Monday, August 23, 2010

Shooting Cannonballs at Waterspouts

The French fleet commanded by François-Joseph-Paul de Grasse repeatedly came into mortal danger. Perhaps the most unusual danger was a waterspout encountered while the fleet was traveling from Virginia to Martinique. The "Chevalier de Goussencourt" described in his journal the novel manner in which they attempted to protect themselves:

"On the 15th [of November, 1781] we saw a water-spout, a very considerable mass of air and water in the form of a truncated cone, which pumps up the sea till the volume of water outweighs that of air, when it bursts. The volume of a spout, as I was assured by several intelligent seamen, is enough to swamp the largest vessels. We fired two cannon balls at it to break it, but did not succeed, as we were too far off."


John Gilmary Shea (1864). The Operations of the French Fleet Under the Count de Grasse in 1781-2 as Described in Two Contemporary Journals.

1 comment: