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Old 03-04-2008, 10:26 PM   #1
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I had this emailed to me today and stopped to wonder if it would even be possible for a human to go without water as this suggests.

The U.S.S.

Constitution (Old Ironsides), as a combat vessel, carried 48,600 gallons

of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient

to last six months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no

evaporators (i.e. fresh water distillers!).

However, let it be

noted that according to her ship's log, "On July 27, 1798, the U.S.S.

Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and

men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of

black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum."

Her mission: "To destroy

and harass English shipping."


Jamaica on 6

October, she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum.

Then she headed for the Azores, arriving

there 12 November. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300

gallons of Portuguese wine.

On 18 November, she set sail for

England. In the

ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and

scuttled 12 English merchant ships, salvaging only the rum aboard each.

By 26 January, her powder and shot were exhausted. Nevertheless,

although unarmed she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde in

Scotland. Her landing

party captured a whisky distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons of

single malt Scotch aboard by dawn. Then she headed home.


U.S.S. Constitution arrived in Boston on

20 February,

1799, with no

cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, no wine, no whisky, and 38,600

gallons of water.

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Old 03-04-2008, 11:25 PM   #2
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Doing some of my own research, I found this very interesting web site that has written accounts of battles from both sides of the encounter. Very interesting reads!



What I find the most interesting is how they treat each other after a battle. They spend hours chasing each other, about 30 minutes raking and destroying beautiful wooden works of art, and the rest of the time cordially accepting surrender of prisoners with all of their belongings. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Master’s sat together for dinner after a day of battle.

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Old 03-05-2008, 05:09 PM   #3
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I am sure the usage of water was replaced by water catchment systems?
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Old 03-05-2008, 05:24 PM   #4
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It seems the email contains little that is factual, for example putting Old Ironsides on the wrong side of the Atlantic against the wrong adversary from its launching in 1798 to 1800.

I would also question the implication that only spirits were consumed, and no water. One of those "urban legend" emails, perhaps? Cute, though.
In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

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Old 03-05-2008, 05:47 PM   #5
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I can agree that the consumption of both wine and spirits was very high aboard ships in the past. Water tainted relatively rapidly in the casks it was carried in. On the other hand, the alcohol in wine and spirits kept them "fresh". I am sure that water was used whilst it was fresh and sweet and whenever rain could be caught.

My experience of ships in this pressent day and age tells me that most of the fresh water used aboard vessels is used for washing clothes as well as the crew and in the galley for cleaning pots and pans as well as cutlery and crockery. Given that hygien in the past was, in comparisson to persent days, non-existent the water consumption would be far lower than we coiuld expect today.

As for the story, as JeanneP said, "cute" but probably far from the truth.

Aye // Stephen
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