The Rappahannock

Erik Wood

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Good Morning All,

This is kind of a continuation of a conversation in the Trapped Captain thread that I think may deserve it's own thread. I have been attempting to piece together the actual events that night regarding the Californian but part of that is figuring distances.

Now in the Cameron CD (I know that the information is quite possibly in correct) it mentions that Titanic had a encounter with the wounded ship Rappahanock. She had been damaged in the ice field that Titanic was now headed for. It also states that the ship morse lamped Titanic the warning at over 10 miles away.

If I am not mistaken this is the approximate positions that most claim the Californian is at. I posted some time ago a experiement that I conducted using a Mag Light and a fellow fleet mate. I was able to morse him using a flash light on a clear night at just about 10 miles and he could see me perfectly. However just past that and it was a lost hope. So I am wondering that if Titanic was trying to morse this "mystery ship" at 10 miles why couldn't she be seen. If not 2 days befre she was able to do it to another vessel.

Fiona has been looking for info. This CD is the first I have heard of the Rappahanock in a morsing sense. All of my books say little or nothing at all. Perhaps somebody could help me track down some info on this. Where exactly the ship was. Or how far away at the time Titanic and the Rappahanock met.

Any help and I would be most greatful.

Erik
 
Dec 2, 2000
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My bet is that the morse lamps in use then were weaker then your Maglite. One has to wonder about the visibility conditions then, to say nothing of the lamplight getting lost from all the lights glaring out from inside the ship.

It might help if somebody can offer info on how powerful (or weak) these lamps were. Also, did the Titanic encounter the Rappahanock at night or in broad daylight?

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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I've started a separate thread on the Rappahannock business. The encounter supposedly was at 10-30 p.m.

Concerning Morse lights, some in use at the time had a total of about 100 cp. They were a simple all-round light and consisted of numerous small globes. Somebody posted specifications for Titanic's lamps and they were evidently rather lower powered.
 
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Thanks Dave. This one may put a bit of a damper on the whole story. 100cp is nowhere near the same league as a maglite which can typically crank out 8000cp. The recargable models can put out up to 35,000cp.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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All,

Another interesting thought then is the ships (if they morsed each other) must have been within 5 or less miles. But at that range on a clear night one would think that you would be able to hear the noises and gun shots from Titanic. Who knows. This whole Rappahanock thing could either prove or disprove all that has been said in relation to the californian.

Erik
 
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As I recall, both the Titranic and the Californian attempted using morse lamps, but saw no reply.

It may be useless for comparison anyway. The more this thing is hashed over, the more this Rappahannock thing looks like a contemporary urban legend.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I'm not so sure about that. The Titanic fired rockets, the Californian saw the rockets, we have zero evidence that anyone else fired rockets...and zero credible evidence that anyone else was puttering about. Rumors, innuendo, sea stories and the like abound, but the scarcity of useful facts...well, I think that we're at a brick wall here. If there was something that anybody missed, the supporting evidence is long since gone.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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Very True,

I guess that in my mind nobody really understands Lords predicitmant that night. They (the inquires) needed a villian. They got one. Lord really sealed his fate with his own attitude during his testimony.

Erik
 

Erik Wood

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I know that this should be a dead subject. However in my research I have stumbled across a something related to this subject in Walter Lords Book "The Night Lives On". I think it important for so many reasons not only limited to, Ice Warnings but it's possible linkage to the Californian. The whole distance question that has been brought up serval times in other threads. The verse goes as follows.

"Late on the night of the thirteenth, the Titanic passed the Funress Withy Liner Rappahanock, eastbound from Halifax to London. She had recently encountered heavy pack ice, twisting her rudder and denting her bow. The Rappahanock warned the Titanic by blinker of the danger ahead. The great White Star Liner flashed back an acknoledgment and hurried on into the night."

This to me says a few things. Morse lamp was used on the 13th. Probably at a distance close to 10 miles (that little number came from the Cameron CD granted not the greatest source) and at the least 10 miles. It had to be enough of a flicker for Titanic to be able to read while moving at 20 knots. Plus she responded. So this leaves me with one more question.

