Encyclopedia Titanica

Titanic's Voyage from Belfast to Southampton April 2nd

Sea Trials and Delivery to Southampton


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Titanic Belfast
Titanic on the morning of April 1st readying for its sea trials that would be canceled that day on account of the wind. Note the smoke being whisked from the funnels. (Author's collection)


On April 2nd, 1912, the RMS Titanic underwent its sea trials off Belfast, Ireland, the home port of its builders Harland and Wolff. These trials were to make sure that the ship not only met the owner’s (the White Star Line) expectations, but also, and more importantly, the Board of Trade’s. After these trials, which the Titanic passed, she proceeded to Southampton, England in preparation for her maiden voyage on the 10th.

For such a short voyage from Belfast to Southampton, there are quite a few gaps in the historical record. It will be the objective of this paper to collect the known facts, along with some new data, and analyze it in hopes that a better understanding may be gained. The data for this paper has been drawn from three main sources – testimony, newspapers, and author and researcher Dr. Paul Lee’s article, The Delivery Trip: Miscellaneous Titanic Navigation Notes.i

Let us start with a few disclaimers though, the first being that this author is not a navigator, and his knowledge is limited to what he has picked up via researching the Titanic topic. As such, this author has relied on two sources for calculating distances, one being a website used for calculating distances via a rhumb line when there is no land between, and the second being Google Maps - used when a direct route involved land, as routes can be traced around land masses. All miles, unless otherwise stated, are nautical.

The second disclaimer is that there is no data as to the exact course that the Titanic took. Thus, we do not know the exact bearings the ship traveled, and we do not know how close to any land masses the ship came. Due to this, this author can only claim that the route he came up with for measurements is speculative and may be off by one or more miles.

Part 1: The Data


2nd Officer Lightoller

Lightoller would say that Titanic’s trials began at about 10am, taking approximately 6 to 7hrs. Lightoller would agree that the circle tests took about 5hrs, while also testifying that the straight away test took 4hrs (two out, two back), for a total of 9hrs. Lightoller would state that the run from Belfast to Southampton was about 24hrs long, and that they arrived on the morning of April 4th around midnight, with the ship averaging around 18knts during the voyage.

3rd Officer Pitman

Pitman would say that the trials took about 8hrs to complete, after which the Titanic departed for Southampton where it arrived at midnight on the 29th of March.

4th Officer Boxhall

Boxhall would claim that Titanic left Belfast for its trials at noon on a Tuesday – the exact date escaping him. They steamed until about 7-8pm, finally leaving Belfast to Southampton at 8pm. He would say of the weather during the voyage, “The weather was fine until about 2 o’clock in the morning… Thursday; I should say Wednesday morning, until about 2 o’clock. I want to correct that… When I came on duty at 4 o’clock in the morning it was foggy…. …it cleared up about 6 o’clock in the morning... …there was practically no sea, and little wind.” He would claim that they reached Southampton on Thursday (April 4th) about midnight.

5th Officer Lowe

Lowe testified that Titanic began its sea trials at 2pm. He claimed that Titanic reached Belfast again at 6:30pm and anchored for a half an hour to three quarters of an hour, after which Titanic sailed to Southampton taking 30hrs, while agreeing that the ship arrived at midnight Thursday (April 4th). Lowe’s testimony would also have this interesting exchange:

Senator Smith: You reached Southampton on Thursday night, about midnight?

Lowe: Yes.

Smith: Were you on duty that night?

Lowe: I was on duty that day, sir; that is, from half past 9.

Smith: In the morning?

Lowe: A.m.; until half past 5 p.m.

Smith: And you were not on duty when the boat reached the wharf?

Lowe: I was not on duty from the time the Titanic was taken out. It was taken in tow at half past 9 that morning. I was below.

Smith: This was Thursday night, midnight?

Lowe: Yes.


Harland and Wolff Naval Architect Wilding states during Limitation of Liability hearings that, “During April 3rd when running south, we obtained a speed of about 23¼ knots for several hours.”ii


The information is listed by the day it represents.iii

April 2nd
  • Left half past nine in the morning.Northern Whig, Wed. April 3rd
  • Titanic left fitting out jetty 9:30am in charge of 4 tugs to commence steam trials.Evening Irish Times, Wed. April 3rdiv
  • 10:25am Titanic leaving Belfast for steam trials. Liverpool Journal of Commerce, Wed. April 3rd [This is under the headline ‘Wireless Reports.’]
  • Left Lough shortly before 10.Belfast News-Letter, Wed. April 3rd [Does not make distinction as to whether this is 10am or 10pm.]
  • Trials lasted 9 hours, Titanic left Carrick roadstead, Belfast Lough for Southampton shortly after 7pm.Liverpool Journal of Commerce, Wed. April 3rd
  • Left Belfast Lough 9pm. Northern Whig, Fri. April 5thv*
  • Left Belfast Lough at 9pm.Belfast Telegraph, Thurs. April 4th**
  • Titanic passed Donoghdee [sic] at 2:15 proceeding South.Liverpool Journal of commerce, Wed. April 3rd
April 3rd
  • Passed Smalls 7:19am.Liverpool Daily Post, Thurs. April 4th
  • Passing Land’s End 12:30. Northern Whig, Fri. April 5th*
  • Passing Land’s End 12:30. Belfast Telegraph, Thurs. April 4th**
  • Passing Land’s End 12:30 April 4th. Belfast News-Letter, Fri. April 5th***
  • Prawle Point Titanic passed East. Western Daily Mercury, Sat. April 6th
  • Titanic and Olympic passed each other a short distance somewhere off Portland. Hampshire Independent, Sat. April 6th
  • At Isles of Wight 24 hours after leaving Belfast. Northern Whig, Fri. April 5th*
  • At Isles of Wight 24 hours after leaving Belfast. Belfast Telegraph, Thurs. April 4th**
  • At Isle of Wight 24 hours after leaving Belfast. Belfast News-Letter, Fri. April 5th***
  • Titanic arrived at Southampton 10:30pm. Globe, Thurs. April 4th
  • Titanic arrived today at Southampton. The Calumet News (Calumet, Michigan), Wed. April 3rd & Hattiesburg Daily News (Hattiesburg, Mississippi), Wed. April 3rd
  • Docked at 11pm. Northern Whig, Fri. April 5th
  • Docked 11pm, journey completed in 26 hours. Belfast Telegraph, Thurs. April 4th**
April 4th
  • Titanic Docked at midnight, 12hrs after Olympic left. Hampshire Independent Sat. April 6th
  • Agents from White Star Line announced, cable received from Southampton, Titanic docked 12 hours after Olympic left for New York. The New York Times, Fri. April 5th
  • Docked about midnight, 26hr run. Belfast Telegraph, Thurs. April 4th**
  • White Star Offices at Montreal advised by cable that Titanic arrived at Southampton at 1am. The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), Sat. April 6th
  • Titanic docked at 1am April 4th, 12 hours after Olympic sailed for New York. The Evening Herald (Fall River, Massachusetts), Fri. April 5th

C: Dr. Paul Lee’s Paper

  • April 3rd 150 Miles E of Fastnet - Lizard 10.30am. Lloyds,
  • 1.35 Titanic off Lizard. Olympic’s PV
  • Titanic closer to Penzance than other ships.The Cornishman, Thur. April 11th
  • April 4th 1:15am Titanic — As written in Southampton’s Port Authority’s log.

