Why did the boats stay away


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Nienke B

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hi all,

I still don't understand why none of the lifeboats went back, after the titanic sank. I know there was sucksion (or whatever the way is you write this) but was that all? I also heard they were afraid the people in the water would collapse the lifeboat if they would get near them. But when you hear the survivers about the cryings out of the water, and how terrible it was, why didn't anyone respond to them?

Nienke
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Nienke, you pretty much hit on the reasons why the boats stayed away already. The fear of suction went away after the ship went down, but with 1200 to 1500 people in the water, there was a very real fear that the boats would be swamped.

This next is a bit speculative, but I have no doubt that there was a lot of shock and disbeleif at work as well as a real quandry as to what to do. When dilemmas like that come up, people often find it simpler to do nothing. But I could be way wrong on this as well. Going on 89 years after the fact, speculating on peoples state of mind is risky business.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Catherine Marie Curran

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The lifeboat officers were afraid that the lifeboats would get swamped by people in the water, and were frightened that they could be sucked under by the suction. One lifeboat went back and picked up 12 people from the sea. I know it sounds terrible to leave people to die, but if you were in the situation you would just want to get away from the ship after all the trauma. The Titanic sadly had poor safety plans if an accident happened.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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As I said in my book, I believe the boats got away from the ship quite quickly to avoid being "bombed" by people jumping from the open upper decks. A 150-pound man falling 40 to 60 feet could do quite a bit of damage to a wooden lapstrake boat, let alone the person he landed on.

After Titanic disappeared there may not have been as much time to rescue "swimmers" as is generally thought. The reason was hypothermia which is the lowering of the core body temperature to the point where death occurs. From information (undocumented, but presumably reliable) in my pleasure boating files, I understand that fatal heat loss in an adult male usually occurs within 15 minutes after being submersed in 32 degree F water. Older people and children will not survive that long. Large adult women may survive as long as an adult male, but most women are 10% smaller so chill quicker.

From my water safety texts, I gather that more than half of the voices would have been stilled within the first 5 to 7 minutes after the ship foundered. Only the strongest survivor would have been calling for help after 15 minutes.

The truly sad fact is that most of the apparently lifeless victims floating in their life vests 15 minutes after the sinking were not yet dead. Many of them might have been revived with the proper knowledge and care. Today, our rescue workers have a saying that someone should never be declared "stone cold dead." Instead, they re-warm the victim who is declared dead only if "warm and still dead."

Unfortunately, it takes specialized equipment and a trained medical staff to re-warm people who are so hypothermic that they have lost consciousness. Neither was available on the morning of April 15, 1912 in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Lightoller and the men on collapsible B did not become fatally hypothermic because they climbed out of the water and onto the overturned hull. Heat loss when submerged is much faster than in air. The men's frozen clothing may also have helped to hold in some of their body heat. Those who were wearing wool were especially lucky because it gives off a slight amount of heat when wet. (No, I don't know why.)

In the year 2000 we know about hypothermia, a subject virtually unknown outside the medical community in 1912. Thus, the lifeboat commanders could not use the quick mortality rate from hypothermia to justify not going back to rescue swimmers. I agree with most researchers who believe the shock of the sinking prevented clear thinking and quick action. Very quickly, the opportunity to rescue anyone disappeared as those voices grew quiet one by one.

-- David G. Brown
 

Tracy Smith

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David, I would imagine fat people of either gender survived longer than thin people.

Several years ago, I heard of a professional female long distance swimmer who successfully swam the Bering Straits. She was about 5-6 and weighed 210 pounds. It was said in the article I read that her size was an asset in this endeavor.
 
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Tracy --

Thanks for giving me an excuse for the large number of extra pounds I now carry around on my body -- they'll keep me alive if my ship hits an iceberg and sinks.

Actually, I believe you are right about "blubber" keeping mammals warm. Unfortunately, I don't think any human can have enough to survive in freezing water for an extended period of time.

From what I have read, it is the brain and not the avoirdupois that really determines who survives the longest. Those people who are sure they will die usually are right. Conversely, those that convince themselves that they can survive are able to endure beyond what science says is possible.

-- David G. Brown
 

Dave Gittins

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From some rather nasty experiments carried out at Dachau and elsewhere it has been found that there is quite a wide variation in the ability to survive in freezing water. Joughin may have been lucky enough to be at the most favoured end of the usual bell curve seen in such statistics. At the same time. I think that he exaggerated the time he spent in the water. He did say that he got his upper body out of it when he reached the collapsible.

I picked up from some American rescue organization what they call the 50/50 rule. It's pretty sobering. It says that if you fall into water at 50° F and have to swim 50 yards to safety you have a 50% chance of making it. I suppose it depends a bit on whether you swim like me or like Ian Thorpe, but you see the point.
 

Paul Rogers

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Quote:

David, I would imagine fat people of either gender survived longer than thin people.




Well I'm safe then! Last Summer, while I was sunbathing on Brighton beach, a group of kids assumed I'd beached and tried to roll me back into the water...kept calling me "Willy" for some reason...