If Californian was 10 miles away why couldn't she read Titanic's lamp. I could see Californians lamp being weaker as it was basically a tramp steamer. Now keeping in mind that doesn't answer all of the other questions about Lords actions that night but it gives us some light that things may not be what they seem.

We have also talked about Lords attitude. That got me the other day. My attitude towards some ignorance in the Coast Guard.

Erik
 

Tracy Smith

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Thanks very much for this point, Erik.
happy.gif


I've been wondering why neither the Californian's officers, nor the Titanic's saw the other's Morsing, especially considering that all involved were actively looking for replies. The most logical conclusion is that they were too far away from one another for Morsing to be effective.

You stated that the Titanic's lights were most likely more powerful than the Californian's, which is undoubtedly correct. Even so, if they'd been ten miles apart, the Californian's officers would have been able to read the Titanic's message, and most likely would have then awakened Evans to try to contact Titanic when they realized their own messages weren't getting back.

Thanks, you've been most helpful, OM.
happy.gif
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Erik wrote:
"I know that this should be a dead subject..."

Hello Erik,

Dead to whom? I hope you are not worn down and losing heart, as there is still so much more to learn, to discover. Just concerned, as you've expressed these thoughts a few times lately.

Also, writing about Rappahannock:
"This to me says a few things. Morse lamp was used on the 13th. Probably at a distance close to 10 miles (that little number came from the Cameron CD granted not the greatest source) and at the least 10 miles. It had to be enough of a flicker for Titanic to be able to read while moving at 20 knots. Plus she responded. So this leaves me with one more question."

Referering to two other threads covering similar subject matter, there was:
  1. no certainty as to whether or not Rappahannock did sight Titanic, irrespective of date. See Dave Gittin's explanation, which cuts to the chase at Rappahannock. Fact or Fiction - https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/discus/messages/5673/5511.html?
  2. no primary source located for the distance, if Rappahannock did sight Titanic and morse her[/li]
I'll also have to agree with Mike S's concern that your maglite would not replicate the morsing conditions of 1912. It certainly makes for interesting reading though.

It may be that Rappahannock is another red herring in the Californian story. Maybe? Maybe not?

Cheers,

Fiona
Still interested in Rappahannock
 

Erik Wood

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Mike does bring up a good bit of info. We have all the other lights and there reflection to deal with. The maglite as Fiona says may have been a little to powerful. But still something just doesn't seem right. Rappahanock could pick out Titanics morse lamp. Really if you where so close as some claim that they could see all the lights they should have been able to spot running lights or at least a mast head light. They could have found a approximate location of where the mores should be coming from. The pieces of the puzzle are from different puzzles and not the same one. I am confused.
 

Dave Hudson

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Apr 15, 2011
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Hello, just discovered this thread.
I just had a thought. I'm guessing that At 10:30 on the 13th there would have been less lights on than the next evening. By that time, passengers were going to bed, some of the public rooms were closing, and decklights were being dimmed for the lookouts. I'm guessing that less than half of her portholes were lit. Perhaps the passengers would have been getting to bed earlier for the Church Services the following morning.
In the early morning hours of the 15th, the passengers were awake and many in their rooms with their lights on. The public rooms were all lit for the passengers as well. All of this could have greatly contributed to the Morse Lamp "getting lost in the sauce."
Just some thoughts,
David
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Ok, Erik, I get the message. I'll stop beating my head against the brick wall. No doubt it will feel marvellous when I stop.

Cheerio,

Fiona
Still searching for primary or contemporary sources to back up the Rappahannock story...
 

Erik Wood

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Fiona,

You and I both. I have yet to find a realy creditable source for the distance between the Rappahanock and Titanic was well as time that they exchanged blinks.

David,

That is a good point that I have never really even thought of. Although it was later at night there was more action on the night of the 14th early morning 15th then there would have been at 1030 the night before. This requires some thinking and may explain a couple of things. Thanks David.

Erik