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Author Topic: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.  (Read 56168 times)

Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #45 on: May 13, 2012, 05:30:33 AM »

Interestingly, the Seven Site is almost precisely 1.5NM South of the Norwich City.

Coincidence?

See attached Google Earth .kmz.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2012, 05:55:04 AM by Heath Smith »
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #46 on: May 13, 2012, 08:29:09 AM »

Those who are thinking that the Survivors tried the NE Coast of Niku as a rescue option are not thinking through the logistics of trying to accomplish that.

We all agree that they took the surf boat into the lagoon from near the wreck site, yes?

So I assume we are also in agreement that they did not abandon the surf boat in the lagoon, yes?

If so, they had to get the surf boat from the lagoon back to the ocean.  That is no small task, and there are only two logical and easy places to do that, one is Tatiman passage through with they entered the lagoon, and the other is Baureke passage, which is about 2 miles to the SE of the NC wreck, conveniently matching the "1.5 mile" description of the distance to the recovery area.

Nobody in their right mind would attempt to exit the lagoon and portage their boat through the dense underbrush across the island to the beach on the NE side.  If they had, it would have been an extreme effort, and I would expect that adventure would have been reported in the records.  Nobody mentions such activity.  From personal experience, I can tell you that this would be a near impossible task without a bunch of cutting tools and a ton of water.  In 2001, it took us two days to cut a trail from the lagoon to the ocean and that was with machetes and chain saws, and even then the trail was only wide enough for human traffic, not a surf boat. 

I've said before, and Gregory Daspit mentions it in his email, you cannot see out of or into the lagoon anywhere except the two passages mentioned above, so the only way for the ship to see the surf boat is if it happened to be outside one of the passages looking in.  If the surf boat had continued down to the SE end of the lagoon as you suggest, the boats would not have been able to see the ship, and vice versa.  That is not a recipe for rescue and I can't see anyone thinking that being out of visual contact with your rescuers was a good plan.

The only logical solution is to exit at Tatiman or Baureke passage, and get rescued.  Look at the timeline, they go aground on Friday night.  The Trongate and the L. Ellsworth arrive on Tuesday at 8am ish.  After launching the surf boat ashore, the next thing the ships do is find a better place some 1.5 miles down the beach from the wreck.  Later that same day, they "cross the lagoon in the boat to where the vessels were waiting on the outside and transported the boat to edge of the reef. It was now about 2 p.m."  So since the arrival of the ships, only 6 hours has passed.

Three men got off that evening, and the boat was returned to the beach overnight.  The next day all were extracted and aboard the Trongate by 2:30 pm.

The timeline doesn't allow for the effort to try to row all the way down the lagoon, portage the surf boat to get to the beach on the NE coast, and then portage their surf boat back into the lagoon, back up the lagoon, and get extracted 1.5 miles from the shipwreck.  In addition, I don't think the surf boat could accommodate all 24 survivors plus the 6 Native crew members, so they would have had to make multiple trips to the end of the lagoon to get everyone down there.  There simply isn't enough time.

When I read the testimony Swindell of the Trongate, what comes to mind is that he steamed the ship to the SE along the reef from the NE end near the wreck looking for a better place to cross the surf.  He next says "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."  The only places he could do that would be outside one of the Passages, and I suspect it was Tatiman passage, since it would not be logical for the surf boat to be heading SE from Baureke.  I think the SE corner of the island he is referring to is the N side Tatiman Passage, which is a corner to the SE of the shipwreck, the SE end of Nutiran if you will.  From outside the passage he would be able to observe the surf boat taking survivors to the SE, which it would have had to do several times given the number of people needing transport.

