1185. WATER. Masters should, if possible, have the purity of the ship's water guaranteed, or else send a trustworthy person to control the source of the supply. Ships occasionally obtain unwholesome WATER at Calcutta, where, unless well watched, the owners of the supply boats will pull out the plugs and deliver river water for the use of the men; the Hoogley is well known to be the receptacle of the dead all along its banks, and the crews of ships are often afflicted on the passage home, especially in the colder latitudes, with disease clearly traceable to the consumption of unwholesome water. According to the Passenger Act, 1855, each statute passenger and seaman is entitled to three quarts daily, in addition to at least ten gallons daily for cooking, for every hundred statute adults on board. When casks are used, they must be sweet and tight, of sufficient strength, and of wood properly charred inside, and capable severally of containing not more than 300 gallons each; the staves of the water casks are not to be made of fir, pine, or soft wood. By an order in Council, May 6, 1857, any "passenger ship" with steam power sufficient to propel her, without the aid of sails, at the rate of five miles per hour, may proceed with only half the quantity of water required by the above Act, provided, 1st — that she has an efficient apparatus for distilling fresh water from salt water; 2nd — that the owner, &c. lodges a certificate, declaring the apparatus to be in good condition, and the number of gallons which can be distilled in 24 hours; 3rd — that the Emigration Officer is satisfied therewith; and 4th — that there is on board a person competent to manage the apparatus. The calculation for the daily issue of water is usually as follows: crew 6 pints in cold water, 7 pints in hot weather; passengers and servants, one gallon each, to include washing and cooking; horse, 6 gallons; cow, 8 gallons; sheep, 1½ pints; pig, 2 quarts; one dozen fowls, 1½ pints; geese, 1 gallon; ducks, 1 quart.

1186. An experienced master says: when a large quantity of water has to be carried, the best plan is to have a couple of longers of tanks (400 gal), or casks, at the fore and after hatchways, and to rise them from the skin and carry them from wing to wing; stowing with them wet provisions (salt beef, port, &c.), you then may not only trim the ship, but admit the leakage to pass through without damaging cargo, and the water being towards the ends is better for lightening than in amidships. Beer, in wood, for troops, is also stowed with the water, or in the same place, for the above reasons, but generally at the after hatch. Capt. PARISH, E.I.Co. recommends that each cask should be well bunged up when emptied, which will not only prevent dirt from getting in, but, in case of any serious accident — such as collision or striking on rock — might be the means of keeping the ship afloat for days. Some masters recommend that water for ship's use should never be put below the main deck, as cargo is liable to be injured when taking out water stowed near.

1187. Mr. BRADY, U.S. Navy, says: previous to getting on board the tanks, a plan of stowing them may be easily arranged by means of rough models in wood, which a carpenter can readily make. In getting the tanks from the store, attention should be directed to the lid sockets, which if not properly lined with fearnought, will allow much of their contents to escape in rolling; as also to the obtaining the proper number of keys, and see that they are short enough to work between the decks and the tanks if the vessel is a small one. The screws for letting off the water require careful treatment, for they are apt if once started, never to be so tight again; and after being three or four years in use, the nuts decay, rendering the keys useless. Whitewashing tanks inside is found, by experience, to be highly useful in keeping water pure.

1188. Iron tanks for containing water are usually made to fit the run or any other part of the vessel. A naval officer recommends it as a good plan 'to stow tanks by fours, with the lids together, so that in clearing away to get at one tank, you clear away four' — see engraving. Fixed tanks, containing enough for the use of the crew, are now generally placed on the keelson, near the pump-well or chain locker; those required for passengers are mostly 4 feet cube, hold 400 gallons, are moveable, and are frequently sold in the colonies, when not required for the voyage home; but, if required, are often filled with merchandize, oils, &c. and are also used to contain biscuit. Tanks weigh 1½ to 2 lb. per gallon, according to their shape, and occupy, pro rata, about half the space of casks. When the interior corrodes, the water, by the motion of the ship, becomes discoloured, and is then termed "ship's port wine" by the seamen. In this condition it is not considered injurious, and can be completely filtered.* When tanks are fitted close, the timber underneath rots, especially after it becomes rusty. Leakage is often caused by keeping the hose on after the tank is filled. A Boston shipowner boxes off those parts which come between the tanks and the ship, and at stated periods inserts salt, which preserves the wood from rotting. If the large tanks are place in the centre of the ship, so as to bear on a limited surface, their weight may open the garboard streaks, especially if the wood has been previously weakened by the leakage of fresh water. All water tanks should be well scraped and washed and then whitewashed before re-filling. When stowing cargo against the water tanks, it is necessary to prevent injurious pressure; see wool.

* Water which appears quite putrid when first the bung is taken out of a cask, becomes sweetened by exposure to the air, in a few days or even hours. A pound of charcoal thrown into the cask of water, twelve hours before use, will purify it. Gutta percha piping is the cleanest and best material to be used when water is pumped from the tanks to the decks. [Back]
Robert White Stevens: On the Stowage of Ships and their Cargoes: with Information Regarding Freights, Charter-Parties, &c. &c.
Longmans, Green, Reader, & Dyer, London, 1869. pp 681-684

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

Sjöhistoriska Samfundet | The Maritime History Virtual Archives | Provisions.

Copyright © 1998 Lars Bruzelius.