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I'm Brian Ray, host of On Tour podcast. My music career began as a teenager with Etta James, most recently with Paul McCartney for 19 years. My friends and I have spent most of our lives traveling the world and some of the biggest tours in history on this show. Nothing's off limits. We're sharing personal stories from our years on the road with the greatest music legends listened to on tour, on my radio app, Apple podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Welcome to Stuff You Should Know. A production of I Heart Radio. Ahoy and welcome to the podcast, I'm Josh, your captain, there's Chuck, your other captain and your third captain, Jerry. All of us equal captains here is out there hovering around silently, like the creepiest captain of all, even creepier than Captain Stubing. Oh, yeah. And that, of course, makes this stuff you should know.
I always loved it when Captain Stubing would have the rare love storyline. Yeah. If my own every now and then. Yes. So good.
He's usually just overseeing the love of others, you know. Exactly.
He was a father figure, so that's why it was off putting when he had his own love thing.
I would stop fighting for you.
Yeah, but he wants to see Captain Stubing, you know, go all the way, we should mention.
And I wish I knew her name, but for many, many years, one of our young listeners asked us to do Titanic at every turn. Oh, and I imagine that young girl is now a grown woman probably who doesn't listen anymore. But who knows? Who knows.
Also, Chuck, I think most recently was requested by our Scottish correspondent, NOAA.
Oh, don't you remember when he said hi last time? Sure.
I don't remember the Titanic part. But Noah, you know, I'm happy for Noah to take the place of this young girl who left us yesterday's news. Yeah. Which I can't prove. Used this up and just threw us away, Chuck.
Yeah, I think we resisted for so long because the movie is so linked to this event in the movie, despite its faults, did a really pretty accurate job of it. And I know that was important to James Cameron of kind of really telling the accurate story of exactly what happened. So we're like, why bother?
Yeah, there's actually from the filming of that movie, they may have settled at least one major mystery as to what happened when it sank the DC.
The know the what happened to the grand staircase, which they found when they finally discovered the Titanic later on in the 80s, was just totally missing. It was now like a seven story vertical, basically an elevator shaft, a huge hole, and none of the staircase remained. And when they filmed that movie, the Titanic, the grand staircase detached and started to float away. And James Cameron was like, I'll bet you that's exactly what happened to the real Titanic.
And I have a feeling that jewel this isn't even right. What was it called?
It had a name, Jim, of the there's so many angry people right now. The heart heard the gem of the on it.
I think it was the heart of the sea, the heart of the ocean. Something like that.
The jewel of the wind. Did you like the movie? Yeah, it was fine.
I remember Thomas Jefferson's Bible where he cut out all the magic mumbo jumbo in his head, like the morality of the whole thing. If you could go through and cut out like the love story of that movie, I would probably like it much more.
Well, I kind of disagree there because you got to frame it around something. Well, you got to frame it around some kind of a story of people.
Are you just saying you would have done another person's story?
Yeah. Why not just throw captain stooping in there and have him have the love story?
I thought the love story was good. I just think Jim Cameron is I think he can be a little ham fisted with his screenwriting sometimes. Yeah, for sure. And there was some stuff like that. I remember even at the time, like Billy Zane, you know, little pithy comments like, you know, that Picasso who's ever heard of him, that'll never be worth a thing like or something like that. I don't remember any time being like, come on, man.
Billy Zane does what he's told on the Zane. So, yeah, there is another one. I'd forgotten about this line, but somebody else was basically saying the same thing that you are about that movie or James Cameron. James Cameron's writing. Yeah, that when Leo was, you know, running with Kate Winslet through first class and there's band, the band is playing and he stops for a second, he goes music to drown to now I know I'm in first class boy.
So, yeah, the whole thing's just rife with that kind of stuff. But overall, I mean, just the fact that, like, they went to the extremes that they did to to to try to get it as accurate as possible and overlayed like a, you know, romantic love story on it like it was. I mean, was it was a good movie and a lot of ways and so many more ways than it was a bad movie that it's just overall a really good movie.
Yeah, I think the most brilliant decision in that movie was to have that beginning bit. Where? It's a little ham fisted, but the part where Bill Paxton and the Synod's go over exactly how it sank. Yeah, like I don't think a lot of people understood that. And understanding that, as you're watching the movie is pretty critical.
So I think that was pretty smart.
