Some things are obviously understood slowly. Fresh water is essential. After we had packed plenty of pieces of ice on departure, we probably lost sight of the warning that there was not more than one liter of fresh water per day for personal use. Until Bahia Blanca, we got almost five liters a day and now almost nothing. They did not tell us, the youngsters of the ship, why water was so scarce. Anyway there was only enough left to brush your teeth twice a day.
A first rumbling was however not to be overheard. Even the captain seemed to be aware of this. Although we should sail the doldrums without the use of the engine for reasons of economy, all hands were ordered on deck and we were told how “water seeking” should be done.
„One lookout into each mast”, they called “Your task: looking for rain clouds!” Then steam with full engine power toward those massive clouds in 25 nautical miles distance.
Upon arrival there were at least four men on each Royal yard, armed with an arsenal of powerful fireworks (VCs) from Hong Kong, while the others are placed with collecting buckets at water collection stations and will hopefully soon pour their filled buckets in waiting barrels.
The first storm cloud we reached already during the lunch break. “All hands on their positions!” On command each of the 12 top guests should shoot three fireworks into the cloud. The first volley went off. Abruptly the cloud dribbled a little bit, just enough to prevent the ignition of additional VCs. Quickly the cloud moved on. When it was three miles away, it poured its water into the sea and it seemed to grin. We investigated another cloud. This lasted until late afternoon.
Within a minute, we shot infernal fireworks into the cloud. No drop of rain prevented the procedure, because next to each of the 12 top guests there was now an assistant with umbrella. Well it worked. Initially, sparse, but the a flash flood came over us.
The men standing on deck accumulated water into the buckets held ready. But after just six minutes of rain, the blessing was over. This resulted in a yield of 120 meager buckets. The men came from the top on deck – drenched – only when they could contribute nothing more to collecting rain.
Nevertheless, good advice was not expensive. The captain said clearly: “That must be enough!” Nobody complained or bitched any more.