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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Calling the Boats Back

One thing I've investigated recently is the details of Captain Smith calling back the boats.  We have a deleted scene from Cameron’s 1997 film which showed Thomas Andrews and Chief Officer Wilde getting Captain Smith to call the boats and in particular, Boat No. 6 back through his megaphone and a similar scene made it into Cameron’s 2001 documentary, “Ghosts of the Abyss.”  With that in mind, I looked into the matter to see what the facts were. 

First, what or who prompted Captain Smith to call the boats back?  We don’t know the answer exactly, but I suspect it was 1st Officer Murdoch.  He told the crew in Boat No. 1 to row a little distance from the ship and then come back when called upon.  It is possible that he intended to fill the boats the rest of the way at the beginning from the gangways just like 2nd officer Lightoller did. 
When he called the boats back is unclear.  Lightoller said he heard Captain Smith call the boats back 2-3 times as he was lowering the port side boats. 

Eugene Daly said that Capt. Smith rushed to the rail and called out, “Bring those boats back, they are only half filled!"

Mrs. Lucien P. Smith (Boat 6) said, “In the meantime Capt. Smith was standing with a megaphone on deck. I approached him and told him I was alone, and asked if my husband might be allowed to go in the boat with me. He ignored me personally, but shouted again through his megaphone, "Women and children first." My husband said, "Never mind, captain, about that; I will see that she gets in the boat."

Major Arthur Peuchen testified about hearing the Capt. Smith's calls to come back at the American Inquiries.

No, it was dark. At daylight I was rowing very hard - in the morning - and I did not notice. As we rowed, pulled away from the Titanic, there was an officer's call of some kind. We stopped rowing.

Senator SMITH.
A whistle?

A sort of a whistle. Anyway, the quartermaster told us to stop rowing so he could hear it, and this was a call to come back to the boat. So we all thought we ought to go back to the boat. It was a call. But the quartermaster said, "No, we are not going back to the boat." He said, "It is our lives now, not theirs," and he insisted upon our rowing farther away.

Lightoller said he heard Captain Smith trying to call back the boats 2-3 times through  his megaphone while he was lowering the boats on the port side.  While he couldn't remember specific times, 
Lightoller thought he was trying to get them back to load them through the gangway doors.  Apparently since Murdoch also tried to load the boats through the gangway doors, he could have put Captain Smith up to it or Wilde as shown.  I don't know about Andrews since his whereabouts are unknown at that time.  Boxhall's lifeboat was lowered at about 1:45 and then made its way around to the starboard side in the hopes of getting a few more people through the gangway doors.  It appears that he used his megaphone in several minute intervals around the time Lightoller was loading and launching Boat No. 4 and possibly for the last time a little after that.

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