Yes, indeed. And one other thing about that movie will never mention it again for the rest of these two episodes, I'm sure. But it costs about almost exactly half adjusted for inflation to make the movie Titanic, as it did to make the Titanic.
Oh, wow. Isn't that crazy? Yeah. And we just did an episode of movie Crash, basically. There you go.
There was a mini crash, although Nate DiMeo, this was this was actually his beker buddy, Nate Titanic.
He did. That's awesome, man. That doesn't surprise me at all. All right. I mean, to me, he would love a movie like that, you know, like he's like really accurate historical fiction that would be up his his alley.
Yeah. OK, so we're talking, believe it or not, everybody. I don't know if you figured this out yet. We're talking about the Titanic finally at long last. And like we're saying, you know, we kind of put this off because the movie had just become so widespread that we basically to wait out its after effects. But I feel like we've kind of finally kind of reached that. Um, so it's like I've been interested in the Titanic since I was just a young kid.
Oh yeah. Yeah. When they found the Titanic in 1985, like I was at just the right age to to really get sucked into that. Yeah. And the I think the Titanic was probably the first thing that introduced me to like the just the fascinating creepiness of looking at things that aren't supposed to be underwater, but now where it's just perfect for that kind of thing. Yeah. And it's still really cool.
Like I was looking at pictures today of that stern sitting there underwater. And it's it's it's still just like there's something about it that you can't not look at it and just stare at it. I know.
And I'm like waiting for the day when things become when technology reaches the point where we can just explore every square inch of the Titanic on the bottom. I'm really looking forward to that. But it's so I knew a lot about the Titanic to begin with. But just researching this, it dawned on me like I mean, there's just so much I didn't know that I found in the time spent researching this. But it also dawned on me that there is just so much more like some people dedicate, like this is their hobby, like learning and talking and researching and reading and thinking about the Titanic.
Yeah. And, you know, this is this going to be a two part episode and we're going to do it. Stuff you should know style and probably about 90 minutes. But I'm quite sure there are podcasts out there fully dedicated to the Titanic where it's like, you know, and now episode 120, the cutlery where, you know, like like you're saying people are obsessed with it and they know all the details. We're going to, I'm sure, get some stuff kind of wrong because we're not experts, but we're going to give it the old stuff.
You should know treatment, you know. Yeah, for sure.
So, yeah. So as like I knew a lot about the Titanic. There's plenty of people out there who, like, dedicate themselves to it. But just learning about this, like it's just such a huge, monumental thing. A lot of people divide like the 19th century, the like the old era and the modern age upon the sinking of the Titanic, like this colossal thing it's become. But at the time, I mean, it was actually not that big of a deal, like it was the maiden voyage of the Titanic.
But its sister ship, the Olympic, had already sailed. And that was actually kind of a big thing. The Titanic wasn't even sold out when it underwent its voyage. Actually, in retrospect, that was a very good thing. But there's a lot to learn from the Titanic, just just researching it, even if you do feel like you already know basically everything about it.
Yeah, I mean, I learned a ton of stuff. Yeah. And I saw that movie a bunch.
So like I said, the Titanic had a sister ship, the Olympic, and it also had another sister ship which was originally dubbed the Jade Gigantic. But after the Titanic sank, they went back and renamed the gigantic the Britannic. Because I thought I think maybe they're they'd be like, well, we had enough hubris four to last a lifetime with the Titanic. But these three ships came out of a dinner, actually, between a guy named Bruce Ismay, who was the chairman of the White Star Line, which owned those three ships.
And another guy, what was his name?
Pirrie, Lord William Perry. And they're their wives. Florence, who was married to Bruce and Margaret. Montgomery, originally, Carlisle, and that, you know, that name will come back in just a second, so just put a pin in her.
So the this dinner was basically about how to compete with the Cunard lines. The Cunard people were eating white stars lunch to a degree, because they had just released the Mauritania and the Lusitania. And I think the Mauritania set the speed record. These things could make it across the Atlantic in five days, which was very, very fast at the time. And White Star couldn't keep up. So they decided from this dinner, what if instead of trying to make faster and faster ships, we just kind of go with our thing and make them bigger and more luxurious so people want to spend that extra day?
