Another item of note is that sound travels remarkable distances over calm water. On the bridge of the Californian they could faintly hear music coming from the Titanic.
Wallace Heartly and his band gathered on the deck of the sinking liner and played up-beat ragtime tunes that were popular at the time. The idea was to try to keep the passengers calm even as the ship was sinking out from under them.
With the band playing ragtime the white rockets might be mistaken for fireworks launched during a party.
I’m NOT making excuses for the actions of the crew of the Californian. Even so, looking at these events in real time – even though a century later – it does put a different spin on what thy might have been thinking at the time. As much as I’ve read about and studied these events over the years since I became interested in all things Titanic I have never really viewed Californian in this light before.