia
    and stopped. An officer, on the wing of her bridge, using hand-
    flags, signaled, "What's the matter?" "

    [My own empahisis of 'after'] (critics of Bisset can latch onto the 'after 4.30am' as suitably vague, and I would not disagree with them).

    At "6 AM" The Californian was not coming slowly towards the Carpathia at this time but was instead cutting across the ice field sort of westwards.

    But might I suggest those of us who have studied what Captain Lord wrote in his 1959 Affidavit and told Harrison in the 1961 taped recorded interview transcripts, and also Groves to Walter Lord in the late 1950's correspondence and interview, and Harrison's later interview with Groves, should apply a little leeway and 'give' as we might attribute to Bisset's above volume from 1959.

    "After 4.30 AM" as written by Bisset could mean all sorts, but it probably links in to The Californian going ahead for awhile at 5.15am and consequently showing smoke from her funnel.

    I do not consider the above 5.15am timing in anyway contradictory to what Bisset wrote.


    T Maltin likes this.