It took White Star six days to make it across. People want to spend that extra day because the ship is so ridiculously luxurious that they choose ours instead. And not only was this the birth of the Titanic in the Olympic and the Britannic, it was basically the birth of the cruise industry, as we understand it today, just basically making these huge floating luxury hotels that that kind of became born from this dinner as well.
Yeah. And so they said, you know, we want to make them about one and a half times the size of anything that Cunard is putting out there. And they started sketching around a little bit and they sketched up a couple of masts and four smokestacks. And I think by the time they got to the engineering phase, they said, by the way, we really only need three of these. And they said, no, we must have four.
We want it to look symmetrical and we'll figure out something to do with that. Fourth one, which they did became a ventilation system, which is pretty smart. And initially, Alexander Montgomery Carlisle was the head designer who was Margaret Lord William, his wife's brother. OK, so it was his brother in law that was the initial designer. And then that was eventually handed over to his nephew, Thomas Andrews. And he was the guy played by Victor Garber in the movie The Dude from Alias.
The dad from Alias, is it? Yeah. I mean, I never saw Alias, but I know that when you're on TV, that's what you're most famous for. Yeah.
In that weird. Yeah, except in our case, you're going against the grain. Yeah, for sure.
So so yeah. So Thomas Andrews would become the chief designer of the ship and he did an amazing job of it. But the ship itself, the Titanic, was something like eight hundred and eighty two feet long, which is a little longer than the Trans American pyramid in San Francisco is the building in San Francisco is tall.
Yeah. Imagine shipping that into the ocean. Yeah. And then you have like in the Titanic with slightly longer than that. It was also 92 feet wide and it had a gross weight of 45000 tons. It was just by far the biggest ship that had ever been built. And so, like the idea of bigness and indestructibility kind of was was part of the Titanic's whole jam, like from the outset.
Yeah. And there was one sort of fateful mistake. And, you know, Titanic is one of those things where a lot of people have in hindsight said, well, there was, of course, the iceberg, but there were also this in this in this that happened that could have led to, you know, its ultimate demise. And one of those things was the rivets on the Titanic. There were three million wrought iron rivets that apparently upon further examination contained about three times the amount of slag residue as was allowable.
And I think the result of that was when they're exposed to cold, they become more brittle. And so some people have posited that those you know, it was a well-built ship for the most part, but those rivets could have been weaker than they should have been when push came to shove. Yeah. And I mean, if you're rivets are the the weak link in the chain, that's trouble right there. Big trouble. But, yeah, not all of them are wrought iron, but enough of them were.
And I also saw that they were double riveted and they probably should have been triple riveted from what from what I saw in some engineering blog. You got a triple rivet. Exactly. Everybody knows that. Sure. So. So they also had two engines on board that were just enormous. Each one is about 330 feet tall. Yeah. And they were capable of producing 30000 horsepower, which is about the same energy produced by ten diesel locomotives, just these two engines.
And they could push the ship pretty fast, something like I think 22 knots was the top speed it hit. And like I said, the Mauritania had set the speed record at something like twenty three point nine, I think as far as the record goes, and it lasted until nineteen twenty nine. So the Titanic wasn't setting speed records or anything like that, but it was still going awfully fast, especially considering the size it was. But it was thanks to those huge engines and the enormous propellers that they outfitted the ship with too.
Oh man. Those like if you're at home and you can access photographs safely, I strongly encourage you to look up some of these pictures. Just the pictures of the propellers are amazing. There are two, three blade propellers that were about twenty three and a half feet in diameter and then one four blade propeller that was about 17 feet in diameter. And just seeing a photograph of these things is unbelievable to behold, like how big these things are.
Yeah, again, just bigness. It was just a common theme. You know, one of the other things that the Titanic had that was pretty innovative was that so underwater in the hole? What would be beneath the the sea surface as far as the boat was concerned, were 16 bulkhead compartments that had all sorts of things, like one held the coal or I think multiple one tell all the coal that the Titanic consumed something like 600 tonnes a day to get that thing to move.
And then there were just all sorts of other just just like rooms that were beneath sea level. And each of these rooms had an automatic door that would shut it off and seal it. They were watertight. So if any of these compartments caught water, started taking on water, it could fill up. And as long as that door was shut, the Titanic would just be able to keep on keeping on, basically. So that was a real a real innovation.
That combined with its bigness and just the amount of steel that was put into it combined to kind of create this idea that the Titanic was unsinkable. That's where that comes from, largely from those compartments.
