I time traveled to the date of April 14th, 1912 with my time machine. It’s evening, 6:00 PM to be exact and my location is the deck of the ship Titanic. We all know what is going to happen not too long from now. I need to survive. So my question is: what can I do to survive the midnight sinking?

One important thing I need to say is that I cannot under any circumstances stop the Titanic from hitting the iceberg. The Titanic must hit the iceberg tonight. And in order to change the timeline as little as possible, I want to stay under the radar as much as possible.

Important thing to say, I’m already wearing a Radiation Suit

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Oct 15 '19 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ Are you a man or a woman or child? $\endgroup$ – hszmv Oct 17 '19 at 16:54

16 Answers 16


Befriend and hang out with fellow passenger, Margaret (Molly/Maggie) Brown then follow her to lifeboat #6 which historically will have available seats.

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    $\begingroup$ While going to a lifeboat with historically available seats appears like a good idea, stay away from boat #6 (or all portside boats for that matter) if you are neither a woman nor a child. Apparantly, the officers in charge of the lifeboats interpreted the order to let "women and children" down differently and male passengers were entirely denied entry to portside boats while they were awarded free seats on starboard boats if no women or children were near. $\endgroup$ – inVader Oct 15 '19 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ For boat #6 in particular, the article says (my emphasis/annotations): "While being lowered, pleas from women in the boat for additional oarsmen forced Lightoller to solicit the crowd on deck for anyone who had sailing experience. Major Arthur Godfrey Peuchen of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club volunteered, shimmying down the falls (ropes) into the boat. Peuchen was the only male passenger whom Second Officer Lightoller permitted to board a [portside] lifeboat." $\endgroup$ – inVader Oct 15 '19 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ Since it had free seats historically, wouldn't getting in one change that fact, removing this SO answer from existence? $\endgroup$ – Parrotmaster Oct 15 '19 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ If it had more than 1 free seat, the narrative remains the same. History will not care if it had 5 free seats or 6, just as long as he is not taking the last one. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Oct 15 '19 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ @KalleMP, we don't... and this is exactly why I was advising to try to board on the starboard side instead if (and only if) they were neither a woman nor a child (or, in fact, could be mistaken for one) in the original comment. $\endgroup$ – inVader Oct 16 '19 at 1:41

As soon as a lifeboat launches, volunteer to be in it.

At first there were quite a lot of people who hesitated to go into a little wooden boat in the middle of the Atlantic, when the big reassuring liner still had power and light and was merely stopped.

Here is the wikipedia link looked up by DevSolar. Pryftan is right, a source never hurts.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you have a source for that information? I'm not disbelieving you I just think it would improve the answer and would be for interesting reading. $\endgroup$ – Pryftan Oct 15 '19 at 11:38
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    $\begingroup$ Early lifeboats were undermanned. I don't think this needs specific sourcing... $\endgroup$ – DevSolar Oct 15 '19 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ Specific sourcing helps, but I think the knowledge that nobody back then expected the Titanic to sink was pretty common by now. (Spoiler alert it sank...) $\endgroup$ – Nelson Oct 16 '19 at 3:32
  • $\begingroup$ The article that @DevSolar posted should be its own answer. It lets you pick the perfect boat to be on depending on your preference of company and when exactly you'd like to be picked up. $\endgroup$ – Tom Oct 16 '19 at 10:45

Buy a first class ticket

enter image description here

If you had a child with you would increase it more. You could also have your life jacket with you and wait near the lifeboats. Being a woman would also increase the odds.

Even if you were a first-class passenger with a higher likelihood of getting a seat in a lifeboat, your chances of getting that seat increased if you were a woman or child. The “women and children first” rule applied when loading the lifeboats, although the rule wasn’t strictly or equally enforced. If a lifeboat was about to be launched on the starboard side and empty seats were available, men could take the seats if no women or children were at hand to take them. On the port side, however, it was more apt to be “women and children only” — very few men escaped the ship from this side. So if you were a man, your chances of survival were greatly increased by going starboard, as opposed to going port.

