We all know about the Titanic by now. Almost to the point where you have to feel bad for the disaster itself. For over a century, it's been the standard screw-up for people to reference. When you think about human hubris on the grandest scale, you might quickly land on the ship that told Poseiden, "lol, u mad?" I think it might be time to hang that one up for the next century. Maybe just find some story about a dude who shit himself. Like, REALLY shit himself, though. You know? Publically. Maybe at a funeral or something? Just blew out his black slacks while kneeling at the open casket. Pulled down the casket in his frantic attempt to stop the flow. Soaked the dead guy in poop and slipped across his own crap slick straight through a stained glass window. This story has to have happened, and the shitty poop slip funeral guy has to become our new Titanic. 

But for now, we haven't tracked this story down yet, so we'll keep on throwing those frozen souls out there to conjure up the image of a great disaster. Yet, even though we've heard everything there is to hear about the events themselves, there remains a handful of facts that have somehow flown under the radar of one of history's most terrible incidents that are well worth bringing back up to the surface ...

The Captain Failed his Navigation Test

Remember how nervous you were when you went to take your driving exam? You were about to try parallel parking while a DMV employee with a comb-over and a Fanta bottle filled mostly with vodka watched your every move, and it felt like the biggest day of your life. Blow that up by about a million, and I'd assume you have the stakes for the navigation test for a boat captain. Captain Edward John Smith has certainly become a legend since the incident -- mostly for the fact that he famously went down with the ship and also because he is the dude that plowed into an iceberg and led to a literal boatload of deaths -- but he very well could not have been put in charge had his first failure thrown him off course. On his very first attempt at doing the whole captain thing, Smith bombed the navigation test. It's a shame he didn't find another hobby right after those results came back.

Via Wikimedia Commons

"I'm going to be straight up with you guys: I have no clue what I'm doing."

Though it's hard to pile on somebody for failing their first attempt at something, this does bring up one of the many what-ifs of the entire Titanic disaster. What if Smith had taken this failure really hard and just given up? Would he have found another career, and world history have been completely altered? Or, would he have just taken something else up and screwed the pooch on an even grander scale? 

Straight F's across the board on the big boat driving test, that's fine, I get it, maybe boat captaining is not for him. So Smith wonders what else he can do; how else he can impact the world. It hits. Bridge-building. He's going to construct a transatlantic super bridge that spans from London to New York. Sure, he goes on to fail "How to build bridges without killing everyone on the bridge test #1" 16 times before passing, but he passes goddamit. And to unveil his cool ass new bridge, he invites half the population of London and half the city of New York to pile onto the bridge and jump up and down to test out how cool and strong his cool, strong bridge is. They jump. It breaks. They're all eaten by Kraken that were awaken from the Atlantic muck because of the massive bridge-building process, and Smith fades quietly into the background to eyeball the "World oxygenation multiple choice test #1" sitting on his desk.

The Boat May Have Been On Fire the Entire Voyage

It's pretty common knowledge by now that the Titanic was ripping. One of the contributing factors to the disaster seems to be that the boat was hauling ass at a speed that was both not super smart and also really not ideal for ramming icebergs. But one expert on the wreck believes that there was another reason besides the vanity of reaching New York in a hurry behind the speed: the boat was on fire. Evidently, there is very good reason to believe that an uncontrollable coal fire was raging in coal bunker number six that had been going for at least 10 days before they ever hit the iceberg. Making matters worse, it's believed that those in charge knew about the fire and proceeded with the journey anyway, simply instructing those involved to pick up the pace and get that nautical Burning Man to New York before it blew clean up.

New York Tribune, via Smithsonian

"We need something cold and wet to extinguish this fire!  Everybody look out for some ice..."

It's hard to imagine that this kind of unseen disaster isn't also happening on every hell ship that is shuttling obese Midwesterners around the Caribbean, too. While you're on deck pissing in that pool listening to Kid Rock and dropping your shrimp cocktail into your chest hair, there's a team down below fighting a horde of Guinea Pigs that one passenger snuck aboard, trying to frantically throw them overboard as they multiply and nibble on the ship's vital wiring. It just so happens that on the Titanic, everyone cavorting above had no idea that a team was below, just barely keeping the thing from blowing up and doing everything they could to control the fire. The more you read about this ship, the more you get the sense that there was a very thin layer of curtain that encircled the passengers, making them feel like everything was fine, but if you just took one little peak back there, you'd see the portal to hell that was really waiting to swallow all of you up in no time.

A Baker Survived By Getting Shitfaced

Some people just get it. No matter the situation, no matter how intense it can be, these people are able to slow things down and just stay calm, cool, and collected. Some people, very few of them, are like this in spades. They're people like Charles Joughin, the chief baker aboard the Titanic. People like Charles Joughin, who was off-the-clock and getting relaxing drunk when the iceberg hit, choose not to fill the rising icy waters with some warm pee of their own; they get shit done.