Sorry for the interruption all. Couldn't resist!
happy.gif
 
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Nienke B

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I think i have a better idea now of why they did stay away. i already had this in mind, its logical that when you have a trauma, you cant react or think straight. But now you've confirmed my thoughts and you gave some extra information - which is really interesting! i once heard a story about someone who survived 'cause he drank so much wiskey, but i presume this isn't true..?
quite the same happened in camerons movie, well you can see a man drinking wiskey in the last few minutes, so thats probably why that story was made up. anyway i just want to be sure..

and fat people have a better chance to survive than thin people, i can tell you i wouldnt stay alive for a minute
sad.gif


Nienke
 

Jordan Miner

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Jan 30, 2001
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David,

What is the name of your book? I believe I would like to read your theories. As far as Joughin is concerned, do you think his belief that he was going to survive helped him to? Was it sheer willpower on his part? Alcohol would have only hindered his chances of survival. The Navy conducted tests on men in frigid waters and they became lethargic in a relatively short period of time. He seems to be a medical miracle. He couldn't survive and yet he did.

Jordan
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Jordan, the name of David's book is "The Last Log Of The Titanic" and I heartily reccomend it as it is one of the freshest looks at the particulars of the sinking from a technical standpoint to hit the shelves in a very long time. Whether one agrees or disagrees with David's conclusions, it's the sort of book that makes one think about many of the alleged 'facts' floating around today. It also has the rare and sterling virtue of easy readability.

In regards the Baker; I suspect that any role the alcohol had in saving his life would have been in numbing him to the pain so he wouldn't be debilitated by same. (Even breathing while in freezing water can be sheer torture.) Also, I don't think he was in the water as long as has been supposed. Certainly not for two or three hours. If he had been, I don't think he would have made it.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Mar 20, 2000
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If the more fat you have determines how long you can live in cold water, then I should have no fear of freezing very quickly, if at all.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Jordan -- my book is "Last Log," as Michael reported. I don't go into the Joughin story in the book, although I have commented on it here. Frankly, I think he exaggerated a bit when it comes to how long he was in the water. That's typical of human nature.

-- David G. Brown
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Michael -- thank you for the glowing review of my book. After viewing your post, I believe I'll have to read it once again.

-- David G. Brown
 

Jordan Miner

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Thank you, Michael and David for responding. Yes, that was a glowing review and I intend to pick up a copy tomorrow. If Borders wasn't closing in five minutes I would be on my way up there now. Patience is not one of my virtues. I believe I will find this book more than interesting and can hardly wait to read it. Just what little was said on this thread has me wanting to read more.

Jordan
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Hi David, I know you're getting some feedback, some of which will certainly inspire to modify, update, or change some of your theories, but that's just part of the game when you try to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Aside from a fresh look at what's available, the readability is a crucial virtue. Especially when it comes to the more esoteric and complicated realities of shiphandling. The best possible tomes in the world are worthless if they bore the readers to tears. You did a wonderful job of avoiding that trap.

I'll be looking forward to that second edition whenever you can get around to it.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Oct 28, 2000
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An aside about publishing -- we are now in the process of collecting the "fixes" to the first edition. These are typos and other human errors easily fixed by a one or two letter (or word) changes in the existing text. Such changes cost very little money. Large changes, such as the inclusion of new research that has taken place since the original publication, will NOT be done at the second printing simply because of cost. Thus, the second printing will just be a more correct version of the first.

A second edition is as costly to manufacture as an original book. You start from scratch and build everything anew. My publisher has no plans for such an undertaking at this point. In fact, I believe the sentiment is that Titanic is now "worn out" as a subject. After all, the hoopla about the movie has died down.

Book buyers for the big retail chains are slavish to fads in the society at large. Their goal is not to provide the widest range of titles, but to sell the maximum number of books. Thus, special interest titles (such as Titanic books) tend to be stocked only when movies about the subject are popular. That's why members of the forum have so much trouble finding and buying books about Titanic or other nautical history.

Still, Last Log continues to sell well. And for those brisk sales I must offer my thanks to so many people on this forum who have either purchased a copy or who convinced a library to acquire my book. Thanks a million!

-- David G. Brown
 

Inger Sheil

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Schmolony is currently at odds with his publishers because they wouldn't let him add new photos to the second edition of 'The Irish Aboard Titanic'.

Agreed with all David said on niche markets - the Titanic movie was a gift to writers on the subject that comes along only once every so often. I was visiting a Titanic author soon after the movie came out when he opened one of his royalty cheques - oooooo! He had an international success on his hands because he had the good fortune to have the publication of his work coincide with the movie's release (and well deserved it was, too!).

~ Ing
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Well David, there's nothing to stop you from publishing articals to update your research. I'm sure you could offer something to The Titanic Commutator or Voyage from time to time...to say nothing of our little group here on this forum.

Curiously enough, I've never had a problem buying books on the Titanic, nautical history or aviation (A subject which also interests me.) The problem is finding stuff worth the paper it's printed on. It's stunning to see how much makes it on the shelves by people who have no idea what they're talking about.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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