1902 Encyclopedia > Lifeboat

Lifeboat




LIFEBOAT. It will be convenient to consider here, not the lifeboat simply, but also other means of saving life at sea. When it is borne in mind that the vast commerce of such a country as Great Britain extends to every part of the world, that the arrivals and departures from the ports of the country in one year average six hundred thousand vessels, that these are manned by more than two hundred thousand men and boys, and carry goods to the estimated value of six hundred millions sterling, with unknown thousands of passengers, that its seaboard is nearly 5000 miles in extent, many parts of it being exceed-ingly dangerous to shipping, that about two thousand wrecks occur every year on its shores, and above seven hundred lives are lost, the necessity that exists for a well-organized system of life-saving apparatus becomes very apparent. It is satisfactory to be able to add that this well-organized system is most efficiently provided by the Boyal National Lifeboat Institution, with its splendid fleet of two hundred and seventy-one lifeboats, and by the Bocket Service. The number of lives saved annually, either by the lifeboats or by special exertions for which the insti-tution has granted rewards, averages in round numbers nine hundred, and by far the greater proportion of these (four-fifths) are saved by lifeboats. These lifeboats, too, are the means of saving every year from twenty to thirty vessels which, owing to stress of weather, exhausted men, &c., would almost certainly have been lost but for the aid afforded by the fresh and experienced lifeboat crews.

The qualities of the lifeboat first deserve our attention. These are such that this boat is able to live in seas, and go into positions of danger, that would overwhelm ordinary boats or insure their destruction. Eight important quali-ties are possessed by it in a very high degree :—(1) buoyancy ; (2) great lateral stability, or resistance to up-setting ; (3) the power to right itself if upset; (4) the power of immediate self-discharge when filled with water; (5) strength; (6) stowage room for a large number of passengers; (7) speed against a heavy sea; (8) facility in launching and taking the shore.

The buoyancy of the institution's lifeboat, or its inability to sink, be it ever so deeply laden, is secured chiefly by means of a watertight deck or floor, air-cases round the sides inboard, and two large air-chambers, one in the bow, the other in the stern. The "extra buoyancy" thus obtained cannot be too great so long as it does not inter-fere with the space necessary for working the boat and stowing shipwrecked persons. The air-cases round the sides serve also to confine any water shipped to the centre of the boat, a point of great importance. There is an air-tight space between the boat's floor and its bottom, filled partly with air partly with cork-ballast, which gives it additional buoyancy, but the air-chambers above the floor would float the boat even if she were stove in and this space filled with water. In a 33-feet boat the buoyancy obtained by all its chambers is equal to 11J tons.

Stability is obtained chiefly by means of ballast. Im-mense difficulty was experienced in arriving at the present form of the institution's splendid boat, because qualities of differing value had to be sacrificed to each other in due proportion. Thus, while breadth of beam secured stability, it seriously interfered with the self-righting quality. Bal-last, therefore, in the form of a heavy iron keel, instead of breadth, became necessary to give the requisite stability.

Fig. 1 represents, let us say, the 33-feet, double-banked, ten-oared, self-righting, and self-emptying lifeboat of the institution on its transporting carriage, ready for launching; figs. 2 and 3, respectively, a section and a bird's-eye view of the same. The

FIG. ].— Ten-Oared Lifeboat.

breadth is 8 feet, with stowage room for forty-three persons—thirty passengers and thirteen of a crew. The festooned lines (fig. 1) enable people in the water to clamber inboard even without assist-ance. The shaded parts of figs. 2 and 3 show the position of the air-cases. The white oblong space in fig. 3 shows the free space available for crew and passengers. In fig. 2 are seen the depth to which the air-cases descend, and the height to which the bow and stern air-chambers ascend above the gunwale, also the ballast space between the floor and the keel.