Part 2: Deduction of the Data

Departure for Trials

  • 9:30am—Northern Whig
  • 9:30am—Evening Irish Times
  • 10am—Lightoller
  • 10:25am—Liverpool Journal of Commerce
  • 2pm—Lowe

As seen, Lowe’s 2pm is the outlier and is clearly wrong. Instead, we have roughly an hour worth of range from 9:30am to 10:25am, with the latter claiming to be from a wireless report, though the source of this wireless report is not stated and therefore does not mean it was directly relayed by Titanic’s wireless crew.

How Long Did Trials Last?

  • 6, 7, 9hrs—Lightoller
  • 9hrs—Liverpool Journal of Commerce
  • 8hrs—Pitman
  • 5hrs—Lowe
  • 7–8hrs—Boxhall

This is clearly an area that none of Titanic’s surviving officers had clear recollection of. With this range of time, coupled with the times given for Titanic’s departure (minus Lowe’s 2pm), we have Titanic’s trials ending anywhere from 2pm-6:30pm on the low side and 3pm-7:30pm on the high side. Lowe does state that Titanic made it back to Belfast at 6:30pm.

Departure to Southampton

  • 7pm—Liverpool Journal of Commerce
  • 7pm–7:15pm—Lowe
  • 8pm—Boxhall
  • 9pm—Northern Whig
  • 9pm—Belfast Telegraph

A 2hr time span.

Lightoller would state that Titanic departed Belfast, “Almost immediately after taking on board a few things that had been left behind, which were required for the completion of the ship…. So far as I know, requisites down in the galley, cooking apparatus, a few chairs, and such things like that.” How much time this took is unknown.

2:15: Titanic Passes Donoghdee [sic]

This most likely was supposed to read Donaghadee, a town located on the eastern edge of Ireland right when turning south out of Belfast waters into the Irish Sea. It lies 18 miles east of Belfast by land, but roughly 19.11 miles [35.4km] by water with a course east around Copeland islands.

If the time of 2:15 was meant to represent AM, and thus took place after Titanic’s departure to Southampton, Titanic would have been steaming for 5-7hrs, giving a speed of around 3-4knts which is obviously wrong.

Lowe did recall during the US Inquiry that the trials took place, “Between the heads – I think it is Copeland Point, or Copeland Head – between that and I think – mind you, I do not say that it is – I think it was Black Rock Lightship, somewhere between; because I do not know the coast… just inside, under the Copeland.”

It is unclear as to what Lowe meant when saying Black Rock, but Copeland is right off Donaghadee, which means this 2:15 time is most likely P.M. and was part of Titanic’s trials. It is interesting that this 2:15pm time is around the time Lowe gave as to the departure of Titanic for its trials. What part of the trials brought Titanic by Donaghadee? According to authors and historians John P. Eaton and Charles A. Haas, it was the running tests mentioned by Lightoller.vi

Titanic Encounters Fog

According to Boxhall Titanic encountered fog from 2am to 6am on April 3rd. How much this effected Titanic’s speed is unknown.vii

7:19am: Titanic Passes The Smalls

The Smalls was as described:

Off-lying islands and rocks.- The Smalls, situated about 19 miles westward of the entrance to Milford Haven, a low cluster of rocks with deep water close to, on the highest of which stands the lighthouse, form the outer danger of the approach to Milford Haven, from the westward. They cover a space ½ mile in extent northeast and southeast, by about 600 yards in width, and the exception of the lighthouse rock and two others just eastward of it, all are covered at high water.

The lighthouse rock, the largest of the group, is 130 yards in length at low water, and has no off lying dangers westward of it. The landing place, used only by Trinity House boats supplying the lighthouse with stores, is on the southeastern side, and receives some protection from the southern ledge of high-water rocks, which form a sort of cove at low water, but when the tide is up the water flows through. A safe landing can seldom be effected; when practicable, and anyone wishes to land, a ball is hoisted on the lighthouse; if impractical, an ensign.

Smalls Lighthouse with the coordinates of 51.72° N., 5.67° W., was thus described:

Light.- The Smalls Lighthouse is a circular stone tower, 141 feet in height, painted red and white in horizontal bands; from it is exhibited, at 126 feet above high water, a group flashing while light. The light is visible from a distance of 17 miles in clear weather….

A fixed red light is shown from the same tower at 107 feet above high water, covering the Hats and Barrels, with Grassholm and the islands to the eastward.viii

The Smalls lay around 197 miles [364km] from Belfast Lough. With these distances and the times stated for Titanic’s departure we derive the various speeds:

7pm–7:19am (12.32hrs) = 15.99knts; 8pm–7:19am (11.32hrs) = 17.4knts; 9pm–7:19am (10.32hrs) = 19.1knts

10:30am: Titanic Reported 150 Miles East of Fastnet

Fastnet Lighthouse
Fastnet Lighthouse
(Lightships and Lighthouses; Talbot; 1913 – Author’s Collection)

Fastnet Rock lighthouse is located off the southern coast of Ireland. The coordinates of the lighthouse are 51.39° N., 9.6° W. The issue is rather these 150 miles represent land miles or nautical miles. For land miles from these coordinates, bearing 90° east 130.35 nautical miles [241.4km], gives a position of 51° 23.4’ N., 6° 7.27’ W. These coordinates are 26 miles [48.16km] southwest of The Smalls with a course bearing 220.37° true.

Being that Titanic did not beach itself on The Smalls, a coordinate will be taken from crossing the courses 270° west of the Smalls and 0° north of the coordinates found for 130.35 miles east of Fastnet. These two courses intersect at 51° 43.05’ N., 6° 7.27’ W. and lie 19.67 miles [36.42km] north of the 130.35 miles coordinates.

If these 150 miles are meant to represent nautical miles [277.8km], a bearing of 90° east of Fastnet gives the coordinates of 51° 23.4’ N., 5° 35.78’ W. This would put Titanic between The Smalls and Grassholm island. Such a route was described:

Channels between the Smalls and Grassholm. – Of the three channels between the Smalls and Grassholm, the two first described are not recommended to strangers, even in daytime with clear weather, owing to the want of direct leading marks, and to the strength of the tidal streams through them; moreover, it is seldom that any advantage can be gained by using them.

That between the Smalls and the Hats is about 1¾ miles wide, and provided the Hats, or East Rock at the Smalls, are rendered visible by breakers, there is little danger. The leading mark is the South of Bishop Rock thrice its own breadth open of St. David's Head, bearing 48°.