Titanic passenger survival rates

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    $\begingroup$ Correlation is not causation. There may be other reasons why first-class passengers had a higher survival rate, like where on the ship their rooms were located, where they typically spent their time (both of which can likely fully be counteracted if you knew when the ship would start sinking) or the demographics (and general mindset) of each class. Or were first-class passengers specifically prioritised when loading life boats? The latter quote has a similar problem - there may simply have been fewer men on the port side (which could end up that a man is more likely to survive on that side). $\endgroup$ – NotThatGuy Oct 15 '19 at 12:08
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    $\begingroup$ Gee so it wasn't because the third class passengers were locked downstairs while the first class got loaded on the boats? Good to know..... $\endgroup$ – Thorne Oct 15 '19 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Thorne No. All classes of women and children had higher survival rates than first class men. abisaab.wordpress.com/interesting-facts/survival-rates-by-class $\endgroup$ – DrMcCleod Oct 15 '19 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Thorne Evacuation of 3rd class passengers was less prompt than for others, but the claim that 3rd class passengers were locked below while the ship sank is a myth, possibly caused by confusion with the fact that they were segregated from other classes during the voyage. See e.g. timmaltin.com/2019/04/23/third-class-passengers-titanic $\endgroup$ – Geoffrey Brent Oct 16 '19 at 1:35
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    $\begingroup$ The impact will occur in 5 hours, and the person in already onboard. There are no ticket sales points on the actual boat when its underway. What kind of silly answer is this, and how did it get 38 upvotes, what is wrong with this community $\endgroup$ – Innovine Oct 16 '19 at 10:42

You're on deck, which is the most important thing. Your survival odds are already waaay up.

It'll be cold on deck. Wear a big coat. Underneath your coat, wear a good dry suit with some high-quality thermals underneath (possibly battery heated ones). The photos on the Wikipedia page notwithstanding, a drysuit needn't make you look like an astronaut, especially a suit that's intended for short term use whilst swimming, not diving.

Even if you don't get into a boat (and as the other answers have said, you should be able to do this) you'll be vastly better off than anyone else in the water. The lifeboats didn't move far away from site of the sinking, but they did not dare to return to collect swimmers for fear of being swamped and overturned. As a result, most of the swimmers died of hypothermia, but you don't need to let that happen to you. Swim out to the boats... one of them will eventually let you on board, or haul yourself up onto one of the bigger bits of debris and await rescue.

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    $\begingroup$ This. Most who died very likely died of hypothermia. With a dry suit, a PFD and a whistle, you can tread water for hours until help arrives and then signal for them. Trying to get on a lifeboat carries the risk of failure -- this very nearly eliminates that risk. Granted, staying under the radar will be out the window when you're pulled out of the water completely comfortable and wearing a strange outfit. Not sure how to address that one... $\endgroup$ – bvoyelr Oct 15 '19 at 13:35
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    $\begingroup$ @bvoyelr the big coat should help conceal it ;-) honestly, you'd be in the middle of a catastrophe, and there are a lot of other dead and dying and hypothermic people to deal with, and no-one will have a handy camera or really care about that one dude or dudette with a funny accent who looked a bit fat and didn't seem that chilly. Take a blanket, thank them, and tell them to deal with the other people who are more in need. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Oct 15 '19 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ An electrically heated wetsuit under your clothes would be barely noticeable considered the style of clothing. With everything going on, nobody would be looking that hard. A dry suit usually has gloves, boots and head coverings with would be harder to hide but would work better. $\endgroup$ – Thorne Oct 16 '19 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Thorne the gloves and boots would be easy to conceal (and the boots can be optional and the gloves often are) and the hood is always a separate component so can be left behind if you were feeling brave. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Oct 16 '19 at 10:54

The simplest way to ensure that you yourself - and as many others as possible- survive the Titanic disaster is to distract the forward lookout at the critical moment so that he does not give warning of the iceberg ahead until it is too late to turn the ship... if at all.