I'd also like to point out that in the testimony, it was raining on Saturday with the wind out of the West, but then cleared up and got hot on Sunday, so the storm was pretty much over by Saturday night.  The brackish water source dried up on Monday due to the heat, and they are all getting sunburnt, so the storm is definitely gone.  Then they get rescued on Tues and Weds.  With the storm passing by the end of Saturday, I would think that the prevailing winds would have returned normal some 3 days after the storm left, which would mean that the NE shore would again have been the windward side, and the SW shore would again be the leeward side, which helps explain why they say they get rescued from the lee side.

Anyway, that's how I interpret the testimony and the situation, given what I know about the place from first hand experience.

Andrew
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #47 on: May 13, 2012, 08:35:14 AM »

Lott's account paragraph five -

"On arrival at the lee side the surf was pretty well as bad. After several attempts with the surf boat they eventually got away with three men."

If you read that account closely you will see that that is a pretty clear indication that there was one attempt from the north eastern (lee) side of the atoll

I have read it closely, and I do not see "a pretty clear indication that there was one attempt from the northeastern (lee) side of the atoll."

That's because I do not define the "lee side" as the northeastern side of the atoll.  By "northeastern side," I presume you mean Aukaraime south and not Noriti.

Here is my definition of windward and leeward:



Quote
, then after that they give up and go to where you claim the rest of the evacuation took place from - which by the way I accept. They are quite specific when referring to the distance from the Norwich City wreck. The problem is that as good sailors, because it is the wind strength that is hampering things, they are referring to island geography in terms of the wind direction.

Yes, it is "island geography" that gives meaning to their terms.  "Island geography" shows that the part of the leeside is southeast of the wreck. 

The way I read the story, the boat landed 200 yards south of the wreck.  Subsequent attempts to cross the reef moved further and further south along the coast until a place and time were found that allowed the 24 men to be ferried across the breaking waves, 3 or 4 at a time.

I cannot imagine the 24 men trundling down to Aukaraime North, where the Seven Site is, then scurrying back to get within 1.5 miles south of the wreck, as two sources indicate (Hamer and Tichendorf).  You can.

Quote
As far as the lagoon is concerned I am only referring to the body of water contained within Nikumaroro. If I am referring to eastern side of the lagoon I am referring to the inner shore along the side where Site Seven lies towards its southerly end. A lagoon is a body of water, an island like Nikumaroro which contains a lagoon is an atoll. Quite simple.   

Simple and unclear.

The "eastern side of the lagoon" also contains the shoreline of Aukaraime South and Ameriki.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #48 on: May 13, 2012, 08:39:57 AM »

Interestingly, the Seven Site is almost precisely 1.5NM South of the Norwich City.

Coincidence?


Yes.  If you're going to imagine Hamer and Tichendorf measuring 1.5 miles south, as you have done, then they also ought to have mentioned that the rescue site was 3 miles east as well.

I don't find that a reasonable reading of the text.  To me, it says, "We worked our way along the shore heading south about 1.5 miles before we found a good place to try again."  "South" is being used colloquially, not cartographically.  If the 24 men could have walked south along a compass line from the wreck, as you have drawn it on the picture, they could have climbed aboard the waiting ships without further ado.
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Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #49 on: May 13, 2012, 08:56:42 AM »

Quote
When I read the testimony Swindell of the Trongate, what comes to mind is that he steamed the ship to the SE along the reef from the NE end near the wreck looking for a better place to cross the surf.  He next says "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."  The only places he could do that would be outside one of the Passages, and I suspect it was Tatiman passage, since it would not be logical for the surf boat to be heading SE from Baureke.

Andrew,

What was the height of the bridge on the Trongate above the water?

I believe this is a photo of the Trongate.

Data:

Trongate; 2414 tons; 380.3x51.9x23.4 ft.; Two decks; Built at Newcastle, United Kingdom in Jan-. Registred at London, Greater London, England. Registration no. 145738.