The self-righting power is due to the large elevated air-chambers in bow and stern, coupled with great sheer, or rise fore and aft, of gunwale, to the iron keel, which weighs about 9 cwts. in a 33-feet boat, and to the air-cases and ballast, which latter weighs from 7 to 8 cwts. When the boat is upset it cannot rest on its two elevated air-chambers; it necessarily rolls on one side, then the heavy iron keel and ballast come into play and drag it back to its right position in a few seconds. This principle of self-righting was dis-covered—at all events first exhibited—at the end of last century, by the Rev. James Bremner of Orkney, but was not finally adopted till the middle of the present century.

The self-emptying quality depends chiefly on the well-known physical fact that water must find its level. The floor of the lifeboat (fig. 2, the dotted double line ex-tending from stem to stern), on which the men's feet rest when seated on the thwarts, is placed so as to be very slightly—2 or 3 inches—above the level of the sea when the boat is fully manned and loaded. In this floor there are six holes of 6 inches diameter, into which are fitted six metal tubes. These pass through the boat's bottom into the sea. The water of course enters them, but cannot rise above them into the boat, because it cannot rise above its own level. Valves at the upper ends of the tubes, opening downwards, prevent the annoyance of water spurt-ing in, but allow it freely to run out. When, then, a billow overwhelms the boat, and fills it, the water rushes violently down the discharging tubes until it reaches the sea-level; by that time it has descended below the level of the floor and left the boat empty. So complete and swift is the process that a filled boat frees herself in about half a minute. This principle was first applied by the institution in 1851. Lifeboats devoid of the self-discharging quality become temporarily useless when filled by a sea, as they can be emptied only by the slow and laborious process of baling.

Strength, that will enable the lifeboat to suffer treatment which no ordinary boat could stand, is dependent on peculiarity of construction and material. The best Hon-duras mahogany is used, and the diagonal plan of construc-tion adopted,-—that is, the boat has two distinct " skins " of planking, both sets of planks being laid on in a position diagonal to the boat's keel and contrary to each other, besides passing round from gunwale to gunwale under the boat instead of from stem to stern as in ordinary boats. The skins have a layer of prepared canvas between them, and thus great strength and elasticity are combined.
The carriage of the lifeboat is an essential adjunct for the purpose of conveying it over any kind of road or beach to the place where it may be required. It can be run deep into a raging surf, and the boat, with its crew seated and oars ready out, can be launched at once, by blocks and tackle, so as to enable the men to dash forward and meet the incoming rollers with sufficient force to propel it through or over the seas, and thus avoid the risk of being hurled back on the beach. Each lifeboat is furnished with a set of spare oars, as these are frequently broken.

The institution's lifeboats are of various sizes—six, eight, ten, and twelve oared,—and they are placed at various points of the coast according to the necessities of each station. Some are called out at long intervals; others, such as those near the Goodwin Sands, are constantly on duty in rough weather—that of Ramsgate having a steamer to attend on it, which lies in harbour, with its fires banked up, ready for instant action night and day. The average cost of a lifeboat station is £1000,— the boat and equip-ments, including belts and carriage, costing £650, and the boat-house £350. The. average annual expense of main-taining a station is £70, which is expended in paying the crew for going off and saving or attempting to save life from shipwreck, for exercising the lifeboat once a quarter, paying coxswain's salary, replacing gear, and repairs.

The lifebelt of the institution is a part of the equipment of the lifeboat which merits special attention, because it is a very efficient contrivance, and has been the means of saving many lives in time past. Fig. 4 shows its appearance and the manner in which it is worn. It was designed in 1854 by-Admiral J. R. Ward, the institution's chief inspector of lifeboats. It is made of cork fastened on canvas, and combines great buoyancy with strength and flexi-bility. It not only floats a heavily-clothed man head and shoulders above water, but enables him to support a comrade easily —the extra buoyancy being 25 lb. One of its distinctive features is its division at the waist, by which means great freedom of action is allowed. It serves also as a species of armour to protect the wearer's most vital parts from blows against rock or wreck, while it affords some degree of warmth. No man may serve in the lifeboats of the institution without it, and it would be well if every British ship were obliged to carry lifebelts of this kind.

