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    Titanic steering/nav
    From: Paul Hirose
    Date: 1999 Aug 21, 2:50 PM

    Just bought the 1998 book, "Titanic & Her Sisters Olympic & Britannic"
    by McCluskie, Sharpe, and Marriott.  It doesn't clear up the matter of
    which way the ship's wheel worked:
    
    "...he ordered the helmsman, Quartermaster Robert Hitchens, to turn
    the wheel 'Hard-a-starboard'.  The order was obeyed promptly, Hitchens
    spinning the wheel as far as it would go, causing the ship to begin
    swinging to port (the apparent discrepancy between the helm order and
    the direction of the turn results from the system of orders in common
    use at that time which dated back to the days when ships were steered
    by a tiller, and pushing it to starboard resulted in a turn to port
    and vice versa (this system survived until the more logical current
    system was made standard in 1928)."
    
    On a navigational note, the book says Titanic was following a route
    the shipping companies had standardized in 1899.  It involved a great
    circle from Fastnet Rock (off Ireland) to 42 N 47 W, thence by great
    circle or "thumb line" (sic) to the Nantucket Light Vessel.
    
    Titanic's sister, Olympic, actually ran down the Nantucket lightship
    with fatal results in 1934.
    
    The famous Titanic coordinates, 4146 N 5014 W, were a DR position
    worked out by Fourth Officer Boxhall based on his 1930 "stellar
    observation".  The collision occurred at 2330, so there had been a
    4-hour run at 22.5 kts.  The coordinates were "a few vital miles" off.
    How much, I don't know, since I've never seen the actual coordinates
    of the wreck.
    
    Almost 50 years later, Boxhall would be technical advisor for the
    English film, "A Night to Remember".  I was pleased the book authors
    said that one is still probably the most "realistic and engaging" of
    the Titanic movies.
    

       
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