REPORT OF J. THOMAS, FIRST OFFICER, S.S. NORWICH CITY

"The island consisted of a strip of coral surrounding the lagoon covered with trees. The distance between the lagoon and the sea shore varying from 1/4 to 1/2 miles. The highest of the trees reached a height of about 60 feet above sea level. The trees were of a light character and full of sap, the diameter varying from 15 to about 24 inches on the larger; a few sharp blows with our small lifeboat axes was quite sufficient to bring down any of the trees, the wood being of such a soft nature."

Also interesting is:

This is a transcription of a handwritten document. Misspellings have been corrected but no other edits have been introduced. Notations in a different handwriting at the top of the document refer the reader to H.O. (Hydrographic Office) Chart 125 and H.O. Publication 166.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2012, 09:15:06 AM by Heath Smith »
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Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #50 on: May 13, 2012, 09:28:00 AM »


As crude looking as the H.O.125 map seems to be, the scale is actually fairly good.
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #51 on: May 13, 2012, 09:38:18 AM »

I don't know the height of the bridge, but even with an elevated view I don't think visibility into the lagoon would be good.

H.O. publication 166 has a publication date of 1932, so I don't think it applies to the rescue of the NC survivors.  Do you have a different date of the chart?  I suspect that the notations in different handwriting were from a later time.

Is there something you are driving at?

Andrew

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Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #52 on: May 13, 2012, 09:51:54 AM »

I don't know the height of the bridge, but even with an elevated view I don't think visibility into the lagoon would be good.

H.O. publication 166 has a publication date of 1932, so I don't think it applies to the rescue of the NC survivors.  Do you have a different date of the chart?  I suspect that the notations in different handwriting were from a later time.

Is there something you are driving at?

Andrew

While visibility may not be ideal, I believe that the bridge was well above the trees allowing the captain to see the lagoon. Therefore I do not believe that we can exclude the possibility that the lagoon was visible beyond the lagoon inlets.

I am not sure about H.O. 166. I believe H.O.125 was mentioned in the NC report of the first officer of the NC. I am trying to research the available maps of the era. If I find anything interesting I will pass them on.
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #53 on: May 13, 2012, 10:02:01 AM »

Well, with 20 to 60 ft trees in the way, certainly a good deal of the lagoon would be obstructed.  Also depends upon how close in to the reef they were. 

I can tell you that when on the lagoon in the Naiad skiff, we occasionally caught a glimpse of the Naia's mast, some 100 ft high, but not often.

Andrew
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Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #54 on: May 13, 2012, 10:12:51 AM »


As the captain stated, after rounding the SE corner he saw the crew oaring to the SE as well.

The land mass is minimal if viewed as shown in the map and the height of the trees (or brush) might have been fairly low providing for a nice view of the lagoon especially if the captain had binoculars.

It would certainly seem to remain a possibility.
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Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #55 on: May 13, 2012, 10:22:26 AM »

Quote
To me, it says, "We worked our way along the shore heading south about 1.5 miles before we found a good place to try again."

And if you take that literally Jesus himself must have been in the crew to allow them to walk on water over the inlets to the lagoon.

No reference to the beginning point of their "walk" was given was it?
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #56 on: May 13, 2012, 10:29:33 AM »

No reference to the beginning point of their "walk" was given was it?

Yes.  The 19' "whale boat" landed 200 yards south of the wreck.

Not cartographic "south," because that would not be a "landing."

In this context, the word "south" means "to the right of the wreck."
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Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #57 on: May 13, 2012, 10:32:45 AM »


So you are saying they did wade through the water at the Northern inlet.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #58 on: May 13, 2012, 10:56:56 AM »

So you are saying they did wade through the water at the Northern inlet.

At or near, yes.

