Once your highly buoyant lifeboat is waterborne, no difficult process is required to keep it from capsizing. You merely must have the weight distributed properly. Allow no one to stand on a thwart. Five men can do all that is necessary to get the boat away from the ship's side. In a heavy sea maintain a low center of gravity by having the balance of the crew keep down on the bottom boards.
BLOCKS. -- As soon as the releasing gear is operated, watch out for swinging blocks.
FALLS. -- Falls may be used to slide down in abandoning ship.
BOAT HOOK. -- Have a man shove off from the ship's side with a boat hook or oar.
PAINTER. -- Have the bow man haul as much of the painter into the boat as possible before he cuts loose. This will give you extra line. Pulling up on the rope will put the boat in motion, enabling the man at the tiller to steer, providing the sea is not too rough.
OAR LASHINGS. -- When letting go the lashings on the oars, be sure only half of them are
turned loose. Otherwise, if the boat capsize, all the oars will be lost.
OARSMEN. -- It is not necessary to man all of the oars. One oarsman on each side will be able to get the boat away from the ship quickly. They should row immediately at right angles to the ship, to eliminate the possibility of another boat being lowered on top of the waterborne one.
ROWING. -- It is difficult to row in a heavy sea. The men can last at it about fifteen minutes, and by making every stroke count, can perhaps get a half mile from the ship.
Be sure you do not start pulling on the oar before it is in the water.
Keep your eye on the stroke oar on each side of the boat.
Put the weight of your body on the oar. In a boat properly rowed a thrumming noise issues from the oars and gives a sense of timing.
In a double-banked boat be careful that you do not draw a longer stroke than the man in front of you. If you do, you are liable to dig him in the back with the handle of your oar.
FEATHERING. -- While it is the customary practice to grasp the handle of the oar with both hands on the upper side, many oarsmen find it easier to feather with one hand on the upper side and one hand on the under side. This is the grip
The weather aided these Japs more than their seamanship. (Acme)
used by Negro seamen of the West Indies. They are exceptional oarsmen. The grip is also used by the Ellis and Gilbert Islanders, and no finer oarsmen live.
Do not feather until the blade is clear of the water. If you do so, the oar will be forced down by the way of the boat and it will likely foul the oar behind you.
At this time feathering is not important. Your chief concern should be to get clear of the ship's suction area.
LIFE PRESERVER. -- If everything is behaving properly, and the men realize the importance of keeping the weight distributed evenly, there is no need to continue wearing your life preserver. Drop it to the bottom of the boat.
SEA ANCHOR. -- Put out the sea anchor and rest up. Do not attempt to set sail immediately. Wait until shock, confusion, and panic have subsided. When the panicked crew of the torpedoed Norwegian freighter Blink tried to hoist a sail, the lifeboat capsized, throwing 23 men into icy water and immediately costing one man's life. Food, water, oars, and sail were lost.
MAN OVERBOARD. -- Be sure no one is near a churning propeller. Herbert L. Gardner, Jr., wiper from an Atlantic Refining Co. tanker, saw two shipmates caught in the propeller's suction and dragged into the blades to their death.
Men have died by being struck by rescue boats. Approach a man in the water no closer than the distance needed to reach him with an outstretched oar.
PISTOL. -- Be sure that no hot-headed shipmate has a gun. Firing it at the sub will only draw fire on your boat. Besides, it is unlawful for merchant seamen to possess firearms.
PANIC. -- Away from the ship in a lifeboat that is riding nicely, you have little or no cause for panic. When the Robin Moor men heard machine-gun fire, they were stricken with terror that they would be shot. But the sub's gunners were merely indulging in target practice, firing at wreckage.
If the enemy intended to machine-gun a crew, they generally would not let the crew get off the ship.
The sub commander who sank the Robin Moor provided extra rations for the crew and first-aid materials for Chief Officer Mundy P. H. Janssen, fireman from a torpedoed American freighter, after being hauled aboard a submarine by the German crew, spent five minutes on its deck before he was transferred to a lifeboat.
More likely than not, you will find that enemy sailors will give you the same treatment they would expect to receive. [NOTE that these comments are from the first year of America's entry into the war. Conditions would not change for the better in the ensuing years... -- HyperWar]
BULLET HOLE. -- Do not give up because a
hole is shot in your boat. The airtanks will float her, and with proper tools any boat can be patched at sea.
In a sheet-metal boat, if you have sheet-metal screws, a prick punch and a screwdriver, by cutting up an airtank you can patch in an hour a hole one foot in diameter.
Table of Contents
Previous Chapter (5) * Next Chapter (7)