On Her Course

Day One


On Her Course

Saturday morning, April 13th 1912 dawned bright and clear. Again calm seas assured Titanic’s passengers another smooth day of sailing. Refreshing moderate winds blew from the northwest providing another excellent day of outdoor activities.

The various dining routines in all three classes were set with breakfast at 7:30 followed by luncheon at 1 pm, afternoon tea was served at 4 pm in the First Class reception room adjacent to the dining room. Second Class held their afternoon tea in the lounge aft on B deck. The Third Class had no official afternoon tea but, passengers could request tea being served in the common room aft on C deck.

Captain Smith held another ship’s inspection with his officers and heads of departments. On the bridge at noon the ship’s position was ascertained and it revealed that Titanic had covered a very respectable 519 miles during the last 24 hours. She would register an even greater distance as the engines were broken in further and settled down.

It would not be unthinkable that Titanic could cover at least 600 miles in a 24-hour period when those extra boilers were brought on line. After the noon position was calculated, Captain Smith was informed by Chief Engineer Bell that the stubborn coal fire in the bunker of boiler room six had finally been extinguished. An inspection of the bulkheads in this bunker was underway to see if there was and buckling or weakening of the steel structure caused by the intense heat of the fire that burned for almost ten days.

Unknown to the engine room staff at this time, this bulkhead would prove to be very instrumental to the ship’s ultimate fate the following night! Titanic was now sailing at her best speed of over 21 knots or just under 25 land miles per hour.

In the wireless room, operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were busy sending the passengers messages to those ashore and on other ships. The passengers of all three classes could avail themselves of this new service in communication. The cost was very reasonable, too. Roughly 10 cents per word.

Interspersed with these communications both operators received various messages from other ships in their path, informing of weather and sea conditions and any ice that they had encountered. These messages were sent directly to the bridge for the Captain’s eyes. He would acknowledge them and pass the information to his junior officers.

The positions of the ice were noted on the charts and each officer was made aware of these massages. The wireless operators were making great headway with the volume of traffic when their equipment suddenly broke down in the early evening hours of Saturday.

Both operators worked tirelessly to restore the wireless operation. It was crucial to the safety of all on board Titanic that they maintain contact with the outside world. Meanwhile, the messages were piling up. The Chief Purser’s office on C deck was not aware that the equipment had ceased to function and they kept sending the hand written passenger traffic in the pneumatic tube system between their office and the wireless room on the boat deck.

Finally, in the early morning hours of Sunday, April 14th Phillips and Bride corrected and fixed the equipment. They were then faced with a huge volume of traffic both incoming and outgoing. There would be little rest for these two men over the next day as they tried to catch up. The incoming messages took precedence over any outgoing traffic.

Titanic was receiving additional reports of icebergs and heavy patches of ice from several east and westbound ships. Those reports directed to the Titanic’s call sign of MGY were dispatched to the bridge. Those reports that were relayed between other ships and not addressed directly to Titanic, were not relayed to the officers on the bridge. Eventfully they would be delivered, but with all this outgoing traffic that had accumulated while the wireless was down, they could wait awhile longer. After all, the operators were following written orders from the Marconi Corporation to dispatch passengers traffic first.

This was a revenue making operation. White Star Line had a binding contract with Marconi. They had an obligation to pass along any messages that pertained directly to the operation and safety of the ship, free of charge. But it was this passenger traffic that brought in the money for the Marconi Corporation. Both wireless operators were not even direct employees of the White Star Line but under the employ of Marconi.

Both Mr. Phillips and Mr. Bride had signed the ship’s articles that brought them under the command of the captain and his officers. Ultimately, they answered to Mr. Marconi alone.

Another sumptuous dinner was served in all three classes. Afterwards, those in First Class retired to the huge reception room adjacent to the dining room to relax amongst the potted palms and wicker furniture to listen to the ship’s small orchestra while they took their coffee and after diner drinks.

There was a grand piano located on the starboard side of this beautiful room. It was there that they performed each night. These musicians were also not employees of White Star Line but were under contract with the English musicians union of Liverpool. They also signed the ship’s articles but were housed in two, four-berth cabins in the Second Class accommodation on board. These eight men were professionals and had served many years on other vessels and ashore.

The First Class had the most service and at least five men would be performing in the lounges and reception room at any given time. The Second Class also shared the services of three or four of these musicians in their dining room and main lounge. Especially after dinner each night. Second Class had two upright pianos, one in the dining room and the other in the main lounge. The musicians set up next to these pianos for evening concerts.

There was no official music in the Third Class other than what the passengers could provide for themselves. Titanic provided an upright piano in the Third Class common room and it got a lot of use by those passengers who could play. Often other of the passengers would join in with their violins, harmonicas and concertinas. Even one gentleman provided excellent Irish music on his own set of bag pipes!

The sun set on another splendid day at sea. The seas were still calm with very little wave action. The winds died down and the only breeze was generated by Titanic herself as she stayed her course for New York. Three more days of this glorious life at sea awaited all on board her.

Life was, indeed, good!


Morning - April 10, 1912

11:45 A.M.: The Titanic blows horns and signals imminent departure.
12:05 P.M.: Lines are cast off and Titanic began her maiden voyage and sails for Cherbourg, France

April 10 - 5:30 pm

Arrives Cherbourg, picks up more passengers

April 10 - 8:30 pm

Picks up anchor and sails for Queenstown

April 11 - 11:30 pm

Arrives Queenstown, picks up more passengers

April 12 & 13

Travels though calm waters

April 14

Warnings of Icebergs Ahead

April 14 - 11:40 pm

Hits Iceberg

April 14 - 11:50 pm

Water had poured in and risen 14 feet in the front part of the ship

April 15, 1912 - 02:20 am.

Titanic fully submerged and sinking down to eternity

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