Yeah, I think they said two of the four could flood and they said really up to four of these could flood. Right. But no more than four. Yeah. Put a put a pin in that one.
And on that coal. There were 29 steam boilers, and if you're thinking like how much coal, you said 600 pounds or sorry, 600 tonnes a day a day, that was one hundred and sixty two furnaces of two hundred men shoveling coal basically nonstop.
Yeah, there was actually a fire aboard the Titanic, like the Titanic was on fire when it was taking on passengers. Right. And it was because those those coal deposits, one of them had caught fire. And when you have coal that's on fire in that situation, basically the only way to put it out is to use that coal that's on fire. So not only were they, you know, shoveling like under routine conditions, they were shoveling even more coal than normal to keep the fire from spreading.
Yeah, and that's another one of those things that people have. Now, some people, experts have gone back and said the fire could have started up to three weeks before they even set sail and it could have weakened some of those holds. They found evidence of like some some burn marks and stuff like that. Yeah. Where they said it could have weakened some of that metal. And, you know, it sounds very strange to have a fire going for three weeks and say, here we go, everybody.
Right, exactly. But that was the deal. Plus, it also just gets across how enormous Titanic was that it could have a fire and just be like, whatever. It's all good work work for the Titanic. But, yeah, they they discovered a picture that shows some sort of like kind of stripe across the whole of the ship that is about where the iceberg hit it. And they said that's from that that coal fire, we think, which is surprising still after all this time.
I think that's another reason why the Titanic story is so engrossing, is there's there's just so much still that people are learning about it, even one hundred and nine years on.
Oh, totally. You also have to remember when you build something this big, you also have to build the things that help you build this thing because they didn't exist. Yeah. So they had to get a boat slip that could accommodate it. So they built the this enormous white star dock and then something called the Great Gantry, which was it sort of looks like a big sort of like a skeleton of a big airplane hangar. You should look at these pictures to.
It's pretty remarkable, but it was a series of 10 cranes basically that held this boat in place while it was being built to lift the people up to work on it, lift materials up to wherever they needed to go. And it's actually something to behold in itself, like seeing the Titanic suspended like above the ground like that. Yeah.
And it took 11000 people to build this ship, 11000 people. And they built it. They they built the actual ship itself and was launched into the water, I think, although it was basically always in the water because it was basically impossible. Dry dock.
Well, not when it was in the hangar. It was sitting up there.
OK, you're sorry, but there was actually launched into the water then on May 31st, 1911. But it didn't have any interior. It didn't have its engines yet. It was fully completed March 31st, 1912, and it began its maiden voyage and started taking on passengers on April 10th, 1912. And I proposed, Chuck, that before we take on passengers, we take a break.
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All right, so one thing I didn't realize about the Titanic was it had three little stops before it left the UK for New York. It started out in Southampton in England, moved on to Cherbourg, France, and then went on to Queenstown, Ireland before leaving for New York. Did you know that? I didn't know that that would be right. It wasn't so the Titanic cost about 400 million dollars in twenty nineteen dollars to make, which that's that's actually less than Carnival Cruise Line Splendor, which was launched in 2008 for like four hundred and fifty fifty million.
So it's actually for for as luxurious as it was, it was a pretty, pretty good bargain, tell you the truth.
Yeah. And here's my deal with cruises. I think we've talked about cruise ships before. I'm not a fan. I've been on exactly one cruise and just not a fan. And a lot of it has to do with the decor, like shopping mall carpet and bowling alley carpet and, you know, gold railings and things like that, but not like cool looking.
I think if they took a note from and maybe they are building cruise ships like this now, but if they took a note from the Titanic and other ships of the day today and had that really nice wicker furniture and some, you know, if not iron, some stuff painted to look like iron and not so much of that shiny gold shopping mall garbage look, I think I would be more into it, a little more classy, refined thing.
And I think they could go a long way toward getting people like me on cruise ships.
There's some that are like that, like kind of some throwback ones. Are there? I'm pretty sure. Yeah. Braggarts. You mean that whole you know, all you had to say was shopping mall. You kind of nailed it right there.
Like when you look at the Titanic, it looks like something that Kellogg brothers would have been keen on.
Well, it's funny you say that because we mentioned this in the Kellogg Brothers episode, but they had equipment on board the Titanic and 3M and the gym happened to be located on the boat deck, which was the same place where the captain's bridge was FOIA, in case they talked about the various decks.