If the means by which you distract the lookout is to offer him the use of your period-appropriate 10×50 binoculars - there were no binoculars on board, as they had been forgotten - with a comment that you had seen that no-one was using them, and the ship's speed in these conditions was making you nervous, no-one could reproach you: you saw a matter that compromised safety, and you acted as expeditiously as possible to correct matters. You didn't approach the other crew in fear it would take them too long to pass the binoculars on to where they were needed, a fear that proved to be well founded, as the ship struck an iceberg right afterwards.

What will this do?

Instead of the Titanic grazing along the side of the iceberg, it will most likely impact head on, crumpling and breaching the bow compartment, and possibly the next compartment back, and transmitted shock may cause other leaks. However, the ship could remain afloat with the first several compartments completely flooded, and the ship's pumps could likely keep ahead of the minor leakage caused by shock.

It may be a close call, and the Titanic may settle quite deeply by the bow before it reaches equilibrium, so it is not impossible that the passengers may be put onto the lifeboats, especially as a direct impact will cause a lot of otherwise insignificant damage and minor injuries.

In the following investigation, it could be pointed out that the captain was driving the ship at a reckless speed given the conditions, and had the lookout done his job just moments earlier, the ship might have sunk as a result of a glancing impact rupturing many more compartments, plus the triple-screw design meaning that the ship could not turn as rapidly as an even-screw design.

So... the disaster happens... but most will survive, even if it is discovered that there were not enough lifeboats.

Failing that... bring and wear beneath your clothing a drysuit made for diving in Arctic conditions, and be sure to remain on-deck.

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    $\begingroup$ I often thought of this - the ship would've survived a head-on collision. With its bows stoved in it would've been written off, but would've stayed afloat and would even have been able to limp into New York a week late. The furore and loss of reputation for the White Star Line would've been immense, but the death toll would've been a fraction of the real thing. $\endgroup$ – Oscar Bravo Oct 15 '19 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ @OscarBravo "With its bows stoved in it would've been written off" that depends. Titanic's sister ship Olympic went through a lot and was kept in service until its age caught up with it. $\endgroup$ – Tom Lint Oct 15 '19 at 12:31
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    $\begingroup$ With this strategy, there is some risk that you will take on some of the blame for the crash. Even if you are not found legally at fault, you may be found guilty by the media. After all, people might believe, "if the lookout wasn't distracted, the iceberg could have been dodged entirely." $\endgroup$ – Brian Oct 15 '19 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ There is a potential dangerous side effect to this answer: Because of the scope of the Titanic disaster, the London Board of Trade regulations on ship safety were (eventually) replaced by the Safety of Life at Sea convention. One critical change was that a ship must have sufficient lifeboat space for all people on board, deployable to each side of the ship. (LBoT regs required ships of tonnage X and up to have lifeboat space for Y people [~900], and the Olympic class far exceeded that X.) $\endgroup$ – Codes with Hammer Oct 15 '19 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ (continued) So this approach might change history, causing SOLAS to be adopted much later or not at all. $\endgroup$ – Codes with Hammer Oct 15 '19 at 15:13

Locate crew member Jack Phillips, the ship's "senior wireless operator". Making a few changes to his timeline this evening will increase your chances of survival immensely. The general idea is that the SS Californian was in the vicinity and had the capacity to save essentially everyone on board the Titanic, if only they were aware of the disaster.

On that fateful evening, Phillips had a massive backlog of work. The ship's wireless operator was responsible both for sending and receiving "official" communication as well as personal messages sent by passengers; he was employed by the Marconi radio company (not a ship crewman) who charged a fee for these personal messages, so they were viewed as equal importance as ship-to-ship messages. Phillips spent many hours that evening transmitting overdue personal messages. The transmitter had broken the day before and he was a full day behind on sending these messages. The radio operator on board the Californian transmitted an ice warning at 10:55 PM. Since the Californian was relatively close and the relay station used for personal messages was far away (Newfoundland), the message from the Californian was significantly louder and was drowning out the signals coming in from the Newfoundland relay station. Phillips responded to the Californian's message with a snippy, aggravated "shut up!". The radio operator for the Californian responded to this rude response by shutting off his radio and going to bed for the night. He missed the Titanic's distress calls, and the next closest ship was too far away to respond in time.

