Answered Survival theory- Deckchair rafts

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Scott of Derbyshire

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Hi everyone.

Like so many people I have often mused upon how to survive the sinking if (as a man) one did not get a place in a lifeboat.
It seems to me that the nub of the problem is how to avoid hypothermia whilst waiting the 2-3 hours from sinking to rescue, which without appropriate clothing means keeping oneself out of the water.

Lifejackets were plentiful but didn't keep enough of the wearers body out of the water to avoid freezing. But what if one was tied by its straps to one of the also plentiful deckchairs available? Might such a raft be sufficient to keep one's torso from the water and thereby survive the wait for the Carpathia?

Would be great to hear opinions from more informed persons.

Thanks very much,

Scott.
 
Steven Christian

Steven Christian

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Possible. But only for a few people. Probably would have taken 20 deck chairs if not more to provide enough buoyancy to keep one out of the water. Whether one could keep it with 1500 souls trying to climb aboard would be another problem. Oh...Welcome to the board. Cheers.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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But what if one was tied by its straps to one of the also plentiful deckchairs available? Might such a raft be sufficient to keep one's torso from the water and thereby survive the wait for the Carpathia?

IMO, in theory the answer to that would be "possibly" and no more.

But practically, there would be plenty difficulties. First of all, I am not certain that those life-vests could be tied to a deck chair in such a way that the combo would from a secure raft. Then there would be the problem of jumping into the sea with the contraption without causing oneself injury and/or without the whole thing coming apart. Even if someone somehow managed it, positioning oneself on a deck chair with a life vest on and avoid the body getting wet seems like a difficult task, even on a calm sea.

As to the alternative of throwing a deck chair into the sea and jumping in after it with a life vest on would make your idea even more difficult. In those freezing conditions, the person's fingers would become numb so quickly that tying any worthwhile knot would be next to impossible. I know because during my training as a diver, one of the exercises that we had to do was to be able to tie a simple knot at 18 meters depth; I found this quite difficult in a flooded quarry where the water temperature was 14 degrees Celsius (about 57*F).

A few passengers claimed to have used deck chairs as rafts and survived. I may be wrong, but I seem to recall that somewhere in Walter Lord's A Night To Remember, there is mention of a "Japanese man" who had tied himself onto a wooden door or deck chair. But the only Japanese survivor was the (sadly) infamous Masabumi Hosono who was allowed into Lifeboat #10 in the last minute but lived to face shame unfairly from his countrymen. Swedish survivor Karl Jonsson (a different man from fellow-Swede Carl Jansson who survived on Collapsible A) claimed that he drifted for "hours" on a deck chair before being hauled on board a lifeboat. But so little is known about Jonsson on board, his subsequent statements were so inconsistent and often very obviously embellished that one has to take most of his survivor accounts with a large chunk of salt.
 
S

Scott of Derbyshire

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Very valid. Even if a life vest/folded deckchair combo was technically buoyant enough it would be very likely an unstable device.
And practically, alighting from the ship onto the water under the circumstances without getting soaked is very unlikely.
Certainly, it would not serve as any sort of general survival strategy for a number of people, no matter how plentiful the supplies could have been.
 
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Jason D. Tiller

Jason D. Tiller

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but I seem to recall that somewhere in Walter Lord's A Night To Remember, there is mention of a "Japanese man" who had tied himself onto a wooden door or deck chair.
That was supposedly Fang Lang (Fong Sum), who may have come from Hong Kong. Although the identity of the person picked, is not firmly established.
 
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Gordon Mooneyhan

Gordon Mooneyhan

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Objects float by displacing more water than they weigh; Archimedes' principle states that when a body is fully or partially immersed in a liquid, an upward thrust equal to the weight of the liquid displaced, acts on it, i.e. when a solid is fully or partially immersed in a liquid, it loses weight which is equal to the weight of the liquid displaced by it.

The deck chairs were as much open space as they were wood. My guess is you'd need 5 chairs tied side by side and probably stacked 6-10 chairs deep (somewhere between 30 and 50 chairs total) to have enough buoyancy for a 150-pound person.
 
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