The channel between the Hats and Barrels is 2 miles wide, and may be taken when these dangers are marked by breakers. The leading mark is Llaiethy Peaks, a conspicuous surgar loaf within St. David's Head, in line with the northern peak at Ramsey Island, bearing 45°.

The channel between the Barrels and Grassholm is during daylight almost as safe as that eastward of Grassholm. There are no dangers beyond 100 yards from Grassholm, but to avoid the race which extends 1,000 yards from it the island should be given a berth of about 1 mile. Llaiethy Peak, open southeastward of the south peak of Ramsey Island 38°, leads eastward of the Barrels.

Hats.- The rocky ground, known as the Hats, is about 1 mile in extent within a depth of 10 fathoms; it has numerous shallow heads, over which there are heavy overfalls in bad weather, particularly with a weather tide.

From the shoalest (shallowest) spot of 1¼ fathoms, the Smalls Lighthouse bears 267°, distance 2 miles; it breaks in bad weather, and except at slack or high water, the spot may generally be known by the tide rips.

Barrels.- The foul ground known as the Barrels is about ½ mile in length and breadth. Near its northern end is a rock which dries 10 feet at low-water springs, with Small Lighthouse bearing 277° 4¼ miles, and Grassholm Summit 70° 3 miles. A 2-fathom patch lies 700 yards southward from it, and foul patches of from 7 to 10 fathoms extend 1½ miles northward of the drying head.

The Barrels are generally marked by tide rips, except near slack water; in bad weather there is a heavy sea over them.

Coasters often make good work when in the wake of the rocks, but rapidly swept to leeward on opening the different passages.

Grassholm, a small island rather more than 6 miles from the western end of Skomar Island, nearly midway and in line between it and the Smalls, is about ¾ mile in circumference, and its rugged shores are scarcely approachable; landing, however, may be effected in fine weather, the position for doing so depending on wind and tide. This island being 146 feet in height is a conspicuous object, and is frequently the first land made when approaching from the southwestward.ix

An intersecting course from the previous coordinates bearing 0° north, and 90° east of The Smalls brings the coordinates of 51° 43.2’ N., 5° 35.78’ W., which lies 19.81 miles [36.69km] north of the 150 miles east coordinates.

From these two distances (19.67 miles and 19.81 miles) and a time of 3.18hrs, we get the speeds of 6.19knts and 6.23knts. It seems doubtful that Titanic slowed to such speeds unless Boxhall was wrong and Titanic encountered foggy conditions between 7:19am and 10:30am. Perhaps more likely is the lack of navigational information. Taking only a 90° bearing from Fastnet does not account for any northern or southern distances.

Taking the 3 speeds established in the last section and bearing 180° south of The Smalls for a distance ran in 3.18hrs, we get the following coordinates, distances, and bearings from Fastnet:

15.99knts, 50.85 miles [94.17km]: 50° 52.38’ N., 5° 40.2’ W., 151.3 miles [280.2km] bearing 101.84° true. 17.4knts, 55.33 miles [102.74km]: 50° 47.9’ N., 5° 40.2’ W., 152.38 miles [282.2km] bearing 103.48° true. 19.1knts, 60.74 miles [112.49km]: 50° 40.5’ N., 5° 40.2’ W., 154.5 miles [286.1km] bearing 106.14° true.

12:30pm: Titanic Passes Land’s End

Lands End North
Land’s End looking north. It may have been possible to see Titanic approaching from this angle.
(The Cornish Coast and Moors; A. G. Folliott-Stokes; 1923 – Author’s Collection)
Lands End South
Land’s End looking south. The Longships Lighthouse can be seen in the distance.
(The Cornish Coast and Moors; A. G. Folliott-Stokes; 1923 – Author’s Collection)

Land’s End is located on the southwestern tip of England. Off its tip lies the Longships Lighthouse whose coordinates are 50° 4.01’ N., 5° 44.81’ W.

Longships Rocks and Light. – About 1¼ miles W.N.W. from Land’s End, and 3 miles N.N.W. from Toll Penden Penwith, are the steep and cragged rocks named Longships, on the largest and most elevated of which stands a circular granite lighthouse, showing a white light occulting (dark 3 seconds) every minute, at 117 feet above water, visible 16 miles. The light is white to seaward from N. 27° E. to S. 15° E. leading half a mile outside the Brisons Rocks, and three-quarters of a mile outside the Runnelstone; shows red from N. 27° E. to N. 40° E., also between S. 15° E. and S. 35° E. A red light of less power is visible between the lighthouse and the land.x

Longships Lighthouse
Longships Lighthouse
(Lightships and Lighthouses; Talbot; 1913 – Author’s Collection)

From The Smalls this lighthouse is 99.3 miles [183.9km]. In 5.18hrs, a speed of 19.17knts is derived. From the coordinates derived from going 180° south of The Smalls we get the distances and speeds of:

50°38’ N., 5° 40.2’ W.: 48.49miles [89.81km] in 2hrs is 24.25knts 50°9’ N., 5° 40.2’ W.: 44.02 miles [81.52km] in 2hrs is 22.01knts 50°5’ N., 5° 40.2’ W.: 36.63 miles [67.84km] in 2hrs is 18.32knts

Further guidance was given to ships:

Land’s End Channel. – Vessels from northward intending to go between the Scilly islands and the Land’s End, should endeavor to bring the Seven Stones’ lightvessel to bear westward of South and those approaching from southward should keep it westward of North.xi

Seven Stones Light Vessel
The Seven Stones’ Lightvessel
(Lightships and Lighthouses; Talbot; 1913 – Author’s Collection)

The lightvessel’s coordinates are currently 50.0553°N., 6.0787°W.xii

South of Longships was the Wolf Rock Lighthouse:

WOLF ROCK and LIGHT.- The Wolf is about 180 feet in length by 130 feet in breadth at low water spring tides, and is bold all round. It lies 24 miles W. by N. ½ N. from the Lizard Ligththouse; 7¾ miles S.W. ¾ S. from the Longships Light; and 20 miles E. by S. from St. Mary’s Light, Scilly islands. The depth within a mile of it on all sides is 34 fathoms, in the stream of it eastward and westward 38 fathoms, and between it and the land from 34 to 37 fathoms.

The Lighthouse on Wolf rock is a gray circular granite tower about 130 feet high. The light (110 feet above high water) flashes alternately red and white, thus, - flash white 2 seconds, eclipse 13 seconds, flash red 2 seconds, eclipse 13 seconds, visible 16 miles.xiii Fog-horn, sounded as follows: - one blast 4 seconds every 30 seconds.

