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Author Topic: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.  (Read 51138 times)

Heath Smith

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Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« on: May 06, 2012, 08:35:52 AM »

I watched the Finding Amelia documentary where Ric discusses the Seven Site and one thing that stuck in my mind was the finding of many fire features. Ric made the comment that there were either many more campers / survivors there or the castaways  were there for a much longer period of time.

Recently I was reading over the testimonies of the survivors of the Norwich City. They described how they managed to survive being washed ashore and how they survived over the next 4 days or so. There are many interesting stories about the survival and if you have not read them I would highly recommend it. There are stories about existing structures probably from the 19th century to how they had gathered up fresh water to last for months. They also stated that with the abundance of crab and bird there was no possibility of starvation.

One interesting point the story was how they decided to move to the other side of the island (the lee side) passing through the lagoon using a boat. I believe specifically they mentioned being at the South-East corner of the island.

Once there it appears that they camped out for at least of couple of days. With the help of the natives who came ashore they hunted down the large coconut crabs and birds and made fires. They are specific stories how the natives started the fires using sticks and how they through the crabs on to the fires to cook them. Interesting stuff.

So my question is has TIGHAR considered the possibility that the fire features from the Seven Site are really the artifacts created by the Norwich City survivors? If not why?

Thanks.
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2012, 09:43:21 AM »

The NC survivors didn't make it to the SE end of the island.  They started up on the section near the shipwreck, Nutiran, and only moved S to find a better spot where the rescue could be affected.  What they crossed was not the whole lagoon, but the Tatiman passage into the lagoon to get to the shore on the S side of that inlet, approximately a mile and a half south of the NC wreck.  The 7 site is still some 2 miles away, and I don't see any reason why they would have taken the long way around to get there, either by boat or walking, it would have been a senseless waste of effort.

For some reason, Nikumaroro seems to confuse people as to the cardinal directions, N, E, W, & S.  It seems that the southeast corner has been historically interpreted many ways.

see the narrative of the rescue on the Ameliapedia, found here http://tighar.org/wiki/Norwich_City

specifically the graphic found here http://tighar.org/wiki/File:Norwich_City_Rescue.jpg

Andrew
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Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2012, 09:54:43 AM »

Andrew,

Thank you for the links. Yes, this seems a bit confusing. Here is a snippet from the Norwich City Survivors' Shelter page.

What was the “lee” of the island as referred to by the Norwich City crew?

Second Officer Lott’s statement: “They told us that it was impossible to go through that surf again so we went to the lee side.” [9] The prevailing wind on Gardner Island was from the northeast with the southwest side of the island generally referred to as the “lee” side. But during the storm, conditions for Norwich City survivors were reversed. With the wind blowing from the west or northwest, the lee side became the east or southeast of the island . “Lee side”, in nautical parlance means the side sheltered from the wind, or “down wind”. Therefore a location on the island’s south or southeast side would provide better shelter from the wind and seas, and a better chance of improved surf conditions.


...

What was meant by “across the lagoon”?

Captain Swindell stated, “When we rounded the south East corner of the Island, I observed the native crew taking the survivors across the lagoon towards the South East.” [10] Captain Swindell’s statement makes it clear that crossing the lagoon did not mean going across to Aukairame (north), but traversing its length, possibly portaging through Bauareke passage to reach the reef.

...
What was meant by the” southeast corner” of the island as referred to by the rescuers?

From Captain Hamer’s testimony: “The two vessels now cruised along the reef in search of a suitable place, the surf near the wreck being far too dangerous. A place was found about 1½ miles south of the wreck, the breakers being not quite so bad.” [11] Captain Swindell, Master of the Trongate gave similar testimony: “It was a physical impossibility to get the whale boat back to the TRONGATE at that spot, so I steamed along the reef to try to find a better landing. The Motor Ship LINCOLN ELLSWORTH which had arrived to render assistance followed the TRONGATE. When we rounded the south East corner of the Island, I observed the native crew taking the survivors across the lagoon towards the South East.” [12] When Trongate stopped about 1½ miles south of the wreck, she actually was near the southwest corner of the island, not the southeast; however, they cruised to the southeast to reach this corner, so it may be a matter of semantics. Nevertheless it was the “lee” of the island at the time.