Joughin's legendary story goes something like this: Titanic hits the iceberg, people start freaking out, Joughin takes charges and gets many onto lifeboats, even just chucking people already in the water some things to float on. All this, while still making multiple pitstops to his cabin to chug booze and kind of kick it for a bit. Then, with all of the lifeboats gone, he'd go back down below and keep drinking until the boat was really screwed and started sinking. 

From there? Screw it. It was time to just ride the stern of the ship down like a dumbwaiter and slowly lower into the icy waters and just calmly (drunkenly) paddle around for a while to see what happened. Everyone around him drowning and flailing? Yep. Joughin? Nah. Just feeling pretty toasty from the booze and waded for a few hours until somebody picked him up.

Via Wikimedia Commons

That's the face of a man who knows how to handle his booze.

The man was a pro. He paced himself just right. He wasn't too shitfaced that he just sunk to the bottom or made completely outrageous choices out there, but he also wasn't sober like the rest of those idiots who just lost their shit and splashed around. He was in the sweet spot. Probably one more drink, and he'd have just passed out in his cabin, but hell no. Charles was ready for this moment. All of these details came out during the subsequent inquiries into the wreck itself, where Joughin laid out the perfect plan for any of us should we find ourselves in a similar situation. Is the plane you're on going down? Head to the cart, suck back six. Not five. And definitely not seven. But SIX mini Jack Daniels, kick out the emergency door, and Teen Wolf on top of that thing as you make it out unscathed while the rest of the sober idiots go down with the ship. In the face of disaster, be Charles Joughin. Be drunk as hell.

There Might Be Some Finely Aged Cheese Down There

Titanic Cheese. The true gold standard. Screw your thousand-dollar bottles of wine or Wagyu beef. If I ever made it big, the very first thing I would do is send a team of divers down to the wreck to go and scavenge my ass some fine Titanic Cheese to nibble on. According to a biologist who studied the wreck, he believes there may have been some preserved brie hanging around in boxes around the time that the wreck was discovered that we straight up left down there to go to waste. 

There is something about the idea of Titanic Cheese that just makes me so happy. I want to believe someone out there has their hands on this stuff and is waiting for the perfect moment to take a bite. Like how you know there are people out there just sitting on treasure troves of stolen artwork or priceless religious artifacts that have been in the family for centuries. Somewhere out there, someone got their hands on that Titanic Cheese, and I'm going to find them. As a matter of fact, I'd wager it's that James Cameron that is holding on to it. Why else would he have gotten so into diving and the oceans and all that shit if it wasn't just to throw on a bunch of scuba gear and go diving for the brie from a truly awful human disaster? What, then, is the point of becoming mega-wealthy if you don't spend every last cent and every waking moment trying to hunt down cheeses that have been seasoned by a century of underwater ghosts howling in agony for release from their frozen tomb? I will get my hands on some Titanic Cheese if it's the last thing I do in my goddamn life.

There Have Been Some Stupid Ideas For Raising the Thing

It's hard to believe that the Titanic is still just sitting down there. I can't fathom how we don't have the technology or manpower to pull it out by now, but then I go on and read about some of our brightest mind's biggest ideas for doing so, and I start to think it might just be best left off at the bottom of the sea. Most of the ideas read like ideas your drunk uncle might throw out for getting a confused toddler off of a roof at a backyard barbeque. "You try just gettin' a buncha birds over here and kind of flyin' over and making a basket and bringin' him down, then? Like crows or ravens or some shit? They're supposed to be smart as hell."

NOAA

"Please just leave me be."

One of the best ideas is to fill the wreck with ping pong balls and let it float up to the surface. Because, you know, there is nothing easier than diving to the bottom of freezing waters with what would have to be at least a billion little plastic ping pong balls. Can't believe we haven't just gone and done this one yet; it seems so obvious and easy. Another idea calls for, basically, another iceberg -- turning it into another hunk of ice and floating it up to the surface that way, because if there's one thing this haunted ship needs is another reminder about the whole big block of ice thing. Of course, your drunk uncle came back with another idea to simply scoop it on out of there. "How about magnets? Y'all try my magnet thing yet? Just grab a few and hover over it and see what happens. Christ, can't be that hard." 

Arguably the best idea was one proposed right after it sank, which involved blowing it up so that the son of the richest man aboard could float his dead father's body up to the surface. Because that's how explosions and bodies and all of that works for sure. If one thing is clear from all of this, it's that putting people into a room to come up with ideas for raising the Titanic turns them into monkey-brained idiots, and I want to see an entire television show where people just earnestly pitch their best ideas.

Top image: NOAA, Robert John Welch

Break Your Doomscrolling Habit

Sign up for the One Cracked Fact newsletter now and get exclusive knowledge + links to the best from Cracked sent directly to your inbox everyday!

Forgot Password?