Page 141 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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appear just as smooth as a billiard table, perfectly smooth; you cannot detect the swell. The higher you are the more difficult it is to detect a slight swell. (Q.) That means, then, does it not, that if you are on the bridge and you are relying on the fact that there may be a slight swell, you really cannot tell from the bridge whether there is a swell or not - a slight swell? - (A.) We look at it rather the other way - that, though the sea may appear smooth, we pretty well know that there is a swell, though it may not be visible to the eye, nor yet have any effect on the ship. It is a most rare occurrence - (Q.) You mean there nearly always is a swell in the North Atlantic? - (A.) This is the first time in my experience in the Atlantic in 24 years, and I have been going across the Atlantic nearly all the time, of seeing an absolutely flat sea. (Q.) Do you agree from that experience that this was an occasion when it was an absolutely flat sea? - (A.) Absolutely flat. (The Commissioner.) Not in fact, but to all appearance? - (A.) In fact, my Lord. (The Solicitor- General.) He means in fact, my Lord. (The Commissioner.) Do you mean there was no swell at all? - (A.) I mean to say that the sea was so absolutely flat that when we lowered the boats down we had to actually overhaul the tackles to unhook them, because there was not the slightest lift on the boat to allow for slacking, unhooked.” That the absence of swell they detected afterwards when they got down to the water; they did not know it from the deck. I think your Lordship will recollect that one of the Assessors, I think it was Captain Clarke, informed your Lordship in the course of the case, as your Lordship stated, that sailors talk of it as calm although there is a swell on. Then, on page 306, the witness goes on at Question 13615: “At five minutes to 9, when the Commander came on the bridge (I will give it to you as near as I can remember) he remarked that it was cold, and as far as I remember, I said, ‘Yes, it is very cold, sir.’ In fact, I said, ‘it is only 1 deg. above freezing. I have sent word down to the carpenter,’” and so on - “We then commenced to speak about the weather. He said, ‘There is not much wind.’ I said, ‘No, it is a flat calm as a matter of fact.’ He repeated it; he said, ‘A flat calm.’ I said, ‘Yes, quite flat, there is no wind.’ I said something about it was rather a pity the breeze had not kept up whilst we were going through the ice region. Of course, my reason was obvious; he knew I meant the water ripples breaking on the base of the berg. (Q.) You said it was a pity there was not a breeze? - (A.) Yes, I said , ‘It is a pity there is not a breeze,’ and we went on to discuss the weather. He was then getting his eyesight, you know, and he said, ‘Yes, it seems quite clear,’ and I said, ‘Yes, it is perfectly clear.’ It was a beautiful night, there was not a cloud in the sky. The sea was apparently smooth, and there was no wind, but at that time you could see the stars rising and setting with absolute distinctness. (Q.) On the horizon? - (A.) On the horizon. We then discussed the indications of ice. I remember saying, ‘In any case there will be a certain amount of reflected lights from the bergs.’ He said, ‘Oh yes, there will be a certain amount of reflected light.’ I said, or he said; blue was said between us - that even though the blue side of the berg was towards us, probably the outline, the white outline would give us sufficient warning, that we should be able to see it a good distance, and, as far as we could see, we should be able to see it. Of course, it was just with regard to that possibility of the blue side being towards us, and that if it did happen to be turned with the purely blue side towards us, there would still be the white outline. (The Commissioner.) Then you had both made up your minds at that time that you were about to encounter icebergs? - (A.) No, my Lord, not necessarily.” That merely means they were in the region where the possibility must be taken into account. “(Q.) It sounds very like it, you know? - (A.) No, not necessarily, my Lord. (Q.) You were both talking about what those icebergs would show to you? - (A.) As a natural precaution. We knew we were in the vicinity of ice, and though you cross the Atlantic for years and have ice reported and never see it, and at other times it is not reported and you do see it, you nevertheless do take necessary precautions, all you can, to make perfectly sure that the weather is clear and that the officers understand the indications of ice and all that sort of thing. That is a necessary precaution
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