...
Is this just a mistake on the page?

Thanks.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2012, 10:00:51 AM by Heath Smith »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2012, 09:58:16 AM »

One interesting point the story was how they decided to move to the other side of the island (the lee side) passing through the lagoon using a boat. I believe specifically they mentioned being at the South-East corner of the island.


The Seven Site is on the windward side of the island, not the lee side.

There are different ways of visualizing the quadrants of the island

Quote
Once there it appears that they camped out for at least of couple of days. With the help of the natives who came ashore they hunted down the large coconut crabs and birds and made fires. They are specific stories how the natives started the fires using sticks and how they through the crabs on to the fires to cook them. Interesting stuff.

So my question is has TIGHAR considered the possibility that the fire features from the Seven Site are really the artifacts created by the Norwich City survivors? If not why?

No, because the proper understanding of the crew's movements keeps them far away from the Seven Site.
LTM,

           Marty
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Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2012, 10:07:00 AM »

I see what you are saying. Certainly the 1.5 miles makes sense for that area.

I guess what is throwing me off is the statement "When we rounded the south East corner of the Island".

This is rather specific where the "lee" side is subjective based on the winds at the time.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2012, 01:04:18 PM by Heath Smith »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2012, 02:36:52 PM »

I guess what is throwing me off is the statement "When we rounded the south East corner of the Island".

This is rather specific where the "lee" side is subjective based on the winds at the time.

Rick Jones noted the ambiguity: "Again, the Lincoln Ellsworth launched its motor boat, and the Trongate launched a lifeboat.  (It is not clear whether the ships 'circled the island' and rounded the southeastern corner as stated in a dispatch by Captain Tichendorf[6] of the  Lincoln Ellsworth, or if the ships proceeded directly down the shoreline to the new location, rounding the 'southeast corner' of the island—meaning the turn of the shoreline on the southwest face of the island.)  Either way, they ended up about a mile and a half south of the wreck."
 
What more do you want?  You're not going to get the survivor's camp over to the Seven Site by re-interpreting "the south east corner."  You seem to think that there can be one and only one meaning to "the southeastern corner," when, in fact, it has proven notoriously difficult in many documents to see what people mean by it, given other constraints on their remarks.

LTM,

           Marty
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Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2012, 04:35:20 PM »

Quote
What more do you want?  You're not going to get the survivor's camp over to the Seven Site by re-interpreting "the south east corner."

I am just pointing out obvious ambiguities and contradictions in the NC survivor stories compared with pages on the TIGHAR website.

Here is another snipped from the Norwich City Survivors' Shelter page.

What was the “lee” of the island as referred to by the Norwich City crew?

Second Officer Lott’s statement: “They told us that it was impossible to go through that surf again so we went to the lee side.” [9] The prevailing wind on Gardner Island was from the northeast with the southwest side of the island generally referred to as the “lee” side. But during the storm, conditions for Norwich City survivors were reversed. With the wind blowing from the west or northwest, the lee side became the east or southeast of the island. “Lee side”, in nautical parlance means the side sheltered from the wind, or “down wind”. Therefore a location on the island’s south or southeast side would provide better shelter from the wind and seas, and a better chance of improved surf conditions.


As far as I understand the term "Lee-side" this not associated with the prevailing winds but rather the winds at that moment in time. According to the above, the "Lee side" was the South-East corner of the island as the winds were from the North-West.

These statements seem to be completely contradictory to other statements that place this area 1.5 miles South of the NC wreck on the South-West side of the island.

Perhaps the NC shelter page needs a bit of cleaning up to match the current thinking.

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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2012, 05:16:48 PM »

As far as I understand the term "Lee-side" this not associated with the prevailing winds but rather the winds at that moment in time. According to the above, the "Lee side" was the South-East corner of the island as the winds were from the North-West.