A 19' boat cannot carry 30 men (24 survivors, 6 natives) for very long.  I think we have to picture most of the men reaching the rendezvous point on foot.  They did so with the expectation that they would shortly be ferried across the reef.  I think this explains the lack of food and water at their final campsite.  They left behind their own boats, the water that they had collected, their provisions, and the shelter that they had constructed:

Sunday, 2 December: "The dawn came with the promise of fine weather and shortly afterwards each man was given a dipper of water and the camp was reorganised. A more suitable site was selected and parties told off for various jobs. One party under the Second Officer was told off to obtain water, another for cocoanuts and the remainder to build a shelter. The lifeboat axes came in very useful for this. Small trees were cut down, trimmed and lashed between four large trees in the form of a square. A trellis of smaller trees and branches was formed on top and over this the two sails were spread. Around three sides a barricade was made to keep out the crabs, leaving the lee side open for the fire, which was soon got under way. The ground was cleared of twigs etc., and then covered with leaves over which was placed a couple of blankets and old canvas which had been washed ashore. Altogether it looked and was fairly comfortable."

The rescue boats showed up communicated with each other on Monday.

Tuesday

The skiff landed, but could not get anybody off the reef.

On Tuesday, they moved 1.5 miles "south" of the wreck.  Only three survivors got off the island.

Then they requested supplies: "Send water, biscuits--weather too bad--try tomorrow."

On Wednesday, the remaining 21 were take off in groups of 3 and 4.
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« Last Edit: May 13, 2012, 01:26:06 PM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Heath Smith

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Re: Norwich City survivors and the Seven Site.
« Reply #59 on: May 13, 2012, 11:12:19 AM »

That is interesting because that story does not seem to match that of STATUTORY DECLARATION OF J.H. SWINDELL, MASTER, S.S. TRONGATE that was leading the rescue.

The following suggests that the whale boat attempted to return the same day after crossing the lagoon.

The Trongate "Hove to" after rounding the South-East corner of the island.

At 2:30pm they fired the rocket to shore.

Sometime after 3:00pm, 4 returned to shore.

That was the end of the attempts to rescue the survivors at which point the ships "stood off" until morning.

4. My ship sailed from Apia harbour at 2 p.m. on Saturday 30th November, 1939, and on Tuesday the 3rd day of December, 1929, we sighted Gardner Island : an hour later we could see the NORWICH CITY.
5.   The TRONGATE hove to at 8.30 a.m. about a half mile away from the stranded vessel which appeared to me a total loss.
6.   A heavy sea was running and large breakers extended for about 300 feet ashore from the reef. The TRONGATE crept in to about 800 feet from the reef and at 9 o'clock the whale boat was launched with the native crew aboard, for the purpose of taking water and provisions ashore to the survivors who I could see on the Island.
7.   The whale boat succeeded in making the shore in safety. I consider that only wonderful seamanship and courage enabled them to get the boat over the reef and through the heavy breakers between it and the shore.
8.   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.
9.   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.   The TRONGATE then hove to and launched the life boat in charge of the Chief Officer: the motor boat from the LINCOLN ELLSWORTH was launched to tow our life boat, but owing to the heavy breakers they could only stand by until the whale boat could cross the reef on its return journey.
11.   We observed the whale boat endeavouring to come back to the TRONGATE the whole of the morning, but it could not cross the reef: it was frequently capsized and washed inshore: each time it was capsized and washed inshore the crew would get it afloat again to make another attempt.
12.   At 2.30 p.m. we fired a rocket line ashore and by this means we received a message from the NORWICH CITY survivors as follows:
        "send water biscuits weather too bad try tomorrow."
13.   At 3 p.m. the whale boat succeeded in crossing the reef and reached the TRONGATE'S life boat and the LINCOLN ELLSWORTH'S motor boat. The motor boat towed the other two boats to the TRONGATE. The whale boat had brought 3 survivors from the island.
14.   The native crew, which had been working uncessantly [sic] since early morning, rested for a little while on the TRONGATE; then 4 of them returned to the island to be ready to make a further attempt to bring off the survivors in the morning.
15.   The swell moderated during the day but was still very heavy at nightfall: the LINCOLN ELLSWORTH and the TRONGATE stood off for the night.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2012, 11:18:11 AM by Heath Smith »
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