Wolf Rock Lighthouse
Wolf Rock Lighthouse
(Lightships and Lighthouses; Talbot; 1913 – Author’s Collection)

Vessels from eastward bound round Land’s End, when off the Lizard, should steer for the Wolf lighthouse, and not alter course for the northward until Longships lighthouse bears N. by W.; by so doing the Runnelstone will be effectually cleared. In rounding the Land’s End from northward, avoid bringing Longships lighthouse westward of North, until the Wolf lighthouse bears W. by S. ½ S., whence a course may be steered for the Lizard.xiv

Titanic Passes Close to Penzance

Penzance Harbour
(The Cornish Coast and Moors; A. G. Folliott-Stokes; 1923 – Author’s Collection)

Penzance is a town located about 8 land miles northeast of Land’s End. The article in the Cornishmanxv would read, “The Titanic shaped a course considerably nearer the land than that usually taken by liners, and as the day was fine a good view of her was observed from Penzance.” Tracing a route close to land, an estimated 15.7 miles [29.05km] may have been covered, however this is speculative.

1:35pm: Titanic off Lizard

Lizard Light
Lizard, with the lighthouse perched on the rocks, its fog sirens clearly visible
(The Cornish Coast and Moors; A. G. Folliott-Stokes; 1923 – Author’s Collection)

Lizard lies off the southern tip of England where the Celtic Sea and the English Channel meet. It was described:

The Lizard is a bold and precipitous promontory, whence vessels generally take their departure on leaving the Channel and use as a landfall when homeward bound. In clear weather it is visible 24 miles, and on a nearer approach is readily recognized by its two white towers (one with lantern). A vessel may run for it at all times, if the weather is clear; it is necessary, however, to remember that the dangers in its vicinity extend out nearly half a mile….

Two octagonal white towers, 61 feet high, stand on the cliff, well placed as leading marks, for when in line they lead clear of the Manacles at a safe offing. An electric white light, flashing every 3 seconds (flash one-eighth second), is established at the East tower; it is 230 feet above the sea, visible 21 miles.

The light is shown from N. 42° W. westward to N. 88° E., and intermittently to N. 73° E.xvi

The Lizard Lighthouse’s coordinates are 49° 57.62’ N., 5° 12.13’ W. Keeping the Seven Stones’ Lightvessel to the west, we have roughly 127.03 miles [235.26km] from The Smalls. With a 6.27hr run time, we get a speed of 20.26knts. From Longships Lighthouse to Lizard Lighthouse is roughly 22.68 miles [42km]. With a time of 1.08hrs we get a speed of 21knts.

Lizard Fog Sirens
The fog sirens at The Lizard Lighthouse
(Lightships and Lighthouses; Talbot; 1913 – Author’s Collection)

Dr. Paul Lee’s paper highlights the issue that, to get from 150 miles east of Fastnet at 10:30am to a point off the Lizard at 1:35pm (a time of 3.08hrs) would require the impossible speed of 35knts. Taking the coordinates of 51° 23.4’ N., 5° 35.78’ W., established by going 150 miles bearing 90° east of Fastnet, we get 102.79 miles [190.37km], giving us a speed of 33.37knts, still grossly exceeding Titanic’s capabilities!

However, when taking into consideration the coordinates established in ‘Section J’ bearing 180° south of The Smalls, we get the distances and speeds of:

50°38’ N., 5° 40.2’ W.: 70.92 miles [131.35km] in 3.08hrs is 23.03knts 50°9’ N., 5° 40.2’ W.: 66.45 miles [123.06km] in 3.08hrs is 21.57knts 50°5’ N., 5° 40.2’ W.: 59.07 miles [109.39km] in 3.08hrs is 19.18knts

Titanic Passes Prawle Point

Prawle Point is on the southern coast of England, 59 miles [109.27km] from Lizard. East Prawle has the coordinates of 50.21° N., 3.71° W. Three miles further east is the Start Point Lighthouse.

The lighthouse on the Start exhibits, at 204 feet above high water, a white light flashing every 20 seconds, thus: flash one second, eclipse 19 seconds, visible 20 miles, from S. 86° W. southward to N 19° E.

The lighthouse is a circular tower painted white, 92 feet high; its position is lat. 50° 13’ 18” N., long. 3° 38’ 28 W. xvii

Titanic and Olympic Pass off Portland

Portland, like Prawle Point, is off the southern coast of England. Its lighthouse, Portland Bill Lighthouse, has the coordinates of 50.51° N., 2.45° W. These coordinates lie roughly 134 miles [248.17km] from Longships Lighthouse and 48.66 miles [90.11] from Start Point Lighthouse.

The 1911 Sailing Directions would read:

Portland Bill is easily recognized, being very lofty, and sloping towards the north. It is about 3½ miles long and 1½ miles wide, and extends out from the mainland nearly 6 miles, being connected with the shore by a pebbly beach, which divides Portland road from West bay. In its highest part the island is 488 feet above the level of the sea.

(Report on European Dockyards; Hichborn; 1896 – Author’s Collection)

The Bill of Portland may be closely approached, as there are 3 to 4 fathoms water at 2 cables off, on the south-east side, which is the shoalest; but by keeping outside the depth of 5 fathoms all danger will be avoided. It is advisable not to approach the land nearer than 30 or 27 fathoms in thick weather, or during the night.

Light.- A cylindrical lighthouse, white with one red band, stands 130 yards within the extremity of the Bill and exhibits a group-flashing white light, four flashes every 20 seconds, at 141 feet above the sea, visible 18 miles. Position, lat. 50° 30¾’ N., long. 2° 27¼’ E.

A subsidiary fixed red light, viable from S. 53° E. to S. 73° E., over the Shambles, is exhibited from a window in the same tower; it is 63 feet above the sea and visible 13 miles.xviii

Olympic, having set sail from Southampton at 12pm,xix left Cherbourg, Francexx at 7pm.xxi Cherbourg is 60.68 miles [112.38km] south from Portland Bill Lighthouse. Depending on Titanic’s speed, Titanic could have traveled the 135.5 miles necessary to pass Olympic – having just left Cherbourg, though probably not within sight.xxii Without much more information though, it is hard to make an exact conclusion.

Titanic off Isle of Wight

Needles Lighthouse Lantern
The Light at the Needles Lighthouse
(Lightships and Lighthouses; Talbot; 1913 – Author’s Collection)

Being that two of the data points we have for Titanic being off the Isle of Wight state that this took place 24 hours after Titanic left Belfast – to which they assign the time of 9pm, it is from this time that we will derive Titanic’s speed. The unfortunate part of this data point is that it does not state an area as to where Titanic was off. Was Titanic off the far west coast, along the southern coast or rounding the eastern coast of the Isle of Wight?

The far western coast of the Isle of Wight can be marked by The Needles Lighthouse located at the coordinates of 50° 39.74’ N., 1° 35.51’ W. As we know Titanic took a course along the southern coast of the Isle of Wight, therefore, bearing 180° south for 7.02 miles [13km] from The Needles Lighthouse (allowing Titanic to steam along the southern coast) gives us 50° 32’ 44” N., 1° 35’ 31” W.