You have several options here:

  • Eliminate Phillips' backlog so that he's less stressed and (ideally) can finish the personal messages well before 10PM. Break into his cabin and steal/destroy most of the messages in the outbox. For a less destructive option, explain to him that you just discovered that your three mischievous children have been writing numerous fake telegrams and dropping them into the messages box over the last several days. Apologize for their behavior and ask if you can skim through his outbox and pull out those that look like they were written by your children. Once he's given you access, remove and discard at least half the pile. He should now finish early and be alert and ready at the fateful hour, preventing the rude reply that sent the Californian's operator offline. Keeping them online for a mere half hour would enable them to pick up the initial distress call and respond immediately.
  • Disable the wireless transmitter in a way that you can reverse. The transmitter broke down the previous day, so it wouldn't be too surprising to Phillips if it broke down again. Do this as soon as possible. After Phillips gives up, reports the radio as broken, and goes to bed for the night, you'll sneak into the radio compartment and take his place. The Californian's ice warning comes in at 10:55 PM, so we know their radio operator was working until at least that point. Send a pre-emptive distress message around 10:30 PM. Use both the traditional "CQD" distress code as well as the new "SOS" distress code. By the time the ship hits the iceberg, the Californian should be close enough to shuttle you (and most everybody else) off of the Titanic via lifeboat.
  • Tamper with the radio in a way that leaves it operational, but either reduces the antenna's signal gain considerably or introduces low-level background noise. The goal is to reduce the ship's effective communication range. The Newfoundland relay station was roughly 375 miles away, which is close to the max range for the ship's radio. Cutting the radio's effective range down to ~275 miles means Phillips can't get bogged down with passenger messages, but still has plenty of range to communicate with other ships and send distress signals.
  • Chat up Phillips and talk about how you were in the Army signal corps until a few years ago. Ask whether the ship still has signal lanterns (it does), or if it's all been replaced by that newfangled wireless stuff. Remember where he says the signal lanterns are located. Around 11:10 PM, an officer aboard the Californian attempts to contact an unidentified ship in the distance (the Titanic) via signal lantern, but receives no reply. Man the signal lantern at that time and when you see the Californian's signal, reply. Identify your ship, request emergency assistance, and report your radio is down so they don't try to contact Phillips and get a different story (you haven't actually hit the iceberg yet).

With any of these options, you run the risk of not being able to access the ship's radio room. Fortunately, the radios of the time used relatively primitive "spark-gap" transmitters. It's not that difficult to build one yourself, especially if you have access to modern components (I assume you do since you have a time machine). The antenna for the radio system was a massive wire running between poles mounted at either end of the ship, with a wire running between the middle of the overhead wire and the radio room. If you disconnect that wire and attach it to your radio, you've essentially replaced the ship's onboard radio with your own and you're now the signal officer. Here's hoping you remember Morse code.

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    $\begingroup$ I would not recommend sending a pre-emptive distress signal. That's going to raise A LOT of questions during the inevitable investigation, like why there was a distress signal sent BEFORE the collision, or why the distress signal was sent AFTER Phillips went to bed, or why the transmitter suddenly started working again after it was disabled already. $\endgroup$ – Nzall Oct 16 '19 at 9:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Nzall The real distress call went out more than 35 minutes after the collision. Even changing things so that the distress call went out immediately and the Californian was still listening would boost survival odds immensely. If some things don't exactly line up, it's easy to chalk that up to the record keeper recording it wrong due to being distracted by the "not dying" part of the evening. $\endgroup$ – bta Oct 16 '19 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding bullet point 2, the historical record shows that Titanic did indeed transmit both CQD and SOS. (There are plenty of time traveler observation reports indicating that no time travelers were involved in the choice of which distress signal to send.) $\endgroup$ – Codes with Hammer Oct 17 '19 at 15:23
  1. Get in your time machine and leave.