History.—The first lifeboat was conceived and designed by Lionel Lukin, a London coachbuilder, in 1785. Encouraged in his philanthropic plans by the prince of Wales (George IV.), Lukin fitted up a Norway yawl as a lifeboat, took out a patent for it, and wrote a pamphlet descriptive of his " Insubmergible Boat." Buoy-ancy he obtained by means of a projecting gunwale of cork and air-chambers inside—one of these being at the bow, another at the stern. Stability he secured by a false iron keel. The self-righting and self-emptying principles he seems not to have thought of ; at all events he did not'compass them. Despite the patronage of the prince, Lukin went to his grave a neglected and disappointed man. But he was not altogether unsuccessful, for, at the request of the Rev. Dr Shairp, Lukin fitted up a coble as an " unimmergible" lifeboat, which was launched at Bamborough, saved several lives the first year, and afterwards saved many lives and much property.





Public apathy in regard to shipwreck was at length swept away by the wreck of the "Adventure" of Newcastle in 1789. This vessel was stranded only 300 yards from the shore, and her crew dropped, one by one, into the raging breakers in presence of thousands of spectators, none of whom dared to put off in an ordinary boat to the rescue. An excited meeting among the people of South Shields followed ; a committee was formed, and premiums weie offered for the best models of a lifeboat. This called forth many plans, of which those of William Wouldhave, a painter, and Henry Greathead, a boatbuilder, of South Shields, were selected. The committee awarded the prize to the latter, and, adopting the good points of both models, gave the order for the construction of their boat to Greathead. This boat was rendered buoyant by nearly 7 cwts. of cork, and had very raking stem and stern-posts, with great curvature of keel. It did good service in after years, and Greathead was well rewarded; nevertheless no other lifeboat was launched till 1798, when the duke of Northumberland ordered Greathead to build him a lifeboat which he endowed. This boat also did good service, and its noble owner ordered another in 1800 for Oporto. In the same year Mr Cathcart Dempster ordered one for St Andrews, where, two years later, it saved twelve lives. Thus the value of life-boats began to be recognized, and before the end of 1803 Greathead had built no fewer than thirty-one boats—eighteen for England, five for Scotland, and eight for foreign lands. That these boats were lamentably insufficient to meet the necessities of England was shown year after year by the ever enlarging record of wreck and loss of life on her shores ; nevertheless, public interest in lifeboats was not thoroughly aroused till 1823.

In that year Sir William Hillary, Bart., stood forth to champion the lifeboat cause. Sir William dwelt in the Isle of Man, had assisted with his own hand in the saving of three hundred and five lives, and felt the horrors of shipwreck so keenly that he resolved to stir up public men and the nation generally to a sense of their duty in regard to this matter. Eventually, in con-junction with two members of parliament—Mr Thomas Wilson and Mr George Hibbevt—he founded the " Royal National Institu-tion for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck." This, perhaps the grandest of England's charitable societies, and now named the "Royal National Lifeboat Institution," was founded on the 4th of March 1824. The king and many of the nobility and gentry patronized it. The archbishop of Canterbury presided at its birth ; the most eloquent men in the land—among them Wilberforce—pleaded the cause; the institution was launched under the most favourable auspices, and began its noble career with a sum of only £9826. In the first year twelve new lifeboats were built and placed at different stations, besides which thirty-nine lifeboats had been stationed on the British shores by benevolent individuals and by independent associations over which the institu-tion exercised no control though it often assisted them. In its iarly years the institution placed the mortar apparatus of Captain Manby at many stations, and provided for the wants of sailors and others saved from shipwreck. The latter duty is now efficiently discharged by the "Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners'Royal Benevolent Society." At the date of the institution's second report it had contributed to the saving of three hundred and forty-two lives, either by its own life-saving apparatus or by other means for which it had granted rewards. With fluctuating success, both as regards means and results, the institution continued its good work from year to year—saving many lives, and occasionally losing a few brave men in its tremendous battles with the sea. District or branch societies were established in most of the coast towns. Ultimately it began to be recognized that inland towns owed something to the lifeboat cause, as well as towns on the coast, and now such cities as Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, &c, have presented lifeboats to the institution and become annual contributors. Since the adoption of the self-righting boats, loss of life in the service has been comparatively small and infrequent.