From the Longships Lighthouse to these coordinates, we roughly get 172 miles [318.6km]. With a time from 12:30pm to 9pm (8.5hrs), we get a speed of 20.24knts. From the Lizard Lighthouse is roughly 143 miles [264.84km], and with a time of 7.42hrs, we get a speed of 19.27knts.

The southern coast of the Isle of Wight was thus described:


Variation (1912), 15½° to 15¾° W.

The South Coast of the Isle of Wight is high, and visible from a considerable distance, particularly its most southern portion; the hills over St. Catherin Point being 800 feet high, are distinctly seen in clear weather at the distance of 25 or 30 miles. At the white chalky coast forming Culver Cliff the land is high, Bembridge down over it being 312 feet above the sea; it then decreases in height in a south-westerly direction, until at Dunnose it suddenly rises to the height of 760 feet, and this high land is continued as far as St. Catherine point, when it again decreases in elevation as far as the Needles point, the white chalky cliffs of which render it conspicuous when contrasted with the dark coloured land behind it.xxiii

For the far eastern coast, before rounding into Spithead, we will take a course 180° south of the Bembridge Lifeboat Station located at 50° 41’ 24.7” N., 1° 4’ 13.7” W., also going 7.02 miles [13km]. This leads to the coordinates of 50° 34’ 24” N., 1° 4’ 14” W. From Longships this is a rough distance of 185.8 miles [344.10km]. With a time of 8.5hrs this gives a speed of 21.82knts. From Lizard is a rough distance of 163 miles [301.88km] to travel in 7.42hrs, giving us a speed of 21.97knts.

From Belfast to the coordinates south of The Needles Lighthouse is 463.88 miles [859.10] which gives us a speed of 19.32knts for a 24hr run. To the coordinates south of the Bembridge Lifeboat Station is 483.83 miles [896.06km] giving a speed of 20.16knts.

Titanic Arrives in Southampton

Southampton Docks
Southampton docks
(Engineering – Author’s Collection)

As Titanic steamed around the Isle of Wight, Titanic would enter the waters known as Spithead. At night the approach for large vessels was described:

Large vessels off Dunnose (with St. Catherine light in sight W. ¾ N., and the Nab light N.E. by E ½ E.) should make for the Nab light on the latter bearing. After passing the lightvessel at a convenient distance on its western side, the course should be directed about N. by W. towards the Nab End light-buoy, off which Warner lightvessel the course is N.W. ¼ W. When Spit fort light opens out westward of Horse fort light a N. N. W. ¾ W. course will lead between the lights on Horse and No-mans-land forts, and through Spithead.xxiv

Nab Lightvessel, moored 8 fathoms water 3 miles south-eastward of Nab rock, exhibits a white light, double-flashing every 45 seconds, at 40 feet above the sea, visible 11 miles. The vessel is red and carries a ball. Fog-horn, four blasts of two seconds each quick succession every 30 seconds. Submarine fog bell, four strokes, - silence five seconds. Position, lat. 50° 40’ 15” N., long. 0° 57’ 15” W.xxv

As Titanic passed from the Spit into the eastern Solent, Titanic would pick up a Trinity House Pilot to help navigate the rest of the journey to its dock.

Pilots. – Portsmouth is the headquarters of the pilots for the Isle of Wight and adjacent districts; they have 6 cutters, and 6 private steam tugs are available. There are 30 sea and 11 harbour licensed pilots, 4 of the latter being for Portsmouth.xxvi

Pilots. – Two pilot vessels cruise in the vicinity of the entrance to Spithead, - one outside a line drawn between the Boulder buoy, the Nab End bell-buoy and Dunnose; the other, between the Nab End buoy and Gilkicker point.xxvii

Passing through the eastern Solent, Titanic would proceed into Southampton waters, which when doing so at night, the guidance was thus given:

Eastern Channel. – Pass one cable eastward of the East Bramble Buoy, steer about N.W. ¼ N. for Calshot; this leads to Hill head buoy, which should be passed close to, and when midway between Calshot spit lightvessel, shape a course to pass 2 cables westward of Calshot lightvessel, and proceed as before.xxviii

From Calshot castle, the distance to Southampton is 5 miles, almost N.N.W.xxix Titanic’s dock (berth 44) lays at the coordinates of 50.892° N., 1.3975° W.xxx The distances from various positions to Titanic’s dock are listed below.

  • The Smalls Lighthouse: 311.03 miles [576.02km]
  • Longships Lighthouse: 211.64 miles [391.95km]
  • Lizard Lighthouse: 189.04 miles [350.10km]
  • Isle of Wight (South of The Needles Lighthouse): 46.11 miles [85.4km]
  • Isle of Wight (South of Bembridge Lifeboat Station): 26.14 miles [48.42km].

With these measurements we will look at the data for when Titanic supposedly arrived at its dock.

Besides the articles that merely claim that Titanic arrived on the 3rd – the same day the newspapers were published, leaving some speculation as to their accuracy – we have two times for Titanic’s arrival on this date 10:30pm and 11pm. With these times, the following speeds are derived:

  • The Smalls: 7:19am-10:30pm (15.18hrs) = 20.5knts
  • The Smalls: 7:19am-11pm (15.68hrs) = 19.84knts
  • Longships: 12:30pm-10:30pm (10hrs) = 21.17knts
  • Longships: 12:30pm-11pm (10.5hrs) = 20.17knts
  • Lizard: 1:35pm-10:30pm (8.92hrs) = 21.19knts
  • Lizard: 1:35pm-11pm (9.42hrs) = 20.7knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of The Needles): 9pm-10:30pm (1.5hrs) = 30.74knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of The Needles): 9pm-11pm (2hrs) = 23.06knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of Bembridge): 9pm-10:30pm (1.5hrs) = 17.43knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of Bembridge): 9pm-11pm (2hrs) = 13.07knts

It has been stated that Nab Lightship marked the end of Titanic’s voyage as far as the public was concerned, like the Ambrose Lightvessel in New York.; so perhaps Titanic did not dock at Southampton at these times, but merely made it to the Nab Lightvessel. The speeds needed to get to the Nab Lightvessel from the previous locations are:

  • The Smalls: 292.28 miles [541.31km] 15.18hrs = 19.25knts
  • The Smalls: 292.28 miles [541.31km] 15.68hrs = 18.64knts
  • Longships: 192.73 miles [356.94km] 10hrs = 19.27knts
  • Longships: 192.73 miles [356.94km] 10.5hrs = 18.35knts Lizard: 170.32 miles [315.44km] 8.92hrs = 19.09knts
  • Lizard: 170.32 miles [315.44km] 9.42hrs = 18.08knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of The Needles): 27.3 miles [50.56km] 1.5hrs = 18.2knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of The Needles): 27.3 miles [50.56km] 2hrs = 13.65knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of Bembridge): 7.34 miles [13.6km] 1.5hrs = 4.89knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of Bembridge): 7.34 miles [13.6km] 2hrs = 3.67knts

For Titanic arriving on April 4th there are three times given for Titanic arriving at its docks on April 4th, them being 12am, 1am and 1:15am. Again, we will take the various locations and the times needed for Titanic to travel from those locations to its dock to find the average speed. We will also take into consideration the idea that Titanic was off the Nab Light vessel at 10:30pm-11pm. The distance from the Nab Lightvessel to Titanic’s dock being 21.7 miles [40.2km].