  2. Bring your own dry suit and Arctic survival gear so you can go in the water without risking your life

  3. Bring your own inflatable life raft

  4. Lock the proper doors so the hoi poloi in steerage can’t get to the life boats, ensuring there is adequate room for you and no pushing and shoving

  5. Use the pistol you brought back with you to force crew members to launch a life boat or the captain’s gig early, before the impact so you are away and clear. Make sure to murder them before you leave so they can’t go whine to the Captain and change events

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    $\begingroup$ Why do you need the crew to launch a life boat? You brought your own raft. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang Oct 15 '19 at 12:38
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    $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang I presume these are all different options, as in "you could do one of these". $\endgroup$ – Inferry Oct 15 '19 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang what would you use the raft for, if you've already left in your time machine? $\endgroup$ – Nij Oct 16 '19 at 7:37

Well, from it sounds like, the lower decks for the poor folks were locked off which made it impossible to get outside. So, don't go there.

From what I've seen, the boat rose up and then cracked in half. The middle would be bad because you're going to end up plummeting into the water along with a whole mess of wood, metal, and screaming bodies. I don't recommend that either.

The prow rose the highest and that is probably not a roller coaster ride you would enjoy. If you don't have a way of bracing yourself, that is probably not a good place either.

The furthest part in the back is also probably bad because the impact with the iceberg is going to cause everything to shake violently and anyone on the rear decks are probably going swimming.

Likewise, large rooms filled with glass windows are going to be deadly as everything shatters. Not to mention you're going to have to walk through that.

Crowds in general are going to do what crowds do which means you get a fluid-like dynamics in the panic. This means that your danger is less being crushed by people. The biggest danger is when the "ripples" of people push back, you are most likely to be knocked off your feet. So, having some sort of wall to brace against will help with this too.

So, I'd say near the back and near the lifeboats. Somewhere relatively small and able to handle jostling, such as a linen closet or somewhere you can bounce off the walls, recover, and head to the boats right away.

If you are one of the first on the boat to help others, that would be best for getting on and out of there. I'd also make sure there were better supplies under the seats if you could.

Now, if you happen to fall in the water, I highly recommend you avoid massive wooden doors with just one person on them. They don't share and you are going to dramatically drown.

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    $\begingroup$ There is reason to believe that the breaking actually happened mostly under water, and the prow sank first, as the stern rose the highest. Here is well done illustrative CGI of the sinking. $\endgroup$ – Backup Plan Oct 15 '19 at 11:39
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    $\begingroup$ Are you the only person on the planet not to have seen the movie? It actually did a fairly faithful reconstruction of the sinking (we have extensive witness testimony of the events): The "prow" (front) sank first, the "impact" with the iceberg was a glancing blow that led to some vibration and rumbling but no great destruction, there was very little panic at least until the end. $\endgroup$ – Oscar Bravo Oct 15 '19 at 12:24

Get first class and dress as a rich woman of that time

First class women had the best chances of survival.
Get hold of a first class location and/or ticket.

Even if you are female, you need to get conforming clothes, your 21st century wear needs to be recognized as 100% female in an emergency, you cannot risk it.
If you are male, you also need to shave and you need to do it as soon as possible.

Your best chance for obtaining the needed clothes is kidnapping or seducing a drunk passenger from first class. In case you go for kidnapping, you can try going for a seasick first class female passenger.

If you get the chance to prepare for the journey, you go for Miss Edith Corse as to not interfere with the survivor list.

