Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ship shape, shit out, or ship out

Ship shape, shit out, or ship out
It takes guts to write about one of life's sacred subjects, and it takes guts to make it.
For thousands of years the taboo subject has brought hours of discussions, and in many circles, hours of enjoyment, hard to imagine but true.
Lets start at the beginning, well not at the eating part, but historically. The origin of the English word "Shit" comes from a shipping back ground, when the early merchant ships that transported fertilizer, or manure across the oceans, found that this valuable product if made wet would produce a flammable gas which we all know as methane, well as the manure was placed deep in the holds of ships to keep the weight low, on a rough passage these old timber ships would leak, and the manure would sometimes get wet. Well you can just imagine the situation that a night watchman doing his rounds below deck with a candle lantern to check the cargo holds on a difficult passage would certainly have got more than he bargained for when on entering a hold space he would blow himself and the ship to pieces ! opps that was a bad day ! the build up of methane in an area became explosive.
So, after a number of ships went missing some bright spark, probably back at Lloyds of London who were underwriting  the ships realised the problem, and new instructions for shipping evolved. Any vessel transporting manure were instructed to place all cargo of manure above the weather deck (not in a confined hold) so that if it became wet, then the gas released would harmlessly go over the side. All packages were clearly marked " Ship High In Transit" and hence the word Shit came about.
But for hundreds, if not thousands of years our personal issues with shit, especially if you make passage on board any floating boat can be problematic. The fact that getting your sea legs also means getting your shit together can be a painful experience.
It's quite normal that the different movement of a ship and lack of experience of most humans when they first set off, strangely upsets the body clock and the internal plumbing, well the result is normally a few days of constipation and an uncomfortable, bloated or painful feeling.
During this period, well there are many a sailors jokes that come about, of course all in good fun, but those suffering may not be laughing quite so hard. Did you hear about the Irish mathematician who had constipation............? he worked it out with a pencil.
As a young lad, I was always told that it didn't matter how much money you had, because every ones shit stinks, and as a long term sailor who has taken many people of all walks of life to sea I can attest to this being true. So the reality about shit and the methane has conjured up some sayings over the years, like.."you have to move the mass that creates the gas" just one that springs to mind.
Most folk after a few days slip back into a daily routine and the problem is solved, however there are exceptions, and I can vouch for one bad case where the person who had over taken sea sickness tablets informed me after 11 days of their problem, 2 days later after no success we had to evacuate them.
But it can be a right old laugh in the first few days at sea, when the on deck banter is suddenly stopped by the sound of a "deck frog" the noise that a fart makes coming through wet weather gear, it's a kind of a Burrrrrrrrrrrt froggish sort of a sound, I suppose that why my Henri Lloyd sailing gear has reinforced fabric on the pants, god bless them for the attention to detail.


No comments:

Post a Comment