British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 27

Submitted: Excerpt from Notice to Commanders

The following document was supplied by the White Star Line at the request of Mr. Clement Edwards: -


To the Commanders: -

Precautions to be observed in approaching and navigating the St. Lawrence.

The principal dangers in approaching the St. Lawrence being ice and fog, during the ice season, particularly between February and June, a sharp look-out at all time must be kept for ice. In hazy weather ice-blink can be seen at some distance if the Officer on watch is quick enough to distinguish it, but in dense fog you should go slow across the ice track, taking temperatures of the water at regular and frequent intervals of not more than half-an-hour. Some large bergs when close to will give an echo from the steamer's whistle, and thereby give you warning. Again, Most bergs have a few small detached pieces floating around and near them. Should you see small ice, stop and reverse at once. In the event of your running into thick field or pack ice during fog on the edge of the Grand banks, it will be best to stop, turn round, and come out the same way as you went in, then steer to the southward to pass around the southern end of it. Remember this kind of ice frequently contains many submerged bergs.

In approaching the straits of Belleisle from the Eastward the best plan would be to deviate from the Great Circle course so as to arrive in the latitude of Belleisle Lighthouse about 40 miles East of it, then steer to pass South of the Island. In fog keep sounding; you will be safe in not going into less than 60 fathoms. The strait should not be entered in dense fog without locating the Island. Even in hazy weather the greatest precautions must be taken, the only safe guide being the lead. After entering the strait in thick weather take a continuous range of soundings with course and distance between each cast, so as to verify your position by laying this down on the chart.

In approaching the south entrance pass about 40 miles South-East of the Virgin Rocks. In thick weather commence sounding as soon as you pass the edge of the Grand bank, taking a continuous range of soundings until you run off the st. Pierre bank into deep water, then haul up for Cabot Strait to pass midway between Cape Ray and St. Paul's Island, keeping the lead going so as to keep in the deep water, and proceed with the greatest caution.

Between Cape Rosier and Father Point in thick weather, the soundings should be very frequent on account of the Hundred Fathom Bank being only two miles off shore in some places.

Remember that in the St. Lawrence the land is frequently obscured by thick mist or snow, and clear off shore, thereby obscuring the land by day, and the lights by night.

As it is supposed by many that there is in some parts of the St. Lawrence a certain amount of local attraction, too much reliance should not be placed on the compass. Solar and stellar observations to correct the compasses should be taken at every opportunity. If no observations have been obtained for some length of time, particularly after a change in the course, you must be extremely careful how you proceed, bearing in mind the fact that the tides and currents, both in the St. Lawrence and also in the North and South approaches thereto, vary very much in force and direction, and cannot be relied on at any time.

July 27th, 1903