Source for chart. Chart source: https://rstudio-pubs-static.s3.amazonaws.com/185508_5c6b7ef40dd9438b82239c4b57ec9ab4.html

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    $\begingroup$ Oh no! All of the child laborers employed on the Titanic died? The monsters! :P $\endgroup$ – bvoyelr Oct 15 '19 at 13:48

You must demand entry aboard the SS Californian.

The Californian was roughly 5 miles away from the Titanic after it struck ice. Because it was so close, the idea of rescue was not out of the question. Therefore, you should volunteer to enter a life boat headed towards the Californian when they are first launched.

It is, however, well-known that the Californian ignored emergency rockets and the Marconi wireless operator was not at his station during the crisis. However you choose to convince Captain Stanley Lord is up to you.

  • $\begingroup$ Five miles is a long way to row a lifeboat. By the time you get there, get aboard, and get back, the Titanic will have sunk. $\endgroup$ – Mark Oct 15 '19 at 21:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark Why do you need to get back? $\endgroup$ – Azor Ahai Oct 15 '19 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ @AzorAhai, to bring the Californian with you. $\endgroup$ – Mark Oct 15 '19 at 23:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark The question doesn't ask how to save anyone but the OP $\endgroup$ – Azor Ahai Oct 15 '19 at 23:28

Find "Rose's door"

I mean this seriously, but figuratively.

In the movie, the floating door was how Rose survived. It was a literary device to allow a believable, yet unexpected way for her to live to tell her story.

Create "Rose's door" for your story. It could be a paddle, maybe some kind of semi-waterproof wrapping, a makeshift wetsuit, or even a buoyant bathtub. You might even survive by floating in your time machine itself.

That would be the "least likely to contaminate the timeline" while allowing you to be witness to more.

Think "fly on the wall", or "Rose on the door". Be creative and inventive.

Note on comedy:

If you are going for some comedy, you could make it an actual door, perhaps even drop a line, "I remember someone survived by floating on a door." Especially in time travel, some tongue-in-cheek humor makes the medicine go down. Comedy often plays a role in time travel, consider Back to the Future or Avengers: End Game where Captain America fights himself.

  1. Travel first-class (or if you're transporting directly onto the ship without a ticket, make every effort to look like a first-class passenger). This gives you a 62% chance of survival, compared to an overall 32%. Since you're a time traveler, I assume that you've already gotten rich from bringing back winning lottery numbers and stock quotes from the future, so this will be easy.
  2. If you're a woman, you've got it made, as long as you're on the boat deck while there are still lifeboats left to launch. If you're a man, then make sure to be on the starboard side of the ship, where Officer Murdoch was more willing to let men into boats than his counterpart Lightoller on the port side.
  3. If it's getting late in the sinking do not follow the crowd towards the stern, as they'll mostly be doomed. Instead, head forward towards the officer's quarters, where the four collapsible lifeboats are kept. These will be the last boats to leave the ship. Volunteer to help launch these boats, as the crew will be struggling with them.
  • $\begingroup$ point 3 about the crew lifeboats is excellent $\endgroup$ – Pureferret Oct 16 '19 at 14:15

I think the most reliable way to survive would be to get the radiation suit off (they're very good at helping people sink) and get back to the time-machine. You're wearing a radiation suit meaning at best you'll get funny looks from everyone - which while it might seem it won't matter (since most of them will die anyway) could seriously impact the timeline.

In addition, you don't actually need to jump too far. A jump of 30 minutes after the sinking will have you in the water just as the Caroathia is arriving.

The joy of this, is that it was pure luck that they were able to locate the survivors at all, since they had drifted and only a flare alerted the rescue teams to the new location. By making that jump just a little further; you can be the one that happened to look the right way at the right time to see the flare. (if one was ever launched!)


I would attempt to steal a lifeboat and depart from the ship prior to the accident.

