Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/511

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WHY A FILM OF OIL CAN CALM THE SEA. 495

small canvas bag with oakum, saturated with the same kind of oil, and towed it by a line from the weather bow of the vessel so that it would drift several fathoms to windward. The vessel now rode much more easily and could be kept head to sea. Moreover, no water came on board, and the sea was without breaking crests for thirty yards to windward of her. I feel no hesitancy in stat- ing that, with the proper use of oil, I shall be perfectly willing to encounter the hardest gale that ever blew ; and intend at the first opportunity, to stop the engines, place several oil bags to wind- ward, and let the vessel drift as she will. I feel sure that the vessel will be safe under these conditions."

Captain Bower, while on a voyage from New York to the Medi- terranean last December in the steamship Ponca, encountered a strong gale with very high seas. He says: "The vessel was deeply laden with grain and became unmanageable. We were running before the seas and shipping large quantities of water, until two small bags filled with colza oil were put over on each side of the bridge. This oil was found to be too light and of little use; but after olive oil was put in the bags no more water was shipped and the decks became almost as dry as in fine weather, although the gale continued for two days. The vessel was draw- ing twenty-six and a half feet of water, and, if we had not used oil, I do not think she could have withstood the storm."

Captain William Peake, master of the schooner J. F. Krantz, while making a passage from Port Spain, Trinidad, to Boston, met a terrific gale off Cape Hatteras and had the following experience: "The sails were blown away, men washed from the pumps, and boats and other things above the deck wrecked by the heavy seas. I was compelled to head southward and scud under bare poles. Then I thought of oil, and determined to see what effect it would have on the sea. Two wooden, ten-gallon kegs, containing boiled linseed oil, were lashed to the quarters of the vessel. The oil was allowed to ooze out through two small holes in the heads of the kegs. The effect was all that could be desired. After the oil had spread, no water came on board, the men returned to the pumps, the vessel was pumped out, and the decks were cleaned up. Dur- ing the sixteen hours in which oil was used eight gallons were expended."

An examination of thousands of reports like the preceding ones demonstrates that a small quantity, say two quarts per hour, of the thick and heavy oils, especially those of animal and vege- table origin, when allowed to drop into the sea soon spreads over its surface, forming an oily layer within the area of which the waves, instead of breaking, become huge rollers upon which the vessels rise and fall without shocks and without shipping any water.