  • The Smalls: 7:19am-12am (16.68hrs) = 18.65knts
  • The Smalls: 7:19am-1am (17.68hrs) = 17.59knts
  • The Smalls: 7:19am-1:15am (17.93hrs) = 17.35knts
  • Longships: 12:30pm-12am (11.5hrs) = 18.40knts
  • Longships: 12:30pm- 1am (12.5hrs) = 16.93knts
  • Longships: 12:30pm- 1:15am (12.75hrs) = 16.6knts
  • Lizard: 1:35pm-12am (10.42hrs) = 18.14knts
  • Lizard: 1:35pm-1am (11.42hr) = 16.55knts
  • Lizard: 1:35pm-1:15am (11.75hrs) = 16.09knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of The Needles): 9pm-12am (3hrs) = 15.37knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of The Needles): 9pm-1am (4hrs) = 11.53knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of The Needles): 9pm-1:15am (4.25hrs) = 10.85knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of Bembridge): 9pm-12am (3hrs) = 8.71knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of Bembridge): 9pm-1am (4hrs) = 6.54knts
  • Isle of Wight (South of Bembridge): 9pm-1:15am (4.25hrs) = 6.15knts
  • Nab Lightvessel: 10:30pm-12am (1.5hrs) = 14.47knts
  • Nab Lightvessel: 10:30pm-1am (2.5hrs) = 8.68knts
  • Nab Lightvessel: 10:30am-1:15am (2.75hrs) = 7.89knts
  • Nab Lightvessel: 11pm-12am (1hr) = 21.7knts
  • Nab Lightvessel: 11pm-1am (2hrs) = 10.85knts
  • Nab Lightvessel: 11am-1:15am (2.25hrs) = 9.64knts

26 Hour Run

We are given a two-hour time span of between 7pm-9pm, for when Titanic departed Belfast to Southampton. From these times, with a 26hr run we come to the following times: 7pm=9pm, 7:15pm=9:15pm, 8pm=10pm, 9pm=11pm

As previously seen, Titanic was reported to be off the Isle of Wight by 9pm, and there is no data to support Titanic making it into its docks as early as 9pm or 9:15pm. A 10pm time is a half hour earlier than the earliest data point of 10:30pm. For Titanic to have been off any of the southern points, off the Isle of Wight, derived for this paper, at 9pm, impossible speeds would have been needed for Titanic to complete its voyage in an hour’s time. The time of 11pm has already been looked at in the previous section.

In taking into consideration the Titanic being off the Isle of Wight in 24hrs and changing the time of 9pm to reflect the 7pm and 8pm data, we see that from the Lizard Lighthouse, for which Titanic was off at 1:35pm, the following speeds result:

  • 7pm South of the Needles: 143 miles [264.84km] 5.42hrs = 26.38knts;
  • 7pm South of Bembridge Lifeboat Station: 163 miles [301.88km] 5.42 = 30.07knts;
  • 8pm South of the Needles: 143 miles [264.84km] 6.42hrs = 22.27knts;
  • 8pm South of Bembridge Lifeboat Station: 163 miles [301.88km] 6.42hrs. = 25.39knts

We have already seen that for Titanic to have docked in a 2hr time span from being south of the Needles a speed of 23.06knts would have been required. For the same span of time, but with a position south of the Bembridge Lifeboat Station, a speed of only 13.23knts would have been needed.

When taking into consideration the arrival time of 10:30pm, Titanic would have to have departed Belfast at 8:30pm which falls within the range of time provided in the data. Again, substituting the time of 9pm for being off the Isle of Wight in 24hrs, and putting in the time of 8:30pm, we come to the following speeds needed from the Lizard:

  • 8:30pm South of the Needles: 143 miles [264.84km] 6.92hrs = 20.66knts,
  • 8:30pm South of Bembridge Lifeboat Station: 163 miles [301.88km] 6.92hrs. = 23.55knts
Berth 44 Southampton
The White Star Docks. Titanic would have docked at berth 44.
(Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers Vol. CXCV – Author’s Collection)

Part 3: Conclusion

The data does not allow for us to determine at what time Titanic’s trials begun, nor how long they lasted. Evidence does show that Titanic was seen heading south past Donaghadee at 2:15pm, during what author and historians John P. Eaton and Charles Haas state was Titanic’s running test, which according to Lightoller took about four hours to complete. If this was the last open water test, it should have finished around 6:15pm, which is around the 6:30pm time Lowe states Titanic was back in Belfast.

We are given a two-hour range of time for Titanic’s departure from Belfast to Southampton. Lowe’s half-hour to forty-five minutes seems too short if, as Lightoller states, stuff was still being taken on board Titanic before its departure. However, Lowe’s 7pm time (based on calculations) is collaborated by the ‘Liverpool Journal of Commerce.’ The time of 9pm is given in a couple newspapers and is used as a 24hr maker for Titanic to be off the Isle of Wight.

After Titanic passed through fog between 2am and 6am on April 3rd, it was reported to be by The Smalls at 7:19am. The speeds (15.99, 17.4, and 19.1knts) necessary to reach this point based on the various start times we are given, are within reason, especially since we know from Wilding that Titanic at some point reached the speed of 23.25knts while steaming south. At 10:30am (3.18hrs later) Titanic was reported 150 miles east of Fastnet. This only seems to make sense if Titanic was at an angled bearing, and not a direct 90° bearing from Fastnet.

Two hours later Titanic was reported off of Land’s End, which is marked by the Longships Lighthouse. The coordinates of 50° 52.38’ N., 5° 40.2’ W., derived for Titanic traveling at a speed of 15.99knts, leads to the implausible speed of 24.25knts, which indicates that the coordinates are wrong, though this does not dismiss the departure time from Belfast of 7pm, as any increase of speed from 15.99knts would have allowed Titanic to travel further south. The two other speeds derived are well within reason.

After avoiding bringing ‘Longships lighthouse westward of North’ until Wolf lighthouse bore W. S. ½ S., Titanic would round Land’s End and make a course towards the Lizard. It was noted that while steaming towards Lizard Titanic passed closer to Penzance than normally done by ships. Titanic was reported off Lizard at 1:35pm, 1.08hrs after being off Land’s End. Though higher than Lightoller’s average of 18knts, the speeds needed to reach Lizard from the Smalls and Longships of 20.26knts and 21knts, respectfully, are well within reason. We also see that an angled bearing, 150 miles from Fastnet, allows for the more realistic speeds of 19.18-23.03knts, rather than the 33.37knts needed for a straight 90° eastward bearing.