Towards the middle of this century the lifeboat cause appeared to lose interest with the public, though the life-saving work was prosecuted with unremitting zeal, but the increasing loss of life by shipwreck, and a few unusually severe disasters to lifeboats, brought about the reorganization of the society in 1850. The late Prince Albert became vice-patron of the institution in conjunction with the late king of the Belgians, and afterwards Her Majesty the Queen, who had been its patron since her accession, became an annual contributor to its funds. About the same time its present secretary, Mr Richard Lewis, barrister-at-law, was appointed. The following year (1851) the duke of Northumberland became its president, and from that time forward a tide of prosperity set in which is literally unprecedented in the history of benevolent insti-tutions, both in regard to the great work accomplished and the pecuniary aid received. Its flow of prosperity has never since been checked. In 1850 its committee undertook the immediate superintendence of all the lifeboat work on the coasts, with the aid of local committees. Periodical inspections, quarterly exercise of crews, fixed rates of payments to coxswains and men, and quarterly reports were instituted, at the time when the self-righting self-emptying boat came into being. This boat was the result of a hundred-guinea prize, offered by the president, for the best model of a lifeboat, with another hundred to defray the cost of a boat built on the model chosen. In reply to the offer no fewer than two hundred and eighty models were sent in, not only from all parts of the United Kingdom, but from France, Germany, Holland, and the United States of America. The prize was gained by Mr James Beeching of Great Yarmouth, whose model, slightly modified by Mr Peake, one of the committee of inspection, became the foundation of the present boat, which, having been still further improved as time and experience have suggested, is now probably as near to perfection as can be attained.

The shortest way, perhaps, to exhibit the progressive work of the institution is to contrast the report of 1850 with that of 1880. In the former year the receipts had dwindled down to £84 of subscrip-tions and donations, which, with £270 of dividends (on a capital of £9000) and a balance of £476 on hand, gave an available income of £830. The expenditure was £590, and the lives saved were about one hundred. In 1880 donations and annual subscriptions amounted to £29,240; dividends and interest (on a capital of £231,000) amounted to £9266. The total income was £38,506, besides legacies in the same year to the amount of £40,782. The expenditure, including liabilities, was £40,586, and the number of lives saved was about seven hundred. In the past unusually disastrous year (1881), the institution has saved 966 lives by its boats, and granted rewards for the saving of 155 more, besides rescuing 33 vessels from destruction. The total number of lives saved either by the lifeboats, or by special exertions for which the institution has granted rewards, since its formation, is 28,724, for which services 95 gold medals, 939 silver medals, and £69,000 in cash have been granted as rewards. So highly are the servioes of the institution appreciated that donations of boats, gifts of money, acknowledgments, and legacies come in from nearly all quarters of the globe, in sums varying from a shilling to £10,000.





