Lifeboat from Titanic
Lifeboat to Carpathia
Confidence Level
Chaffee, Mrs Carrie Constance
4 (9 votes)
11 (7 votes)
4 (9 votes)
11 (7 votes)

Evening Tribune, April 23rd 1912:
    "When my husband and I, having been instructed to put on our life belts, were coming up the stairs to "A" deck, we were met in the landing by an officer, the only one I had seen since the ship struck. I had said to Mr. Chaffee: 'We had better stay together,' but the officer said something about the women going to one side of the deck. I passed out on the deck, leaving Mr. Chaffee there. "On the deck I was told, with other women, to go up to the boat deck and a moment later we were ordered down to "A" deck again. "I did not see my husband again. The boat in which I was taken from the ship was, I think, the last of those on one side to get away. There were a good many babies in our life boat. When I took my seat a baby was thrust into my arms and I was given a sea sick woman to hold up on the other side, and so we were lowered, first one end of the boat going down at a dangerous angle, and then the other.
    The ship sank steadily until just at the last, when it plunged rapidly. Just before going down it seemed to writhe, breaking into the three parts in which it was divided. First the middle seemed to go down, lifting bow and stern into the air. Then it twisted the other way, throwing the middle up. Finally the bow went under, and it plunged, stern last.....From 1 o'clock until 4 in the morning, Mrs. Chaffee said, the men in their lifeboat rowed steadily. Toward 4 o'clock a stewardess continually declared she could see the radiance of a searchlight behind them, and that they were going in the wrong direction.
   Her announcement finally was found to be true, and the boat was ordered about in the opposite direction. The light was that of the Carpathia, showing above the horizon as the rescue ship was racing toward the scene."

The Fargo Forum, April 22nd 1912:
    "Mrs Chaffee said that the last moment with her husband was when he pushed her through the narrow space between the rail and the boat, telling her that it was alright, that she would be rowed back to him in a few minutes.
    Then the boats began to drop. No system was used to fill them. The boat I was in was overmanned. Two men were discovered smoking cigarettes under the seats, and the sailors and the stewards were not able to row.
    As we pulled steadily away, for the first time I understood the low purring sound. It was the water rushing into the Titanic’s side and my heart seemed to stop. The great vessel was perceptibly lowering in the water."

For many years, it has been assumed that Mrs Chaffee departed the Titanic in lifeboat 4. When the group began to examine the accounts, doubt was raised about this assumption.

That Mrs Chaffee was in boat 4 is based on her and her husband being separated on A deck, an experience which was shared by women who did leave in boat 4, including Mrs Thayer.

Yet, according to Mrs Chaffee in the Fargo Forum on April 22nd, she parted from her husband at the lifeboat. Her lifeboat pulled away from the ship steadily; far enough for her to have a good view of the Titanic as it sank. This did not happen at lifeboat 4, which remained close enough to the ship to pull in men from the water and davit ropes, and for Mrs Ryerson to see water flooding into the cabins on C deck.  Mrs Chaffee also said that her boat was overmanned, and that men were discovered smoking under the seats.

What was agreed was that Mrs Chaffee boarded a lifeboat from A deck – passing through the narrow space.

Did Mrs Chaffee enter lifeboat 11? The group looked at evidence for this. The presence of men under the seats, and men smoking, is similar to other passengers who were in boat 11. That there were babies without parents in the boat is also true of boat 11, as is the presence of a stewardess.

The group found evidence that Mr and Mrs Chaffee were acquainted with Mr and Mrs Silvey, and discussed the possibility that the women were in the same boat. Yet neither women mentions the other.

Overall, a definite boat could not be identified for Mrs Chaffee, other than to suggest either boat 4 or boat 11.