Where was the wind


Jim Currie

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Can anyone verify the direction the wind came from after 3-30am on the morning of the 15th?

I ask this because of what 5th.Officer Lowe said in his evidence relative to how he handled boat 14 under sail.

"Mr. LOWE.
And by and by, I noticed a collapsible boat [D], and it looked rather sorry, so I thought, "Well, I will go down and pick her up and make sure of her." So I went about and sailed down to this collapsible, and took her in tow."

Lowe was trained in sail so did not use the term "went about" in a casual manner.

In sailing terms, to 'go about' means to change the direction you are sailing in by turning the boat to bring the wind from being on one side of the boat to its opposite side . i.e. if you were sailing SE and the wind was from the East blowing on your port side, you would turn the boat to the left, swinging the bow across the wind so that it then blew on your starboard side.

Lowe was in boat 14. he returned from searching for survivors and took collapsible D in tow toward Carpathia. He had left D beside boats 12,10 and 8 when he went to search for survivors.
Just after he started towing D, he saw the people in collapsible A - changed course by 'going about'- and went over and picked them up before 'going about' again and resuming his course toward Carpathia.

We can make an educated guess from evidence given that collapsible A would have been nearly over the spot where Titanic's bridge disappeared below the waves - almost 200 yards from collapsible D which was about 150 yards off the port side of Titanic when she went down. We also can also assume that the main concentration of bodies would have been about 150 yards in the other direction from D - directly over where Titanic's stern disappeared.

Lifeboat 14 was fitted with a dipping lugsail - a very inefficient rig. It would not have sailed as well as Lowe described if the wind was any less than 45 degrees on either bow.

With the foregoing information, I have developed a rough sketch of how the scenario might have been acted out that morning. True to my conviction, I have shown Titanic heading west and the wind coming from the north.

330_am_to_4_am.jpg


Lowe used the term 'sailed down to her' twice. The first time when he went to collapsible D and the second when he went to collapsible A. If by 'down', he meant sailed 'south', then Titanic would have to have been heading in that direction since Collapsible A was in the direction of Titanic's bow relevant to the position of collapsible D,

Whatever way Titanic was heading when she sank, Lowe would have to have taken his boat to the left to get to collapsible A before heading for Carpathia.
 

Adam Went

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Jim:

Interesting stuff, and I think your thinking that the wind was coming from the north is the correct one, not just because of what you state but also because of this....

From "Titanic: Triumph And Tragedy" by John P. Eaton and Charles A. Haas, p. 230:

"On the 30th, Captain DeCarteret sent a message to the White Star Line: 'Believe late northerly gales have swept bodies into Gulf Stream and carried them many miles east. Searched along longitude 48.20 between latitude 41.20 and 41.50 and recovered only one body, making total of 14, two being unknown were buried. Believe those on board mostly crew."

Captain DeCarteret was the captain of the Minia, the second and less well remembered rescue ship to the Mackay-Bennett. Obviously this statement was some time after the sinking, but it sounds to me like DeCarteret was aware of some northerly winds shortly after the sinking, so it could well have been that this is the same as what you describe....
 

Jim Currie

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Thanks for that Adam!

I have found that Major Peuchin also said the wind was from the north.

Here is an interesting item generated during the search for bodies:

20th. April,1912
""Steamer Rhein reports passing wreckage and bodies 42.1 north, 49.13 west, eight miles west of three big icebergs. Now making for that position. Expect to arrive 8 o'clock to-night. (Signed) "MACKAY-BENNETT."

There was another message sent by McKay Bennett the next day:

"Latitude, 41.58; longitude, 49.21. Heavy southwest swell has interfered with operations. Seventy-seven bodies recovered. All not embalmed will be buried at sea at 8 o'clock to-night with divine service. Can bring only embalmed bodies to port."

This suggests the location was south and further west than reported by the 'Rhein'. It also tells us that the weather had deteriorated and there was a heavy swell from the south west. No doubt this was wind-generated.
It also tells us that the bodies and wreckage were carried N66E True for a distance of 30 miles over 5 days - 6 miles a day! So what influenced them?

We know:
1: The wind blew from the north during April 15th.
2: Thick fog hampered McKay Bennett about the 19th.
3: A heavy swell from the SW also hampered McKay Bennett.
4: The accident happened near the north boundry of the NE setting Gulf Stream.