Rocket Apparatus.—This, next to the lifeboat, is the most important and successful means by which shipwrecked per-sons are rescued on the British shores. Many vessels are cast every year on the rocky parts of the coasts, under cliffs, where no lifeboat could be of service. In such places the rocket alone is available. It is worked by the men of the coastguard, with the aid, in a few places, of volunteer rocket brigades. The courage and skill displayed in its use are evinced by the saving of many lives every year, and by the fact that a large proportion of the medals given by the lifeboat institution for heroic conduct are awarded to the men of the coastguard, who, besides managing the rockets, frequently man the lifeboats and also effect rescues in their own boats. The number of lives saved by means of the rocket apparatus in the year ending 30th June 1881 was 657. This, however, is the greatest number saved in any one year since 1856, at which date the life-saving rocket apparatus was placed under the entire control and management of the Board of Trade. The rocket stations on the coast at the 30th June 1881 numbered 288. The Board of Trade now gives a sum of money for each life saved, besides awarding silver and bronze medals for acts of special gallantry.

The apparatus consists of five principal parts, viz., the rocket, the rocket-line, the whip, the hawser, and the sling lifebuoy. The mode of working it is as follows. A rocket, having a light line attached to it, is fired over the wreck. By means of this line the wrecked crew haul out the whip, which is a double or endless line, rove through a block with a tail attached to it. The tail-block, having been detached from the rocket-line, is fastened to a mast, or other portion of the wreck, high above the water. By means of the whip the rescuers haul off the hawser, to wdrieh is hung the travel-ling or sling lifebuoy. When one end of the hawser has been made fast to the mast, about 18 inches above the whip, and its other end to tackle fixed to an anchor on shore, the lifebuoy is run out by the rescuers, and the shipwrecked persons, getting into it one at a time, are hauled ashore. Sometimes, in cases of urgency, the lifebuoy is worked by means of the whip alone, without the hawser. A tally-board with instructions to wrecked crews, printed in English and French, is sent off with the whip, as ignorance in regard to the mode of working the apparatus has been the cause of much loss of life. Such ignorance is culpable, because the Board of Trade issues enamelled plates with instructions, which are supplied gratuitously to shipowners and masters to be placed on conspicuous parts of their vessels, and are fixed in public places along the British coast, while every certificated officer in the mercantile marine is required to understand the working of the rocket apparatus.

The late Captain G. W. Manby, F.R.S., in 1807 invented, or at least introduced, the mortar apparatus, on which the system of the rocket apparatus is founded. Previously, however, in 1791, the. idea of throwing a rope from a wreck to the shore by means of a shell from a mortar had occurred to Serjeant Bell of the Royal Artillery, and about the same time, to a Frenchman named La Fére, both of whom made successful experiments with their apparatus. In the same year (1807) a rocket was proposed by Mr Trengrouse of Helston in Cornwall, also a hand and lead line as means of communicating with vessels in distress. The heaving-cane, a fruit of the latter suggestion, is now used at every station in the kingdom. In 1814 forty-five mortar stations were established, and Manby received £2000, in addition to previous grants, in acknowledgment of the good service rendered by his invention. Mr John Dennett of Newport, Isle of Wight, introduced the rocket, which was afterwards extensively used. In 1826 four places in the Isle of Wight were supplied with Dennett's rockets, but it was not till after Government had taken the apparatus under its own control, in 1855, that the rocket now in use was adopted. It was invented by Colonel Boxer, and its peculiar characteristic lies in the com-bination of two rockets in one ease, one being a continuation of the other, so that, after the first compartment has carried the machine to its full elevation, the second gives it an additional impetus, whereby a great increase of range is obtained. The rocket has now entirely superseded the mortar in England.

The United States Life-Saving Service is chief among the lifeboat societies of other nations, both as regards the extent of coast embraced and the amount of work done. There are several points of difference between this service and that of England which are noteworthy. In the first place the whole or nearly the whole of its support is provided for by annual grants of money from Congress. Secondly, besides protecting its vast extent of seaboard, it has to provide for the shores of its great lakes, or fresh-water seas. Then, the coasts of America, unlike those of England, are destitute of human habitations in many places, which renders necessary the constant employment of surfmen for the express purpose of looking out for vessels in distress and manning the surf-boats. It also necessitates the erection of houses of refuge, provisioned so as to afford shelter and food to shipwrecked crews for a considerable time, at places where, without such provision, those who escape the sea would probably perish from hunger and exposure.

