Remembering the Titanic
It was difficult to imagine tonight what must have been going through the minds of people on board the Titanic on that fateful night on April 14/15 exactly 100 years ago.
Sitting in my cabin at 11.40 pm tonight as Captain Robert Bamberg gave his address and announced the start of two minutes silence I visualised myself hearing the ship hit an iceberg and then experiencing the chaos that followed. I soon began to feel the horror of putting on my lifejacket, making my way through the corridor and pushing my way through crowds of people toward the lifeboats.
Yesterday the electricity failed for a just few seconds while I was in one of the ship’s lifts. That was long enough as I started to imagine being stuck in the lift while the ship was sinking. There’d be no way out.
It took a conscious effort to snap myself back to the present and focus on the purpose of the silence.
Passengers on board the Balmoral were divided into two groups for the first half of the memorial service starting at 1 am. One group met in a restaurant; the other in a lounge area.
As Debbie, Damian, Don and I made our way to the lounge, I again started imagining myself slipping below the surface of the freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and was thankful we were instead going to a memorial service.
There are 1305 passengers on board this ship, which is 198 less than the number of people who died in the Titanic disaster (1503).
As we slowly filed our way out of the lounge, I imagined myself in the same slow and tedious line, not peacefully walking towards the aft decks for the second half of the service, but desperately trying to get through the crowds to claim a seat in a lifeboat.
I wasn’t alone. Two men behind me were discussing what it would feel like to drown.
One said it would be “dreadful” to breathe in water; the other said it would only take one breathe of water to drown but said the sensation would be euphoric.
We all “breathed” fluid in our mothers’ wombs, after all, he said. I preferred not to think about it and tuned them out to focus instead on the fruit tea being provided in commemorative mugs by staff as we filed through the doors.
As one of the last passengers to reach the aft decks, it was difficult to find even just a few centimetres of space through which I could take some photos. Eventually, on the highest deck, a generous woman from Minnesota moved aside for a few moments to allow me some space. Her husband was also imagining how passengers of the Titanic were feeling.
“Just think,” he said. They would have been out here like this, the water about 20 degrees colder and once the Titanic’s lights went out it would have been pitch black (on a moonless night).”
The warm fruit tea I was still sipping from the mug was even more welcome, and I was again thankful I was on the Balmoral, rugged up in a warm jacket, scarf and gloves, and not experiencing the tragedy of 100 years ago tonight.
I am not a descendant or relative of the Titanic’s victims or survivors, just someone from the other side of the world who’s been touched by the stories of heroism, survival and tragedy … and grateful that maritime laws have changed dramatically that travel by sea is now so much safer.By Jocelyn Watts, North Atlantic Ocean, Saturday, April 15, 2012. Published as a travel blog and picked up by APN News and Media and published throughout the chain.
FEATURE PHOTO (Top): Aussies wave as the Balmoral cruise ship leaves Southampton, as the Titanic did 100 years before.