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    $\begingroup$ There weren't any reports of such a thing happening, so that may fall afoul of the requiremen to avoid changing the timeline as much as possible. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Oct 16 '19 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ Because they had the correct number of lifeboats, you mean? $\endgroup$ – Innovine Oct 16 '19 at 22:08
  • $\begingroup$ As far as I'm aware, yes. I'd like to think that such a thing would have been noticed during the post-accident investigation, but I've no idea how reliable or thorough such things were. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Oct 17 '19 at 8:57
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime Titanic was only carrying two thirds of the maximum number of lifeboats, so there were already empty places on the deck. Several went down with the ship, and their location and condition were undetermined for many years.. OP may scuttle the boat after viewing the disaster, and no one would be the wiser. $\endgroup$ – Innovine Oct 17 '19 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Innovine: None of Titanic's lifeboats went down with the ship. A couple floated off the ship without being properly launched, but people were able to take refuge on them. $\endgroup$ – dan04 Oct 20 '19 at 15:31

Are you planning on coming back to your own time? If your time machine is on the Titanic then obviously it's going down with it. Unless you joined in port and the machine is there, in which case you're obviously having an extended visit during which you'll already have had to blend in during the journey, and will have to continue to do so until you can get back to Southampton/Cherbourg/Cobh to collect the machine.

In either case, the simplest answer would seem to be to research somebody who is known to have survived, including which lifeboat they were in (or how else they survived).

Kill them before the journey (if on board since port) or at least before the ship sinks (otherwise). Although the latter may not be necessary - perhaps the always drowned and you're the one recorded as having survived. Take their lifeboat seat, and you're safe.

If you're not planning on returning to your own time, you'll need to keep up the pretence of being this person, so best to choose someone you bear a physical resemblance to, without close family (maybe the whole family die on board?). If possible, make some previous reconnaissance trips to learn more about the individual, or even introduce yourself to some people as them in order to help maintain the fiction.

If you are planning to return, pick someone who was died shortly afterwards. This actually works out simpler if you've been on board since port, since you just kill them before the trip and stash the body, take the trip as them, then when you return to collect your time machine you leave there body to be discovered as it always was.

Finally, killing them before the trip rather than on board (or just letting them die in the sinking) is probably preferable since at least you know before you board that it's you that survives. Otherwise maybe something goes wrong and it is actually them, and you're lost with the ship.

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    $\begingroup$ Seems like overkill (literally) to murder someone for their seat on a lifeboat, considering that there were plenty of empty seats. Why not do some research to find one of the half-empty lifeboats and go there instead? $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang Oct 15 '19 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ Oh definitely, if the only goal is surviving. I was possibly focusing too much on the "changing the timeline as little as possible" aspect. Given there's a fair bit of detail about the survivors, adding a new one might have undesired repercussions $\endgroup$ – Mohirl Oct 15 '19 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ There were several Titanic passengers who were travelling under fake identities. Adding one more wouldn't change history that much. $\endgroup$ – dan04 Oct 20 '19 at 15:35

Titanic struck the iceberg at 23:40 local time.

  1. At 23:20, yell "Man overboard". Make as much noise to warn the bridge, namely First Officer Murdoch, that someone fell overboard and tried to die by suicide.

You can overstate your lie by alleging that you were trying to talk him/her out of suicide, but (s)he jumped anyways.

Murdoch would then order the ship to stop and find this person. If he does, then the Titanic would've stopped right before hitting the iceberg. And you can point to the iceberg that you saved everyone from!

I got this idea from Rose DeWitt's attempted suicide in the 1997 movie.

  1. Bring a LED flashlight that can output at least 53K lumens. Then at 23:30, go to the bow and shine it in front so that the lookouts and Officer Murdoch will see the iceberg.

Reddit has a video clip of such a flashlight. Does anyone know how to embed it in-line?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ The question text includes "One important thing I need to say is that I cannot under any circumstances stop the Titanic from hitting the iceberg." (emphasis added) $\endgroup$ – Nij Oct 16 '19 at 7:48
  • $\begingroup$ Even if this light reaches 2 km away would that be enough for the Titanic to stop? $\endgroup$ – gerrit Oct 16 '19 at 15:10

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