The shores of the United States—lakes and sea—are over 10,000 miles in extent, embracing almost every variety of climate and formation of land. This vast extent of coast-line is divided into 12 districts, with a total of 179 stations. Of these 139 are on the Atlantic, 34 on the lakes, and 6 on the Pacific. Those on the desolate coast of Florida are houses of refuge only, without boats or apparatus. Many of the stations are closed during the fine months of the year, their erews being disbanded till the winter gales again summon them to the heroic and dangerous work of saving the shipwrecked. That they render noble service in this way may be gathered from the annual reports. The report for 18 SO shows that the disasters to shipping in that year amounted to 300, that on board of the vessels thus endangered there were 1989 persons, of whom 1980 were saved and only 9 lost. The property imperilled at the same time was estimated at, in round numbers, £790,000, of which over £540,000 worth was saved, besides which, in one hundred and twenty-o'ght instances, stranded vessels were hove off, and piloted out of danger by the surfmen. The total number of lives saved by this service, since the introduction of the present system in 1871, to the close of the fiscal year in June 1881, was 11,864; the total number of persons sheltered 2610, and the number of days' shelter afforded 7350 ; the total value of property saved, $14,958,875.

Owing to the flat shores of the Atlantic coast, and the sparseness of the population, heavy boats are found unsuitable. Only a few boats on the English model exist in the service. The boats chiefly in use are surf-boats, incapable of self-righting, and liable to be swamped, but which nevertheless seem well suited for the work, and are admirably managed. They are very light, and can, on their transporting carriages, be easily dragged along the shore by their crews. The cork life-belts worn by the men are of the plan first designed in 1854 by Rear-Admiral Ward. For projecting a line over a stranded vessel, the Americans prefer the mortar, or other piece of ordnance, to the rocket. In addition to the travelling life-buoy, they use a metallic car, or small covered boat, which can hold three or four persons, who, entering it by a small manhole, are shut in and drawn ashore, safely protected from injury, even though overturned by the surf. This clever contrivance has been of great service in rescuing invalids, children, and aged persons. The total cost of the service is somewhere about £90,000 a year.

The history of the United States Life-Saving Service may be said to have begun in 1848, though half a century before that the Humane Society of Massachusetts had erected some huts of shelter and stationed some boats on the coast. In that year the United States Government was led to consider the subject of loss on their shores, chiefly through the energy of the Hon. W. A. Newell of New Jersey, a member of the House of Representatives. Captain Douglass Ottinger (the inventor of the life-car) was charged with the manage-ment and reconstruction of the service. The impetus given to it at this rime was never quite lost. Again, in 1854, renewed efforts were made to improve the service, but no great progress was made till the year 1871, when the present effective system was organized; new stations were built; the patrol system between the stations was introduced; the regular keeping of journals and sending in of reports was ordered; libraries for the use of the men were sent to stations; uniformity in signals was arranged, and a thorough reform in all departments accomplished.

The French Society for Saving Life from Shipioreek, modelled on the basis of the English system, is a vigorous and healthy offshoot. It continues steadily to extend its operations along the coasts of France, besides introducing its life-saving apparatus into Algeria and other colonies. It was founded in the year 1865, and from that year onward has continued to do good and ever-increasing service in the saving of life and property. At the date of its report ending 30th June 1881, its lifeboat stations numbered 62, and its mortar or other projectile stations 391. During the year its life-boats and gun apparatus had saved 209 lives and 16 ships, to which may be added 31 lives, for the saving of which the society had granted rewards. From the time of its commencement in 1865 to the above date it has rendered the following noble service :—

Lives saved by its own boats and apparatus 1,826
Lives saved by other means, for which the society )
granted rewards in gold, silver, and bronze medals, > 303 and cash )
Total of lives saved from the beginning 2jl29