You are treating vague terms as if they were precise.

You are splitting the island into two halves, when the actual lie of the land is more complex.

All "lee" means is "an area protected from the wind."  The folks stranded on the island didn't have maps of it.  They worked their way down the coast into a spot that was protected from the wind, and seem to have called it "THE" lee side of the island.

Quote
These statements seem to be completely contradictory to other statements that place this area 1.5 miles South of the NC wreck on the South-West side of the island.

Only because of your rigid interpretation of "lee side." 

The captains on the ships that rescued the men gave us the 1.5 miles figure.  There is no way to get the Seven Site 1.5 miles from the Norwich City.  This means that you have to give up on your rigid definition of "lee side" and take it more loosely.

Quote
Perhaps the NC shelter page needs a bit of cleaning up to match the current thinking.

So far as I can tell, it lays the case out very well, acknowledging the ambiguity in the witness testimony.  That's how people are.  They see different things, remember them differently, and (perhaps) get confused about what actually happened, even though they were involved in the event themselves.  That's life with people.
LTM,

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Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2012, 07:39:27 PM »


Quote
Quote
These statements seem to be completely contradictory to other statements that place this area 1.5 miles South of the NC wreck on the South-West side of the island.

Only because of your rigid interpretation of "lee side."

There is that and several statements that said that they went to the South-East corner of the island. I am not sure how many ways that you can interpret that.

They did not said, around the corner, to the South-East, they said the South-East corner of which there is only one.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2012, 08:49:27 PM »

...several statements that said that they went to the South-East corner of the island. I am not sure how many ways that you can interpret that.

Not in Henry Lott's statement.

Not in Daniel Hamer's statement.

Not in J. Thomas's statement.

Do you have some other sources other than those three?  If so, please provide links to same.

Otherwise, I suspect your memory is playing tricks on you.
LTM,

           Marty
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Malcolm McKay

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2012, 10:00:53 PM »

...several statements that said that they went to the South-East corner of the island. I am not sure how many ways that you can interpret that.

Not in Henry Lott's statement.


Not in Daniel Hamer's statement.

Not in J. Thomas's statement.

Do you have some other sources other than those three?  If so, please provide links to same.

Otherwise, I suspect your memory is playing tricks on you.

Reading those the one precise reference is in Lott -

"We took the stores and water from the surf boat and went to the camp. They told us that it was impossible to go through that surf again so we went to the lee side. The surf boat went across the lagoon. On arrival at the lee side the surf was pretty well as bad."

That appears to suggest the lee side is the eastern (perhaps north eastern, given its alignment) side of the island but given the geography of the island that could simply mean the south-western side below the main entrance to the lagoon. The sentence "The surf boat went across the lagoon." is a bit ambiguous but in those terms probably just means that it sailed across the entrance passage and went to the south western side which given the angle at which the island lies, relative to north, and the slight projection of the island called the SW Point on the 1935 map, probably created a bit of a lee in nautical terms.

http://tighar.org/smf/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=319.0;attach=56     
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Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2012, 03:51:59 AM »

"When we rounded the south East corner of the Island, I observed the native crew taking the survivors across the lagoon towards the South East."

This does not say that they rounded a corner, toward the South-East, it says specifically, they rounded the South-East corner of the Island. This is not ambiguous, this is precise. There is only one South-East corner on that island. If the statements about the direction of the wind during the storm were from the North-East, this matches the statement that the lee-side of the island was at the South-East of the island, not the South-West.

I will look more when I have time.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 05:18:28 AM by Heath Smith »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2012, 04:30:33 AM »

...several statements that said that they went to the South-East corner of the island. I am not sure how many ways that you can interpret that.

Reading those the one precise reference is in Lott -

"We took the stores and water from the surf boat and went to the camp. They told us that it was impossible to go through that surf again so we went to the lee side. The surf boat went across the lagoon. On arrival at the lee side the surf was pretty well as bad."