After passing the Lizard Lighthouse Titanic was seen steaming east past Prawle Point, and thus the Start Point Lighthouse. From there Titanic would be off Portland where it presumably passed close by the Olympic, which had just departed Cherbourg, France. Titanic would continue towards the southern coast of the Isle of Wight.

Titanic was reported off the Isle of Wight at 9pm. Since it is not clear as to where Titanic was, two positions for the extreme western and eastern edges along the southern coast have been derived. Speeds to either coast from both the Longships and Lizard are within reason. Both points also bring about reasonable speeds for a 24hr run.

Sailing Direction
1911 Sailing Directions for the English Channel
(Author’s Collection)

Two times of 10:30pm and 11pm are given for Titanic arriving on April 3rd. If Titanic was off either derived southern point off the Isle of Wight, the speeds necessary would be either impossible or too high for a ship to steer and dock in a narrow channel at night. The only way these times work with Titanic being off the Isle of Wight at 9pm is if we except the times to represent Titanic not docking but ending its journey at the Nab Lightvessel.

The three times of 12am, 1am and 1:15am, given for Titanic docking on April 4th bring about average speeds more in line with Lightoller’s 18knts. Continuing the hypothesis that Titanic was off the Nab Lightvessel at 10:30pm or 11pm, we see that a 1-1.5hr run produces rather high speeds that are seemingly unreasonable, again, for a ship navigating a narrow channel and docking at night. Even the speed of 10.85knts developed from 11pm-1am may be a bit high. Thus a 2.25-2.75hr run seems more likely and is in line with the Port Authority’s log.

It was reported that Titanic completed its voyage from Belfast to Southampton in 26hrs. For the departure time of 7pm and 7:15pm, this would require Titanic to have completed it journey at 9-9:15pm, the time stated for Titanic being off the Isle of Wight. When adjusting the 24hr run time of 9pm to reflect the time of 7pm impossible speeds would have been required for Titanic to make it from the Lizard to either points off the southern coast of the Isle of Wight.

For the departure time of 8pm, and thus a 26hr time of 10pm, Titanic, again, could not have been off the Isle of Wight at 9pm. For Titanic being off the Isle of Wight in 24hrs, replacing the time of 9pm with 8pm, the only scenario that produced a realistic speed from the Lizard is if Titanic was south of the Needles. However, to dock in a span of 2hrs from this time would require the unrealistic speed of 23.06knts. A more realistic scenario is if the time of 10pm reflected Titanic reaching the Nab Lightvessel, where only a speed of 13.65knts would be needed.

This holds true with Titanic docking at 10:30pm, as the speeds needed to reach the southeastern point off the Isle of Wight would have been unrealistic when replacing 9pm with 8:30pm. Instead, again, we see that Titanic would have to have been off the Needles, which again brings up the issue of the speed needed for Titanic to have docked in 2hrs.

For Titanic docking at 11pm, thus departing Belfast at 9pm and reaching the Isle of Wight by 9pm, either speed from the Lizard to either southern point off the Isle of Wight, are realistic, them being 19.27knts (south of the Needles) and 21.97knts (south of Bembridge Lifeboat Station). We have already seen that for Titanic to have been off the Needles and docked in 2hrs would have required the unrealistic speed of 23.06knts. For Titanic to have been south of the Lifeboat Station and docked in 2hrs would have required only a speed of 13.07knts, which again may have been too high for navigating a narrow channel and docking at night.

It appears then that for Titanic to have been both off the Isle of Wight in 24hrs and to have finished its voyage in 26hrs, Titanic would have to have been south of the Bembridge Lifeboat Station, and the only two realistic speeds derived for such a scenario, are from Titanic being off that location at 9pm and docking at either 10:30pm and 11pm, though both speeds of 17.43knts and 13.07knts are still plausibly too high. Therefore, it seems more plausible that this 26hr run was not Titanic docking at Southampton, but instead being more in line with the hypothesis that these times merely marked the end of its voyage by the Nab Lightvessel.

Lowe’s confusing statement that, “I was not on duty from the time the Titanic was taken out. It was taken in tow at half past 9 that morning. I was below,” after he had just mentioned that his watch was from 9:30am-5:30pm is hard to justify. If Lowe began his watch at 9:30am, and the ship was taken in tow at 9:30am, then Lowe would have been on duty and would have known all about it. Plus, Smith’s last question of it being midnight Thursday, is in contradiction with what Lowe just said. Did Lowe misspeak ‘morning’ instead of night? This could explain Smith’s question, as he may have wanted clarification. Or was Lowe recalling the time Titanic was taken out for its trials, though he would place this being at 2pm?

What is clear from reading the testimony of Titanic’s officers, is that they did not remember much about Titanic’s trials. This should not be surprising, as by the time of the sinking it had already been 10-11 days since Titanic docked at Southampton. What all four officers did agree on though, is that Titanic reached Southampton about midnight on the 4th.

The newspaper evidence is no clearer than that of Titanic’s officers, and though they offer some glimpses into Titanic’s whereabouts, there are too many discrepancies to allow for a clear picture. The Port Authority’s log is perhaps the most unbiased piece of data we have and is substantiated by at least two other sources – though they say 1am and not precisely 1:15am. Overall, it appears that until further research reveals more data, there will always remain some mysteries about Titanic’s short voyage from Belfast to Southampton.

Part 4: Map

Map of Titanic’s voyage by author. For visual aid only. Land masses not completely accurate.
1. Belfast, 2. Donaghadee, 3. The Smalls Lighthouse, 4. Fastnet Lighthouse, 5. Longships Lighthouse, 6. Penzance, 7. Lizard Lighthouse, 8. Start Point Lighthouse, 9. Portland Bill Lighthouse, 10. Isle of Wight, 11. Southampton


  1. The Delivery Trip, paullee.com
  2. This speed seems rather amazing, as this was the top speed Titanic was built for with all boilers lit, and could be achieved, “When everything had got into good working order, and the staff got used to the ship, in fine weather...” [Wilding, British Inquiry 20923-24] Though it is unknown how many boilers were lit during this voyage, it is known that Titanic did not have a full complement of firemen, only 118 according to the list compiled by Encyclopedia Titanica’s website as apposed to 174 during its maiden voyage - according to Günter Bäbler’s Guide to the Crew of Titanic. (These numbers include leading firemen.) This author can only speculate that perhaps not all auxiliary machinery was on, thus allowing more steam to be fed into the engines.
  3. The papers listed are not a complete list of all papers found. As the information was redundant some papers have been left out, while some duplicate information has been kept showing the frequency of the data.
  4. The Liverpool Daily Post ( Wed. April 3rd) would read:

    Five Liverpool tugs were engaged in the operation of towing the big liner down the channel, but opposite Carrickfergus they cast off, and the vessel proceeded under her own steam to carry out speed and machinery trials.

