The following story is based upon real life accounts of life at sea. They appeared in the Scarborough Daily Post in 1920 as part of the 'Sea Dogs' stories by Forrest Frank.
In April we loaded and sailed for Port Augusta, Western Australia. John Husband was still in the ship as the senior apprentice, the other apprentice being WT Morley, Richard Clarke, and T Duke. I took R Crawford, boat builder as carpenter, W Lazenby as cook and steward and Woodall Atkinson as an AB.
We went along all night until we got out of the SE trade winds again, and began to run the castling down with our preciously heavy cargo of rails. One night it was pretty dirty, and going below to examine the cargo with the carpenter, I noticed that the tank hatch was leaking.
By an oversight of his it had not been properly battened. Next morning, on sounding one water tank, we found it brackish. To get more water I shall have to make a detour of 1500 miles before I would be back on my course again - for a visit to Mauritius meant all that - so the only other solution was to find some means of condensing.
Fortunately, we had a couple of copper coppers on board, which had originally fitted in the galley and discarded for metal ones. These coppers I connected with an old gun barrel for a pipe, which had to be kept cooled all the time with wet swabs.
When I attended to this work myself for 16 hours at a stretch one day I could only just condense a gallon of water per man, but when the swabbing and firing was left to the boys its production was reduced one half.
It was a tedious job for them, no doubt. Anyhow, we had favourable weather, and on arrival in port we had four inches of water in our tank.
The above story appeared in a series of articles by Forrest Frank in 1920 in the Scarborough Daily Post based upon interviews with Master Mariners