Titanic Lifeboat

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Bob Read, Aug 26, 2014.

  1. Bob Read
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    Bob Read Junior Member

    Hi All:
    I am a Titanic researcher. I have some knowledge of ship's boats but I have a question regarding two items in Titanic's 30 ft. main lifeboats. In the image below I have pointed to the two objects in question. These objects are oriented at 90 degrees to each other. They are located at both ends of the boat on opposite sides. Does anyone know what these objects are called and what their function is? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Regards,
    Bob Read[​IMG]
     
  2. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    I think they are for 1 of 3 things; easing the davit falls and tricing lines (but I believe that on TITANIC the falls were worked from the boat deck); setting up the mast rigging; or for the rudder or steering oar (Though in the picture below you can see the oarlock for the steering oar). I'll have a look in Knight's when I get home.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Bob Read
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    Bob Read Junior Member

    Hi
    Thanks for the reply. Two of your options can be safely ruled out. The davit falls were worked from the Boat Deck. There is a dedicated oarlock for the steering oar. I'm not sure if I made it clear but the photo I posted shows one pair of these objects on the starboard bow of the boat. There is a matching pair on the port stern of the same boat. Attached is a photo taken of a recovered boat from SS Nomadic which was a tender for Titanic. You can see the holes through these objects. The mast was stabilized by a metal mast hoop built into one of the thwarts and by two shrouds which were lashed to the gunwale through thole pin sockets. This would seem to leave rigging to the dipping lug sail as one of the possible candidates. There are some other possibilities but I was just wondering if anyone knew straightaway what these were.
    Regards,
    Bob Read[​IMG]
     
  4. SukiSolo
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    SukiSolo Senior Member

    It is possible that a warp acting as a sea anchor (or sea anchor) could be lead through the steering rowlock and through the vertical 'knee' with through hole.
    The purpose of the horizontal piece escapes me, unless a warp ran through both from the locker seen below the two components.

    Bear in mind the exact drag required would have to be tuned to the conditions at the time, which may be expected to be severe. This somewhat simple rope run may be one way of achieving that. Cheaper than turning blocks and the run is fixed so no blocks thrashing about on them. If there is a cleat or other device to make fast in the vicinity, perhaps this is a use?.
     
  5. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    Hatchet holder? Stick handle in hole and drop blade in slot.

    Edit. I just noticed that they are oriented differently in the two pics. Do you know if there is a bow - stern orientation, or just two different boats and maybe no significance.
     
  6. SukiSolo
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    SukiSolo Senior Member

    Is it possible that these pieces were for attaching a compass or even lights? Perhaps for the crew to 'clip on' or fasten themselves to?

    As for the sailing rig, see the Royal Navy 27' Montague Whaler, and 32' cutter, almost certainly these would have had a dipping lug setup. This type of rig does use a booming out spar but not usually anchored so far forward as the pieces shown. In practice I have found better performance sailing using the spar on every point of sail bar beating upwind.
     
  7. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    The only things mentioned in Kinght's Modern Seamanship (1912 ed) or Riesenberg's Standard Seamanship for the Merchant Service (1936 ed) is a mention of "lowering bitts" where the boat is held level during the loading and lowering by guy lines from the davits. Both ARE VERY SPECIFIC in that the painters (50 fathoms) are not lead to cleats, but are passed around the thwarts and held back. Additionally, they speak of using a steering oar vice rudder when coming alongside...which agrees with most of the TITANIC boat pictures. FWIW, Riesenberg has several pictures of the SS OLYMIPIC boat deck showing the lap strake boats, Welin quadrant davits, falls and blocks, man ropes, and stacked boats.
     
  8. Bob Read
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    Bob Read Junior Member

    Thanks guys for the replies. I wanted to give feedback to points raised in them.
    1. Although they were part of the lifeboat equipment, I have never seen any photo showing a hatchet stowed on these objects. They were likely stowed in the stern locker. The orientation of the objects in Titanic's lifeboats is that the vertical structure was toward the nearest boat end. It is different than the Nomadic lifeboat arrangement.

    2. The only spar for the dipping lug sail was a gaff at the head of the sail which was hoisted with the sail bent to it. The tack was reeved through a block attached to a tack hook on either side of the bow.

    3. The compass was held in place by chocks on the thwart foward of the most aft thwart. See photo below.

    4. There were boat bitts on deck next to the davits. See photo below. The boats carried both a steering oar for rough weather and a rudder with tiller for lighter conditions.

    Regards,
    Bob Read
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    Do you happen to have a copy of the lifeboat inspection procedure performed by the watch? This is just another shot in the dark, but I would guess it has something to do with being able to inspect some item of equipment on a routine basis. That would be one reason to position them catercorner. If removed prior to deployment, that would explain why they are all empty.
     
  10. Bob Read
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    Bob Read Junior Member

    Hi Phil:
    No, I don't have any inspection procedures. The first photo I posted in this thread is taken from a larger photo of the 13 Titanic lifeboats recovered by Carpathia. There is all kinds of equipment loose in the boat because these are boats which had just been used. None of them have anything stowed on these objects.
    Regards,
    Bob Read
     
  11. RHP
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    RHP Senior Member

  12. Bob Read
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    Bob Read Junior Member

    Hi RHP:
    Thanks for the lead. I'll give it a try.
    Regards,
    Bob Read
     
  13. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Bob, the lowering bitts mentioned (no illustration) in Knight's and Riesenberg where in the boat, not on deck controlling the falls. They were used to keep the boat upright and level athwartships while loading and lowering because the lifting eyes could be very low compared to the CG when loaded with people on the thwarts. They were handled by the boat crew and were lead from the guy between the davits where the man ropes hung. Additionally, both Knight and Riesenberg spend a lot of text on slipping the falls tackle hook and the many patent systems used. Several of those systems used a lanyard rigged between the two hooks with some type of release system to quickly free the hook.
     
  14. Bob Read
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    Bob Read Junior Member

    Hi jehardiman:
    It's too bad there isn't an image of a lowering bitt. I can't say I've see one.
    Titanic used the Murray's patent disengaging gear. A midship lever was thrown over to cause both bow and stern disengaging gear which had integral hooks attached to the falls to open and release simultaneously.
    Regards,
    Bob Read
     

  15. waikikin
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    waikikin Senior Member

    I'd vote for that, in that the holes had "steadying" lines run to them to form a three point bridle with the lifting gear, the longti peice was maybe additional support to the direction of pull to the lifting/lowering block.

    Jeff.
     
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