5. Lowering

The main consideration in lowering is to make certain that at least one boat -- which can hold the average merchant ship's entire crew -- reaches the water safely. If you see that a shortage of adequately trained seamen is liable to result in swamped boats, take the most competent men from the other boat crews to lower away.

WAY. -- It is dangerous for inexperienced seamen to launch a lifeboat where there is way on, though old-timers prefer to have the vessel going ahead. William Caves, for instance, likes to lower when the ship is traveling at about five knots -- but Caves is a highly-skilled veteran.

In the last war, 339 men were lost on the torpedoed Persia. Because the ship was going ahead, the boats were swamped, torn away, or capsized. On the torpedoed Maloja 124 were lost; the ship had sternway. Because the torpedoed California had way on, a boat was overturned; 43 lost. The Antony was under way when the boats were lowered. The boats were swamped; 55 lost. The engines could not be


stopped aboard the Abosso. Thirteen lifeboats were swamped; 65 men lost. Way on the Garmoyle caused one boat to capsize; 20 lost.

STORM OIL. -- If the sea is rough, open the cocks on the storm oil tanks forward.

SKATES. -- If the lifeboat is not equipped with skates, use the strongback and oars as skates, to get the boat over rims, ports, gangway fittings, and other projections, and past the promenade deck on the high side. In this manner Vestris seamen forced a boat down a 30 degree list, launching it successfully.

STERN FAST. -- If the ship is pitching, you will need a stern fast as well as a painter, both hauled taut, to keep the boat from swaying.

ORDERS. -- If other boats are being lowered, be sure you do not execute an order meant for another boat.

DECK CARGO. -- When deck cargo has been washed over the lee side, and is alongside the ship so that it is impossible to launch a lifeboat safely, then a chance has to be taken to lower from the weather side -- unless the ship has maneuverability and can be turned around.

FRAPPING LINE. -- Frapping lines will keep the boat from swinging. Use one for each fall. On a cargo or tank vessel secure the frapping line to the moving block, or take a bight around the fall. If the line is equipped with a hook, secure


the hook on the swivel of the moving block. Handle the frapping lines from the boat deck, a man to each line.

PAYING OUT. -- Pay out the fall from a sitting position. That will eliminate the chance of slipping on an ice-covered deck or being overbalanced by a rolling ship.

Wear gloves to avoid rope burns.

See that the falls are properly turned on the cleats.

Lower slowly at first, with sufficient turns so you can pay out smoothly. Avoid jerks, which can exert dangerous strains on the davits, falls, and boats.

Unless you are experienced, do not take your eyes off the bollard or cleat.

Be careful that the fall does not jump off the fairlead. It will let the boat down with a jolt.

The after end of the boat should be slightly lower than the forward end.

JACOB's LADDER. -- The Jacob's ladder should be put over the side amidship of the boat and not alongside a davit.

RELEASING GEAR. -- Work the releasing gear about a foot or two above the water. If the releasing gear is operated after the boat is waterborne, it liable to jam.

If the ship has slight way, by handling the rudder, you can steer the boat away from the


ship's side. This eliminates the danger of another boat being dropped on the waterborne one.

Operate the releasing gear when the ship has reached the limit of its downward roll.

Release the boat as a sea approaches, so that the boat will drop on the crest.


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