Yeah, I think we should there are a number of them actually in the they lettered them by letter, appropriately enough.
That's right. So there's that boat deck, like he said, where the bridge, the Jim. And I think just sort of that nice, lovely pine open deck is you had the promenade deck, which is the first stacked deck A and that had those two first class staircases that you were talking about, had a lounge, had a reading and writing room, had the all male first class smoking room.
Like an all male places. Sure. They had the he men women haters club.
There was the Veranda Cafe and Palm Court, which is really lovely. If you go look at pictures of this as well. Yeah.
That's, that's up my alley as well.
Yeah. The Palm Court. It's nice, right. Yeah. I knew you'd love it because I was like look at all that wicker furniture. Chuck's going to go crazy for this.
They would never allow that in a mall.
What's on deck B deck before and I thought you'd never ask, included the first class cabins and suites, the restaurant, Cafe Parisienne, which was all male, second class smoking room, third class poop deck, which is where the third class people kind of strolled around like gerbils. And then they also kept some of the larger cargo equipment on the poop deck for the third class people, that uses obstacles maybe to climb over and stay fit. Yeah, they tried to hide most of that stuff.
Yeah. Yeah. Great care in making sure that it looked just like a luxury kind of hotel and not, you know, and that's one of the reasons why they didn't have as many lifeboats. But, you know, we'll get to that.
So, yeah, that was something that I also didn't know about the Titanic, is that the the designers and builders really went to great lengths to make it as luxurious as possible for everybody from first class to third class, which is also called steerage. You know, just over the years, it's been it's it's been made into such a class conflict, social stratification fable. Well, kind of was.
It definitely was. But really, it just kind of followed the conventions of the day. But because of the conventions of the day, a lot of people died who otherwise might not have, which we'll talk about. Believe me, it's really people have kind of glommed on to that and especially one hundred years later, it just seems so bizarre and awful to us. But at the time, I mean, this is just the way things were. But because of that, you know, that whole idea that was like, you know, there's third class and there's first class that that you just kind of missed the point that that they like even in third class, this was incredible luxury compared to what they were used to for passages like this.
And it was because the designers purposefully made it that way.
Yeah. I mean, they were mostly immigrant. Coming to America for the first time. And like you said, it was appropriate luxury for third class, like it wasn't like the rooms weren't these big open rooms with like 30 bunk beds and no door. They were private rooms. They had doors on their rooms. I think they were whether six people per room down there.
I saw four. I also saw six. OK, not too bad, though. They had little wash basins in each room, which was a really big deal and a big luxury, although I do think they had only two bathtubs for third class to share. Yeah. Among the 700 plus people, one for men and one for women. And I saw that explained away as third class passengers probably thought that you could develop respiratory illness by bathing too much.
So they probably wouldn't have had much of an issue with that. It doesn't seem as bad as it it does to us in retrospect.
Yeah, I don't think I would have taken a bath. I would have just been it's like I wouldn't take a poop on a bus trip.
I'm with you, man. I hope I just never, ever go to jail for any extended period of time because I would have a big problem with the pooping thing.
You mean when it's just a little silver silver thing in the corner with all the other people in the.
Yes. I mean, like. Yes, yeah. I think that's a big problem. That would be a problem for me. I think that would be a problem for anybody. I feel bad. Like I really feel that's a terrible aspect. I think of jail life. But yes. Yes, that's exactly right.
All right. So where were we? Well, ironically, we were on the poop deck deck. See, was the shelter deck. I don't think we said Deck B was the bridge deck. But Deck sees the shelter deck purser's office, their third class smoking room, second class library and lounge. You know, everything is very divided by class. Everyone needs their smoking rooms because everybody smoked, right? Yeah, for sure. Saloon deck deck D.
What are you getting there?
First class reception room and the dining saloon. Like they had like when you showed up for dinner, you would probably sit in the reception room and maybe like have a drink while you're waiting to be seated. If you showed up a little early, that's just from what I saw. Agreed. From what I saw, the dining saloon, the actual dining room was large enough to seat all of the first class passengers at once. Oh, wow. And I think the second class one was just enormous.
Second class, like is almost never talked about. When you just generally talk about the Titanic, it's always first or third. But there's a huge second class, a huge space for second class.
