Page 14 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
P. 14
That, I think, ends what the witness says in this passage in that connection. So that there you have it, my Lord, that you may have a swell and no effect on the ship, and from the deck you could not distinguish by the appearance of the sea as to whether there was a swell, which there almost invariably is, or whether, as once in a lifetime happens, it is a perfect calm without any swell at all. The Commissioner: It is pointed out to me, Sir Robert, that he never had had the experience which would have enabled him to say whether there was a flat surface such as he described before, because he had never been in a boat. The only way to find it out was being in a boat and being unable to disengage the tackle. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes. The Commissioner: That is the only way to find it out, and unless he had had experience of that kind before, his experience of 24 years was of no use. Sir Robert Finlay: That is a perfectly just observation as far as it goes, but at the same time I think we have from other witnesses the statement - I think among them Sir Ernest Shackleton - that the absence of swell is an extraordinarily rare phenomenon. The Commissioner: I have been on the ocean a good deal, according to my own view of the matter, and I do not remember any occasion when there was absolutely no motion of the ship. Sir Robert Finlay: It is certainly very rare indeed, my Lord. The Commissioner: It is very slow and very pleasant, but it is there. Sir Robert Finlay: On a big ship my impression is that you do not notice a mere swell, unless it is a very big thing indeed after a storm; that there is really no motion on the ship, because the ship extends over such an extent of the sea. In a small boat, of course, you get it very much, because the boat rises and falls with the swell, but on a big steamer you do not. Of course, that accounts for the fact that people are so much more seasick in small boats than in big steamers. The steadiness of the steamer prevents you being sensible of the motion of the sea, and the sea from the deck looks perfectly calm. The Commissioner: There is the possibility that the vessel and the boat will move simultaneously and to the same extent upwards and downwards; and if that took place, then the tackle would remain fastened to the boat, and the fact that the tackle did not become disengaged would have no significance. Sir Robert Finlay: I submit, my Lord, that that is very improbable, because you have the great mass of the ship and the small mass of the boat. The great mass of the ship is, as experience every time one goes to sea shows, very little, if at all, affected by the swell; the small boat is affected. The Commissioner: Would that be so if there were a very long swell? Sir Robert Finlay: I submit so, my Lord. You may have a swell so big after a storm that it affects by its motion even a big ship, but my point is, and I submit it answers the observation your Lordship mentioned as a possible one, that the amount to which the small boat is affected would be absolutely different from the amount to which the big ship was affected, and it is that which you have to look at on the question of disengaging the tackle. The Commissioner: I suppose a small boat in a swell does move relatively much more than a large vessel would. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes, that is my point. The Commissioner: I am not sure about it. Sir Robert Finlay: It is so, my Lord. The Commissioner: It depends on the length of the swell and the height also. Sir Robert Finlay: Oh, it does, but I do not think it can be doubted that the small boat will be very much more affected by the swell than a big ship. The Commissioner: However, here is Lightoller actually looking at a boat, and at the tackle,
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