History

Nautical Dripstone

What is a nautical dripstone?

The Mutiny on The Bounty by Caroline Alexander contains this passage.

Intro – Millward is preparing the Boat the mutineers are going to put the Captain and officers in.

Text from book

While I was hauling the Main trusses taught, Alexr. Smith Came to me with a Cutlass in his hand, saying, “Take hold of this, Millward.” I asked him, what I was to do with it, to which he replied, “Never you mind, lay hold of it.” I took it and he left me; as soon as he was gone I went aft and stuck it in the lashing of the Dripstone and went to hook the tackle on the Boat and she was hoisted out; when she was out I Came aft to the Cabin hatchway to hand the things up that were to go into her.

Painting – Fletcher Christian and the mutineers set Lieutenant William Bligh and 18 others adrift; 1790 painting by Robert Dodd.

Anyone know what a Dripstone is?

Well we do now.

Thanks to Niall Rath’s Facebook answer.

Norfolk island dripstone

A dripstone was a simple water filter made from any suitable type of limestone or similar. The water had to be able to pass through it slowly. It could be used at sea and on land but only had a limited lifespan as it gets clogged up with the bits it filters out. Pretty much why filters are always needing to be replaced even today, think of the filters in an internal combustion engine.

Image from Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, New South Wales, Australia.
https://collection.maas.museum/object/216906?fbclid=IwAR25IRM7pn576hcag6Y6N-2RVeyZVDLxxYI-y85RkJpXZo0KeUjGZv65t_Q

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