I think it's set a couple thousand people at once. Third class, I think was enough to serve the the third class passengers over three sittings, I believe, maybe even more than that, maybe four.
All right, that's a lot. It is still a lot, but yeah, for first class, you probably had just one sitting.
And I think when you mentioned that could be that restaurant was in our cart restaurant. So sort of like modern cruise ships. There's the big dining room. All right. But then there's also the pizza place and the this and the that. And I think the little Alucard restaurant was one of those.
It's like the mall food court, except probably not as good deck was the second and third class cabins.
It's called the upper deck and then the middle deck deck F.. This is a little confusing. Was the third class saloon, the Turkish bath, which they not too long ago got some really good photos of lurking there at the bottom of the Atlantic. It's amazing. But the Turkish bath was kind of like what you call the spa aboard a ship today.
Yeah, maybe some of the well, actually, I guess the Kellock stuff was in the gym.
Yeah, I believe it was all in the gym because it was like the shaky band and oh, I can't remember what else the I think the thing where they would loosen up the poop with the suntan, but I can't remember exactly. But there were definitely multiple pieces of Kellogg equipment and there was in the gym. Yeah.
So then you have the lower deck, the Allsopp deck. That's where they get to play squash if you want to do. They had a post office. There was a lot of you know, people love to send posts when they're on an ocean voyage.
I know, but I was thinking about that. You just show up at the post office and they're like, OK, thanks, I will mail it when when we get to the same place at the exact same time as you. Yeah, it's it seems so dumb, but I think it's being postmarked by the Titanic, which is you know what.
OK, gotcha. You're like, uh, there's someone at the post office is literally turns everyone away when she's hanging onto that and mail it when we get there. Right. Well, yeah, you're probably better off just dropping it somewhere in New York. You're fine.
There's the carpentry shop, the plumbing shop, electrical workshops. You got to have all that stuff. They had these enormous refrigerated rooms that were cooled by these copper pipes, just like miles and miles of copper pipes in each area like you. Could you do a whole episode on just the refrigeration of the Titanic and the cheeses and the flowers and the wines in the foods that they had to keep chilled. And they have sense they did it after the cutlery episode.
Probably so. And so they we talked about how luxurious it was, like it was just as luxurious as anything was in the world at the time. The Titanic with. But there was also kind of like a airy kind of vibe to the whole thing, like the choices in colors and wallpapers and plants and all that. And the wicker furniture was all just kind of light and airy and cheery. So it had a really nice feel to it from first to third across the board.
Yeah, like steerage wasn't just a rat infested gross place to be.
That's how it's always portrayed. You know, like basically a floating tenement is is how I've always seen it portrayed.
And I think that's kind of how James Cameron did portrayed it to, which is, I guess, where I got my impression like you.
I mean, the only thing I remember, I think they maybe showed them and their Leo and his Fabrizio and they're like, no, Fabrizio.
Yeah. And they're little and they're a little room. And then, of course, there was the the Irish jig that they danced right down there when she decided to, you know, slum it with steerage. Right. And that did look a little like it, like a you know, an old pub and it's a brand new boat.
Right. That's what I'm saying. Yeah. So I think I said earlier that the Titanic wasn't full when she set sail. Again, this is her maiden voyage, which accounts for YJ Bruces made the chairman of the White Star Line, whose father was the founder, I believe, and why Thomas Andrews, the designer of the Titanic and Olympic and Britannic, were both aboard. It was just custom for the the those people who are in those positions to be aboard a ship for its maiden voyage.
But there wasn't it wasn't sold out. There was room for something like thirty two hundred and ninety five people total.
Yeah, there was only twenty two hundred and twenty nine people. So there was like more room for more than a thousand passengers basically because the the crew was virtually full, like the room for the crew was virtually full, but it was the passengers that had, you know, booked as much as it was expected to take another break. Oh boy. Yeah. All right.
Let's take another break and we'll talk about a couple of more things here to round out part one of the Titanic right after this. Stuff you should know is brought to you by progressive insurance, saving money on your car insurance is easy with progressive. It's an average savings of over 750. Fifty dollars for customers who switch and save. In fact, customers can qualify for an average of six discounts on their auto policy when they sign up.
