posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 09:28 PM
The ship sank in the middle of the night, as I recall. So even if you have a few clear-headed insomniacs, they'll start picking up the panic of those
around them, who were still dressed in nightclothes, terrified, and confused as to what had happened.
The ship was metal, and from what I recall, it would have been nearly impossible to dissemble it in bits without good tools, which were unavailable to
the passengers. Also, remember the ethics/morals of the time. Women and children were allowed onto the lifeboats first; men were actively prevented
But if you could stay clear-headed until the very last, when it was safe to jump from deck to water, and had assembled a make-do raft from furniture
and such, you would have a fairly good chance of surviving to swim to a lifeboat. True story: one of the crewmates -- the cook, I believe -- was drunk
that night, and simply stepped off the deck as it went down. He stayed in the water the longest of any survivor -- a little over an hour or so, I
Let's say that we have an insomniac man in the prime of life. He is mildly intoxicated this evening, and is sitting in the smoking room when he hears
a clanging/thumping noise from down below. Immediately, he assumes the worst, being an engineer.
Always calm, he retreats to a far corner of the smoking room and begins building his raft. He uses curtain ties and chairs to make it, and tests to be
sure he can lift it. He then locates some stronger rope and reinforces his weak curtain ties.
Assuming that the water has not reached him yet (or possibly that he is only exercising his skill), he continues working until the rush of feet in the
corridor slackens. Finally, he tests that his raft will hold his weight. He reinforces it as best he can, and, with no way to test its buoyancy, heads
for the corridor.
It's very late in the tragedy by now, as he hurries to the uppermost deck. There is no one in the corridor, and he resigns himself to possible
He comes onto the main deck of the ship. The ship's band is playing as the last lifeboat is let down.
Studying the water level, he strides as calmly as he can across the tilting deck to the edge. It's close enough for safety, he thinks, and, grasping
his raft, he jumps.
The water is almost freezing, even though it is salt water with a low freezing temperature. Luckily, his raft holds up, and, using it as a support for
himself, begins to paddle for the nearest lifeboat. He reaches it soon enough, numbed by cold and chilled by the screams of the drowning, and climbs
aboard. He will likely survive.
So, theoretically, one could survive the disaster with some previous knowledge and calmness. Realistically, I don't think so. Panic is infectious.
However, I'd still place my bets with the fictional insomniac engineer. Because he was awake and lucid, he would act more calmly. Because he is an
engineer, he has some knowledge of how he should build a raft. And because he is a man, he will not be forced onto a liferaft; he can remain aboard
until the water is close enough to step into.
So if the male passengers (the last aboard the ship, other than a few ladies who remained with their husbands) had worked together, they might have
been denounced as cowards (for trying to survive), but they likely would have gotten out alive.
(I apologize for the long post -- most of it's the analogy -- but I was a massive Titanic fan in my childhood, and picked up a lifelong love of the
subject. On that subject, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science has an exhibit on the Titanic -- very infomative.)