Sunday, April 15, 2012

How Did it Feel Aboard the Titanic - 100 Yrs Ago

The Titanic
HMS Titanic
As a child, I was fascinated to learn that a huge ship called the Titanic had sunk and cost 1503 people their lives. The idea of it sailing without enough lifeboats, and possibly with some of the people locked in the hold and not permitted to escape shocked me. I could not imagine how anyone could be so cruel to another person.

When research helped reveal the truth, that the ship's gates had indeed been locked, dooming poor passengers to their death, it haunted me. Less than 32% of the total passengers and crew survived. How many might have, if they'd been given a chance to fight for their lives? How did it feel, being behind locked bars, while the ship sank with no way to escape?

My father had been born a few days after the Titanic sank, the same year, so I had his birthdate as a reminder, but  I had been too moved by details of the tragic event to ever forget.

Now, one hundred years later, the media coverage is probably more intense than it was back then, when the disaster actually happened. So much attention has been focused on the event, that I think we tend to forget the human aspect of the sinking.

What was it like? One can barely imagine the terror of being in the midst of the sea and having your safety snatched away in the dark. Fill your tub with water as cold as you can make it, and dump in ice. The seas that night were home to icebergs. Climb into the tub, fully clothed, and see how long it takes before you begin to shiver. Then think about the fact that out there in the ocean, there is no bottom to touch -- if you want to live. You can't climb out when you're tired. You have to stay there, keeping yourself afloat on whatever you can find in the water. Sharks did not swim that far north - it was too cold for them. Most people died within minutes of entering the water, and most, but not all, sank to the bottom. Some floated in the sea, and were later pulled out and taken ashore for burial. One hundred-fifty were buried in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

As a result of this ship's sad tale, maritime law changed. Safety regulations sharpened, and the event made people swear to never let such a tragedy happen again. There have been sinkings since, and deaths, but Titanic still ranks among the top ten disasters at sea, in regards to lives lost.

For more on disasters at sea, you may want to read these articles:
 Was the Sinking of the Titanic the Worst Sea Disaster
 Worst Cruise Ship Disasters

image credit (HMS Titanic): public domain / Wikipedia


  1. Interesting thoughts on these peoples last moments, hours and their last thoughts.

    1. Thanks Lyssa. Ice in a bathtub can't come close, but perhaps we can relate to a cold bath or dip in a cold pool better than we can being in the freezing ocean. I have had a lifelong fear of water. I *can* swim, but I admit I'm still afraid of deep water.

  2. I think this is a part of history that will never be forgotten. The fascination with it just continues to build. It is so sad and such a terrifying experience.

    1. Savannah, perhaps because it is such a sad and terrifying experience, it is burned into our minds. I live near Atlanta GA, and there's a museum exhibit here of items from the Titanic. I am not sure I want to see them - but perhaps I will. I can't make up my mind. It's all so real to me, that I'm not sure I could handle it. Odd, to have such a connection to an incident so many years ago.

  3. More terrifying than drowning was the fact that some were probably trapped in air-pockets and would have died as a result of the massive pressure exerted on their bodies as the ship plunged to the ocean floor. I was watching a documentary the other day where this was mentioned - I'd never really thought beyond drowning, for the victims.

    I'm still fascinated by the whole story - I remember when the wreck was finally located. I'm glad we got to see images of it, but now I think it should be left alone, as a memorial to those who died.

    SueH I refuse to go quietly!

    1. What a horrible thought - being crushed by the pressure of the ship sinking. Another reason why I will probably never go on a cruise. Thank you for sharing. I think... ;o

    2. OMG, Sue, that's more horrifying than I ever imagined.

      Thanks for the thought-invoking post, Kayelle!

    3. Thanks, Brynn. Sue's comment was sobering, that's for sure. The more I learn about Titanic, the more tragic it becomes. I saw a documentary on how the ship was made and how it cost 8 people their lives even while being built.