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All right, so this thing, I guess, where we're where it set sail. Right. I believe so, basically, yeah, at least from being launched in Belfast, right? Yeah. So it started out in Belfast, went to Southampton on April 3rd, and then on the 10th it went and picked up a few people in Southampton and then went to France and then to Queenstown, Ireland to get some more people. Like I said, I never knew like you that this is what it was doing, operating basically like an Uber share.
Yeah, I guess so. You ever done that by accident? No, I never have. I'm very, very careful.
I did once. And someone they stopped and I was like, what's going on? Someone got in. I was like, really? What's going on?
Is this candid camera? I made a new friend. Oh, that's nice. I thought it was in the cash cab.
I don't think he stops to pick up other people. He just has a lot of questions. Yeah, that's true. All right. So it's picked up all the folks at this point in the end. And there is some discrepancy about the final numbers because a lot of people sold their tickets, a lot of people switched tickets. A lot of people can't quite make it on time. In the case of Leonardo DiCaprio, he he wins those tickets in a poker game right before it launches.
No way they could have accounted for him.
No. And actually, I mean, that's not exactly that far off. And I suspect it's based loosely on the story of Thomas Hart, who is hired on as a fireman, but went off and got really, really drunk and lost his boarding papers while he was drunk and they were stolen by somebody else because Thomas Hart showed up and worked as far as anybody, anyone was concerned as far as the logs went. But it just clearly wasn't that Thomas Hart.
Right. He just missed it like that. There was one one group of wealthy industrialists, starting with Henry Clay Frick on to JP Morgan and then Jay Horace Harding, who transferred boarding papers for Suites B, 52, 54 and 56, which ultimately were taken on by J. Bruce Ismay. It just turns out all of them had a reason why they suddenly couldn't go toward the last minute.
Yeah, I think the unsinkable Barney Brown's daughter, she was you know, Molly Brown was portrayed by Kathy Bates. She was the hero of Lifeboat six that really wanted to go and try and save people. I think her daughter was supposed to come, but she was studying at the Sorbonne, so she did not. So there's a big list of people. They called it the Just Mistick Club. Yeah. And apparently in 1912, the Milwaukee Journal put that number as high as 6000 people that were saved because they did not sail on the Titanic.
Obviously couldn't have been that much. It's one of those things, I think, where, like everyone was it, you know, the game where Michael Jordan scored whatever points. Right. All right. You know, it's one of those sort of things where history fudges itself a little bit. But in the end, they put the number somewhere around thirteen hundred and twenty four passengers and those eight hundred and eighty four officers, which is a very high ratio of of crew members to passengers.
Yeah, it really is there. It's speaking of crew, in addition to Thomas Hart, there were the Slade brothers who left Southampton after passing muster and got drunk and then came back and they wouldn't lower the gangplank for them again. So they got left behind. Good for them. But most of all, there is a guy named Davy Blair who is an up and coming officer for the White Star Line, and he was initially assigned the second officer position, which is huge in the coming guy.
He he was at the last minute, I think he sailed from Southampton to Cherbourg and then at Cherbourg, basically, as somebody who was a more senior officer than him, was was given that position and he was moved off to the Olympic and he was really disappointed about this. There's like a surviving postcard that that expresses how upset he was and saddened that he kind of lost that big opportunity. But even more important than that is Davey Blair was on there long enough to be entrusted with the key to the Crows Nest locker, which held the binoculars for the regular locker.
The binocular locker. That's great.
Yeah. I mean, I think there's kind of long been a myth that there were not binoculars on board, but there were.
But yeah, he walked with that key and that key and that postcard sold at auction for like one hundred and fifty grand or something, didn't it.
So as I know, yeah, it's amazing. But that's a big deal because later on they would say that had they had binoculars in the crow's nest, they most definitely would have sighted that icebergs in time to manoeuvre away from them, that the lookouts said that later on in an enquiry.
Yeah. And of course, people debated that as well. It's. Hindsight is 20/20, but it certainly wouldn't have hurt. Yeah, you know, no, definitely wouldn't have. So I mentioned some wealthy industrialists that was mostly first class passengers were all extraordinarily well above average wealthy people, like even for wealthy people, they were above average wealthy. And that was reflected in the ticket prices that some of them paid for passage on the Titanic. Dude.
Yeah. Big money in today's dollars, anywhere from 66 grand to one hundred and twenty grand for passage.
Yeah, I don't think that fully gets that across because you're like, OK, I can see a billionaire selling something like that out. You know, it's gaudy and gross. But what really drove it home to me was at the time, so they were paying up to 4500 dollars in their dollars and at the time the average American made eight hundred dollars a year.
