On keeping a clean Bottom.

THE great difference this makes in a ship steering, working, and sailing, makes it a matter of such importance, that all possible means should be used to prevent the ship's bottom from growing foul, and the best method that I have experienced for this purpose is to be provided with what I call a cask scrubber, as represented in plate 9, fig. A, which I have often used in different ships with success when at an anchor, and in calm weather on the open ocean. I had these scrubbers made of elm board about an inch thick and twelve broad, the middle part of the frame just to fit a ten gallon cask, that was lashed to the battens at each end, and the long square spaces on each side of the cask filled with birch broom stuff projecting about six inches without the frame, and wedged fast towards the ends with long wedges against boards that slides with small tenants at each end in a groove to keep the birch fast and firm, for scrubbing the bottom, even close down to the keel, and the iron work which unites the two parts by a joint that they may the more naturally play to the curved or rounding parts of the ship's bottom, with the slings and the ropes fastened to the eye bolts, may all be perceived and understood by looking with attention at the figure that represents that side of the scrubber that is hauled next to the ship's bottom.

In using this cask-scrubber we had a block lashed under the bowsprit end, and another on the driver boom rigged out right aft, and a single rope reeved in these blocks, and made fast to the slings marked 1, 2, in the figure, and just long enough to veer and haul the scrubber along the bottom fore and aft close to the keel, another rope bent to the lower part of the scrubber, as marked 3, and hauled tight under the bottom, and made fast to the inside of the boat's main thoft, when the upper part of the scrubber is even with the water's edge a midships on the other side, then the people was ordered to walk fore and aft with the rope to the scrubber, till it came up to the water's edge each way, the boat moving the same way with the scrubber, the people in her helping by pushing their hand against the ship's side, till the first depth is thought to be clean enough, then the people in the boat hauls by their rope the scrubber a depth lower, by which, and the empty casks, it is confined and pressed to the bottom at the different depths, till it is scrubbed clean down to and even the keel itself, by the rope going fore and aft under it.

When a ship's bottom can be kept clean by such easy means, I think it should be reckoned a great reproach to those who neglect it, because success may depend upon it, not only in time of war, but in peace on southern voyages, especially in the African slave trade, where I have known a ship that lost the whole adventure of her voyage, and came with her bottom covered all over with clusters of mixed shell-fish, projecting from the bottom, and in diameter about six inches each, made up of large barnacles, mussles, and oisters, as represented fig. B. plate 9, which naturally increased greatly the surface and stop-waters of the bottom to hinder the ship from sailing one half the distance more than she might have done, had her bottom been kept clean as abovementioned, consequently made her passages in half the time, which might have made a gaining instead of so great a loosing voyage; for which reasons, rather than such a necessary work should be neglected, I think it should be made a part of the commanders instructions to do it when it cannot be done by other more effectual means. And where iron work is not provided to make a scrubber of this sort of two parts as above mentioned. I have thought that one part might be made to answer the purpose, and slung with ropes without any iron work.

Hutchinson, William: A Treatise on Practical Seamanship; with Hints and Remarks Relating Thereto: Designed to Contribute Something towards Fixing Rules upon Philosophical and Rational Principles; to Make Ships, and the Management of Them; and also Navigation, in General, more Perfect, and Consequently less Dangerous and Destructive to Health, Lives, and Property.
Printed for the Author, Liverpool, 1777. pp 171-172.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius.

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