    The Belfast News-Letter (Tues. April 2nd) would read:

    Shipping Intelligence – Arrived at this port on 31st ult. And 1st inst.

    Tugs Wallasey, Chadwick; Herald, Davis; Huskisson, Rathbone; and Herculaneum, Adams, from Liverpool; come to assist the ss Titanic.

    This author assumes the name after each comma were the captains’ names.

  5. * Indicates that it is the same article.
  6. Titanic Triumph and Tragedy 3rd Edition; Haynes Publishing; 2011 (pg. 48)
  7. Sometime during the night Titanic’s clocks would have been set 25 minutes ahead to change from Dublin time, kept in Ireland, to Greenwich time. For example, 12am Dublin time would be 12:25am Greenwich time.
  8. British Islands Pilot: The West Coast of England and Wales; United States Hydrographic Office; 1917 (pg. 133)
  9. British Islands Pilot: The West Coast of England and Wales; United States Hydrographic Office; 1917 (pgs. 134-35)
  10. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg. 144)
  11. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg. 146)
  12. This author could not find any reference to what the coordinates may have been around 1912.
  13. “The lighthouse by day, and the light by night, convert this much dreaded danger into a safety beacon like the Eddystone, and greatly tend to simplify the hitherto dangerous navigation around the Land’s End.” - Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911
  14. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg. 143)
  15. http://www.paullee.com/Titanic/BNA/Cornishman_April_11_1912.pdf
  16. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg. 137)
  17. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg. 109)
  18. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg. 93)
  19. www.phillyseaport.org/web_exhibits/mini_exhibits/Titanic_passenger_list/images/booklet-large/1989.033.611f.jpg

    Though this author cannot validate its accuracy, as a fun little sidenote, the Dundee Evening Telegraph on April 3rd, 1912, would read:


    To guard against a possible shortage of fuel on arrival at New York, the Olympic which arrived at Southampton on Saturday, and is due to leave to-day, has been coaled to her utmost capacity, the third-class dining saloon having been completely filled.

    Accommodation for passengers will be provided in the fore part of the vessel during the voyage.

  20. The Sailing Directions English Channel (pg. 4-6) would read of Cherbourg:

    Cherbourg, about a equi-distance from capes Barfleur and la Hague, is a very important French naval dockyard, and the town contains about 37,000 inhabitants….

    The Commercial port consists of an outer harbour and a wet dock, approached by a channel between two parallel stone jetties, 60 yards apart, the eastern jetty being much longer than the western one.

    Lights.- On the outer end of the eastern jetty is a white stone tower, showing a double-flashing red light (unwatched) every 8 to 13 second, at 33 feet above high water visible 8 miles. In fogs, a bell is struck three times in quick succession every 10 seconds.

    BREAKWATERS.- Cherbourg breakwater, a detached structure 4,000 yards long, protects Cherbourg road from the north. On it are four forts, fort de l’Ouest at the western end, fort Intermédiate, fort Central, and fort de l’East at the eastern extremity. A black buoy marks the western extreme of the breakwater and a red buoy the eastern extreme.

    Ile Pelee breakwater, …is about 2,200 yards long, stretching out northward from the shore at Gréves point and then extending north northwest, with various small openings, until it joins for Imperial on ile Peleé. This protects Cherbourg road from the east.

    Querqueville breakwater extends about 1,270 yards E. ¼ S. from the inner part of Querquevile point and protects the west entrance of Cherbourg road. It passes close northward of the isolated fort Chavagnac, leaving an opening between its extremity and Cherbourg breakwater about 5½ cables wide.

    CHANNEL.- Ships of war and vessels of deep draught enter the road by channels round both ends of Cherbourg breakwater, the west channel being named Passe de lOuest, and the eastern channel Passe de l’Est. The Passe de l’Ouest is available at all times for the deepest ships; the Passe de l’Est is only available for such ships between half-flood and half-ebb.

    Passe de l’Ouest is the best channel and is about half a mile wide; there is no difficulty in entering it with a leading wind, vessels having only approach the western end of Cherbourg breakwater on about a S.S.E. bearing, and, on nearing it, to pass midway between it and Querqueville breakwater. Those of deep draught, turning in with the flood stream, after passing within the breakwaters and fort Chavagnac, must carefully avoid the rocky ground with 12 feet water, 5 cables E.N.E. from Rockefort rock, also Ténarde shoal; it is imprudent to turn through at night unless the weather is clear and moonlight.

    Passe de l’Est is between the eastern end of Cherbourg breakwater and the two black buoys marking the most dangerous spots on the western edge of Pelée islet bank, viz., the Roches du Nord-Ouest and Truite rock. The narrowest part of the channel is 2 1/3 cables wide between the breakwater and Truite buoys, and has in it from 24 to 32 feet, the deepest water being close to the breakwater; but being narrow, this channel has also the disadvantage of being crossed obliquely by the tidal streams, rendering it dangerous for sailing vessels with light winds and impracticable calms; there is, however, no difficulty in a steamer or with a commanding breeze.

    Anchorages. - The anchorages recommended are, for large vessels, the Great road and the anchorage near the breakwater eastward of the Intermédiate fort; and for smaller vessels the Little road and the anchorage near the eastern part of the breakwater.

  21. Olympic’s PV as presented in Dr. Paul Lee’s paper.
  22. Dr. Paul Lee’s paper states, “The analysis was performed to ascertain if the Olympic and Titanic could have seen each other during the evening of 3rd April. As can be seen, the two ships were heading in different directions. It is possible that the very faint glimmerings of each other mastlights could be see from the crows nest - if one was looking in the correct direction. The Titanic was at 51°18'N, 2°13W (approx). The end of civil twilight was at 7.19pm and nautical Twilight was at 8pm. It would therefore be difficult to see anything at distance anyway.”
  23. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg. 88)
  24. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg. 66)
  25. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg.62)
  26. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg. 70)
  27. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg. 64)
  28. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg. 77)
  29. Sailing Directions English Channel; British & French Governments; October 1911 (pg. 74)
  30. Google Search ‘Titanic Dock Southampton Coordinates'


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  1. Michael H. Standart

    Michael H. Standart said:

    I'll be posting the link to this on my Facebook page tomorrow!

  2. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie said:

    A great bit of detailed work, Brad. As a matter of interest, a vessel voyage has two starts and two finishes. F.a.o.p. to E.o.p. and Berth to Berth. Since often, a ship will be delayed at the pilot station waiting on a berth it was usual to use Pilot to pilot, i.e. FullAway on Passage to End of Passage. The distance from Belfast to Southhampton as per the route tables in force in 1912 is shown as 492 nautical miles.- pilot to pilot. At the end of the voyage, the logbook would record what was known as G.a.s. - General average speed. This was found by dividing the total distance

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