Wow. And these guys shelled out forty five hundred for a one way ticket. This was not a round trip. This is one way from the UK to America. That's great. Thirty five hundred bucks.
And that Nutt's third class steerage, I think even cost close to a thousand dollars in today's dollars, which is a lot of money, I mean thirty five bucks back then. But that that's not cheap.
No, but it was definitely a lot more affordable than one hundred nineteen thousand dollars. That's right.
So I guess we should talk a little bit before we wrap up about kind of the controversy over the size of the ship. As we said at the beginning, they wanted it to be the biggest in the best, all three of those sister ships just to be the biggest thing ever to really rub it in the Cunard lines face. And that presented some problems, though, one of which was the Board of Trade did know how many lifeboats or at least hadn't acted on it and said how many lifeboats you should have, because in the 1894 Merchant Shipping Act, they topped out at ten thousand tons and said, you need 16 lifeboats if you're ten thousand tons.
Titanic was thirty five thousand tons and they had 16 lifeboats because that's just where the Merchant Shipping Act ended. And they didn't like the, you know, the unsightly ness of them. So they weren't going to add any. It does not mean because it was three times the size they needed. Forty eight lifeboats. I think in retrospect they said twenty six would have done it. But as we'll get to, you know, the whole accident, the speed at which it sank, it may not have mattered anyway, but that was one of the big problems with its size.
That was a very big problem. Yeah. Not adding enough lifeboats because they seemed unsightly is not a good move. Another one is that the Titanic only had like six or seven hours of testing before it sailed, and that was mostly just to check its maneuverability. It was never sailed at full speed before it set sail for America. So the testing wasn't very good. And then even even more important, as far as lifeboats go, they never fully did like a full drill to lower all the lifeboats aboard.
And one of the reasons why people died was not just because there weren't that many lifeboats. There was a huge, huge issue, but also because there just wasn't a lot of needed protocol in launching the lifeboats. As far as the crew was concerned, a lot of them had had just had come aboard basically the day before. They were they were taking on passengers and didn't even have a poster position while they were passengers on that first day.
Yeah, I mean, that's a it was basically an H.R. nightmare with people showing up as the passengers are showing up, going, where do I go? What do you want me to do? They're like, have you ever waited tables? Have you ever shoveled goal? Right. And they were just kind of sticking people where they needed them. And like you said, I think they only were able to lower two of those sixteen lifeboats. And in the end, what that also means is you don't know how long it's going to take to lower them all.
So it was just they were kind of just flying or sailing blind.
Right, exactly. So those were just really, really big problems that would turn out to be extremely important when the ship started going down. Because any one of those things being slightly different or improved or not being a problem means that people's lives definitely would have been saved. You can debate like how many people would have been saved. But, yeah, there were there was definitely room for more people to have survived the Titanic than did. Yeah.
There was also a weird incident that happened on April 10th that possibly altered history. The Titanic was being pulled out by tugboats.
And it I think as the story goes, the captain kind of a little too early said go ahead. Lisa, some will just fire this baby up, he's really itching to get those propellers spinning and he said and give me a toot toot while you're at it. And when he started turning those propellers, it was a big violent suction and it sucked this other steamer, the SS New York, into its wake. It was attached to the Oceanic and it started pulling this boat over to it.
I think it snapped away from the Oceanic. It kind of ripped off the moorings. And if it weren't for quick action by tugboats reattaching, pulling the New York away and then the captain realizing what was going on and hitting the engine hard and turning out of the way like it shows pictures that they missed hitting each other by just a few feet. That's crazy. And not only would that, if it had actually hit it, that would have caused a delay.
That could have altered history. But there was a slight delay anyway just because of this incident. Oh, wow. That you know, who knows if those, you know, events would have lined up with that iceberg in there at the exact moment it needed to be.
Yeah, that's an amazing point, Chuck. I hadn't seen that one. So they they leave Queenstown, Ireland on April 11th, 1912, I believe, right? Yes. And start heading out to see full speed ahead. And we will stop here. What do you think, boy? What a cliffhanger. What's going to happen?
I don't know. We'll find out in the next episode of Stuff You Should Know. Stuff you should know is a production of I Heart Radio for more podcasts, my heart radio visit that I heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.
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