From the foregoing, it is likely that the north wind sent the debris and bodies south into the Gulf Stream. The Stream deflected them to the left at first then carried them ENEward as it's strength overcame that of the wind effect.
What is patently obvious is that there was no strong south-setting current influencing the situation. Alternatively, the SW swell suggests a SW wind - perhaps that influenced the situation.
The presence of fog also suggests warm moist air over colder water. The SW wind is usually warm and moist!

One last observation:

Captain Lord found icebergs at about 42-00N
49-10W - that's 7.5 miles east of where Mckay Bennett found the bodies - were they by coincidence the ones seen by 'Rhein' and the wind was the predominant factor north of the wreck site?

Jim.
 

Adam Went

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Hi Jim,

Very interesting stuff there, and thanks for posting it up!

Well we know that while it was a very cold night, there was virtually no wind and barely a ripple in the ocean when the ship first hit the iceberg, so obviously this northerly wind only started to get up after the sinking itself.

There was a very low percentage of bodies recovered from the ocean compared to how many actually died, which indicates that the several days during which they had been allowed to float freely in the middle of the ocean took its toll - they had either gone under, or drifted miles away from the original site.

This actually reminds me of a show I watched not so long ago where they tried to predict what would have happened to the bodies of the 3 prisoners who escaped from Alcatraz (assuming they drowned) by using tide, current and weather information....it was interesting stuff....I wonder if it would be possible to do something similar with the Titanic casualties?

Anyway.....yes, interesting stuff, and a northerly wind it was (and quite a strong one at times too apparently)....
 
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>>I wonder if it would be possible to do something similar with the Titanic casualties?<<

Given similar conditions, it would be possible to do so. While you might have a problem finding somebody with 1500 or so surplus cadavers to offer for the experiment, it shouldn't be much of a problem to build dummies which are broadly correct anatomically and weighted the same (ballistics gel is remarkable stuff). Put radio transponders in the lot, let them go in the same area, then use the telemetry to track where the wind and the wave would take them.

The catch?

The catch is that the weather would have to behave exactly as it did in 1912. As any sailor with experience on the open ocean knows...especially the violently unpredictable North Atlantic...predictable weather is more a wished for fantasy then reality.
 

Adam Went

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Michael:

And so it would probably need to be done in controlled conditions, although that would not allow for a full scale experiment. However, they managed to get the conditions as close as possible in the open water for the Alcatraz experiment, and did exactly what you suggested, and the experiment worked as they predicted it would.

We're used to scale experiments with the Titanic - perhaps another one for good measure?
 

Jim Currie

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Adam & Michael:

Since the days of Titanic, understanding of the ocean currents has increased a thousand-fold. In addition, many studies of how the wind effects these currents have been carried out.
In many of these studies -'drifters' have been used in conjunction with satellite and laser technology. Application of all this new information to the weather conditions prevailing at 42N..50W for the 5 days from 4am on Sunday 15th;April 1912; we could easily predict how the bodies were transported during that time and ended-up where they were found. Modern Search and Rescue techniques use this information very effectively.

You will note from several posting of mine that I do not believe there was a serious surface current from the time the wind dropped until it rose again. Too much emphasis is placed on the part played by the Labrador Current. There are very many good sites on the Internet which support my belief. Try NASAs http://oceanmotion.org/eastern-boundary-sst.htm
Jim
 

Adam Went

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Jim:

It would be an interesting experiment for sure, but I would have thought the results would vary quite a lot given the different conditions and sizes of the victims. Also, many of those who went into the water with lifebelts on removed them, in order to make it easier for them to swim - those who then drowned would probably end up going under altogether, or atleast the results would vary somewhat from those who were wearing lifebelts still.

So there would be plenty of variables to take into account. Given that less than a quarter of the victims were actually recovered, something must have happened in between the sinking and the arrival of the Mackay-Bennett to make all the others just vanish.

Perhaps something like this might be attempted in time for the 100th anniversary...?
 

AlexP

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Here's the weather map for 3:00GMT April 15. It is around 8+ hours after the sinking. All that time while Titanic was sinking and after she sank that high pressure cell was moving towards the wreck site. I don't understand how come there was no wind. It appears that it ought to be rather fresh wind all the time not only at down. I wonder what Jim could say about this.
1579483477002.png
 
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