That appears to suggest the lee side is the eastern (perhaps north eastern, given its alignment) side of the island but given the geography of the island that could simply mean the south-western side below the main entrance to the lagoon. The sentence "The surf boat went across the lagoon." is a bit ambiguous but in those terms probably just means that it sailed across the entrance passage and went to the south western side which given the angle at which the island lies, relative to north, and the slight projection of the island called the SW Point on the 1935 map, probably created a bit of a lee in nautical terms.

http://tighar.org/smf/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=319.0;attach=56   

Please notice that you have completely failed to document the assertion that the survivors talk about traveling to the southeast corner of the island, which was the issue in contention.
LTM,

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Malcolm McKay

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2012, 05:36:07 AM »

...several statements that said that they went to the South-East corner of the island. I am not sure how many ways that you can interpret that.

Reading those the one precise reference is in Lott -

"We took the stores and water from the surf boat and went to the camp. They told us that it was impossible to go through that surf again so we went to the lee side. The surf boat went across the lagoon. On arrival at the lee side the surf was pretty well as bad."

That appears to suggest the lee side is the eastern (perhaps north eastern, given its alignment) side of the island but given the geography of the island that could simply mean the south-western side below the main entrance to the lagoon. The sentence "The surf boat went across the lagoon." is a bit ambiguous but in those terms probably just means that it sailed across the entrance passage and went to the south western side which given the angle at which the island lies, relative to north, and the slight projection of the island called the SW Point on the 1935 map, probably created a bit of a lee in nautical terms.

http://tighar.org/smf/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=319.0;attach=56   

Please notice that you have completely failed to document the assertion that the survivors talk about traveling to the southeast corner of the island, which was the issue in contention.

My intention was not to document that assertion at all (I can't see how you interpret my post as saying that) - from what I read in the accounts you quote, the only solid reference I found which referred to crossing the lagoon by boat

http://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Archives/Documents/Norwich_City/NorwichCity.html#2

suggested to me that it was that as they were on the north western part of the island and as it was impossible due to surf conditions to evacuate from there they crossed the entrance to the lagoon and eventually went to the southwestern side of the island, finishing up in a quieter spot somewhat in the lee of the very slight point on the south western side of the island. * 

That was where they were eventually evacuated from. Now unless I am mistaken if they crossed to the lower northeastern side across the lagoon then all your accounts of the evacuation are wrong and they were embarked from the northeastern shore. Your own map in the Ameliapedia reference to the Norwich City

http://tighar.org/wiki/File:Norwich_City_Rescue.jpg

shows the location I am talking about which is midway down the southwestern side of the island. It would help us all if the island was actually neatly aligned to the cardinal points of the compass.  ;)

*This was after, if I read the account correctly, they did try an evacuation from the lower north eastern side but it was impossible due to surf conditions. The accounts are at times difficult to follow.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 06:02:13 AM by Malcolm McKay »
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2012, 08:30:33 AM »

One of the interesting things about Nikumaroro is that it seems to confound folks about what direction parts of the island face, including us when we're there.  I think it has to do with the semi-diagonal nature of the orientation, where nothing is in line with one of the cardinal directions.

In addition, attached is a pdf showing the depiction of Nikumaroro that would have been on the navigational table in the wheelhouse of the ships coming to rescue the NC survivors.  It is based upon the 1872 survey, and was current as of 1929 when the NC went aground.  There is a south corner, and an east corner, but no SE corner as depicted. 

My guess is that the break in the coast line between the actual landing channel and the Baureke passage was interpreted more acutely than actual in this 1872 version, and by the crews of the Trongate and Lincoln Ellsworth.

I don't think the NC survivors ever were on the shore that faces NE, i.e. the 7 site, they were clearly observed heading down the lagoon to the SE, and Baureke passage would be the simplest place to transition back to the beach.  Everywhere else they would not have been able to see out to sea or even know where the ships were.  Doesn't make sense to go anywhere else other than out one of the passages.

Andrew

« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 08:36:05 AM by Andrew M McKenna »
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