Besides this it has saved 149 vessels and succoured 348, and has awarded 28 gold, 129 silver, and 319 bronze medals, 513 diplomes d'honneur, and about £20,400 in recompenses to those who have assisted in saving life in circumstances of unusual danger. It has also spent about £53,000 in the purchase and repair of its materiel. The receipts of the society show that its work is appreciated. At 31st December 1880 the subscriptions and donations together amounted to nearly £2600, and the legacies bequeathed to it the same year were about £1000. The boats chiefly used are built on the model of those of the English institution. The gun is preferred to the rocket in connexion with the life-saving apparatus. In addition to its direct work of saving life, the French society has accomplished much good indirectly by its influence. It has been instrumental in bringing about this result that, among the qualifica-tions for a captain's certificate in the French mercantile marine, a thorough knowledge in detail of the means of saving life from shipwreck is required. It has also laboured to extend the usefulness and reduce the cost of the gun and rocket apparatus, besides securing that this apparatus, on Mr Delvigne's system, shall be supplied to every ship of the French navy.

The German Association for tlie Rescue of Life from Shipwreck, under the patronage of the emperor "William, was founded at Kiel in May 1865, and is prosperous both in regard to its work and finances. It is maintained by voluntary contributions, and has 21 local branches on the coast and 27 in the interior, besides 149 agencies over the country. Previous to 1865 several private societies for saving life from shipwreck existed in the chief seaports of the North Sea and Baltic. These have been absorbed in the present association, the proceedings of which are reported in a paper entitled From Shore and Sea, published at Bremen once a quarter, and largely modelled on the Lifeboat Journal of the English institution. The association provides the whole extent of the German coast with life-saving apparatus. It has 74 lifeboat stations, 20 of which are provided with the mortar or rocket apparatus. With these means it has, in the year 1880-81, saved 122 lives and 2 ships. The total number of human lives saved by the association since its commencement is 1184. From May 1880 to May 1881 the amount subscribed by its members was £57,000. As in America, the heavy self-righting and self-emptying boats of England have been found unsuitable to the thinly peopled and flat sandy beaches of Germany. Lighter and shallower boats have therefore been adopted. These are iron-plated and not self-righting, but almost impossible to cap-size. The stations are visited at least once a year by an inspector, and the whole system seems to be well regulated and thoroughly efficient.

In addition to the above, lifeboat societies or other lifeboat organizations—formed more or less on the basis of the National Lifeboat Institution of Great Britain—are to be found in Russia, Italy, and Spain.

Life-saving Hammocks, &c.—Various forms of buoyant mattresses, pillows, and india-rubber cloth life jackets and belts have been con-trived. Among these may be specially mentioned the air lifebelt of Admiral Ward, which has four compartments, separately inflated, so that the puncture of one does not quite destroy the belt. Admiral Ryder's hammock also deserves notice. Its virtue lies simply in a cork mattress, which, when rolled up in its hammock, forms an efficient lifebuoy capable of supporting a man with his head and shoulders well above water, and it enables three men to float in an upright position. Cork mattresses are said to be cheaper and more comfortable than those stuffed with hair. Two such hammocks lashed together, about 20 inches apart, will enable two or three men to propel themselves easily through the water. The advantage of having such mattresses in a ship is obvious, for every one on board would be thus provided with a life-preserver.

It has also been suggested that the cushions of deck and cabin seats should, in a similar way, be made life-preservers, and that cabin furniture should be constructed so as to form rafts in cases of emergency. It is well to know, on the authority of the Philosophical Magazine (vol. xx. p. 362), that even a hat tied in a pocket handkerchief and held with the crown downwards may help to sustain a drowning man. It need scarcely be added that empty water-casks, tightly bunged, with ropes arranged for clinging to, form pretty good life-preservers. (R. M. B.)



The above article was written by R. M. Ballantyne, author of The Lifeboat.




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