15 – 16 April at Sea

Floral tribute from the Australian government

I think we all slept late on the 15 April after we finally turned in following the service. In spite of the late hour (or early morning, rather), most of us lingered and talked. The next day was quite subdued in mood. The passengers had adhered to the request not to throw any personal tributes in the water, but there were so many memorials and tributes from individuals, organisations and nations on board that they were assembled in the ship’s library for viewing (later to be documented and recorded at Halifax’s Maritime Museum of the Atlantic). The Australian government supplied flowers on behalf of the Australian people and the six Australians on board the Titanic. Others represented included those who had family on board in 1912, and these were poignant indeed as they recalled intimate stories of loss and grief.
Days at sea were spent getting to know fellow passengers, like the maritime artist James Flood whose remarkable paintings, one of which he completed during the course of the voyage, were a focal point and most of us dropped in at some point during each day to see the progress that had been made. Jim is a very genial individual and the temptation was always there to linger for a chat.

Maritime artist James Flood painting the Titanic

So many of the people on board had a passionate interest in the disaster – one such was this lovely student, Alix, who sat down with me in one of the lounges when she saw me sketching. She produced her own work – a lovingly compiled and illustrated log book of the voyage, which told the story of our crossing through ephemera and her own lovely sketches and those contributed by others on board. Alix was proof enough that there is a new generation of researchers in development that will continue to explore this subject into the future now that we’ve passed the centennial milestone of the tragedy.

Passenger Alix and a page from her logbook - a unique record of the voyage

One of the more interesting events that took place on board in this period before we made landfall was a wedding ceremony in the Observatory Lounge (actually a reconfirmation of wedding vows taken previous ashore), conducted by Canon Huw Mosford. I know that some would question the timing of the event, but the ceremony itself – I happened to be in the Lounge as I was enjoying a quiet moment with a book and was an inadvertant bystander – was a cheerful little ceremony held under the beautiful blue sky that shone through the lounge’s large skylight.

Wedding in the ship's Observatory Lounge located on the top deck

Our crossing continued smoothly, although not quite as calm as it did the night of the 14-15 April when we experienced conditions so reminiscent of the night of the sinking. But the time passed pleasantly at sea as it does on a cruise ship, with lectures on the Titanic alternating with more typical activities such as daily quizzes. The passenger numbers of one and a half thousand people meant that those on board felt comfortable in approaching and chatting to the lecturers on board, and the formal Q & A sessions enabled panel discussions for everything from the most basic of questions (such as the whys and wherefores of the event) to some of the thornier controversies, such as salvage of artefacts, with a range of viewpoints represented.