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William Falconer's Dictionary of the MarineReference Works
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WAD to WARP

WASH to WATER-LINES

WATER-LOGGED to WAY of a ship
WATER-LOGGED
WATER-SAIL
WATER-SHOT
WATER-SPOUT
WATER-WAY
WAVE
WAY of a ship

WEARING to WELL-ROOM

WHARF to WIND

WIND to WINDLASS

WINDSAIL to WRECK


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WATER-SPOUT

WATER-SPOUT, (echilon, Fr.) an extraordinary and dangerous meteor, consisting of a large mass of water, collected into a sort of column by the force of a whirlwind, and moved with rapidity along the surface of the sea.

A variety of authors have written on the cause and effects of these meteors, with different degrees of accuracy and probability. As it would be superfluous to enter minutely into their various conjectures, which are frequently grounded on erroneous principles, we shall content ourselves with selecting a few of the latest remarks; and which are apparently supported by philosophical reasoning.

Dr. Franklin, in his physical and meteorological observations, supposes a water-spout and a whirlwind to proceed from the same cause, their only difference being, that the latter passes over the land, and the former over the water. This opinion is coroborated by M. de la Pryme, in the Philosophical Transactions; where he describes two spouts observed at different times in Yorkshire, whole appearances in the air were exactly like those of the spouts at sea; and their effects the same as those of real whirlwinds.

Whirlwinds have generally a progressive as well as a circular motion; so had what is called the spout at Topham, described in the Transactions; and this also by its effects appears to have been a real whirlwind. Water-spouts have also a progressive motion, which is more or less rapid; being in some violent, and in others barely perceptible.

Whirlwinds generally rise after calms and great heats: the same is observed of water-spouts, which are therefore most frequent in the warm latitudes.

The wind blows every way from a large surrounding space to a whirlwind. Three vessels, employed in the whale-fishery, happening to be becalmed, lay in fight of each other, at about a league distance, and in the form of a triangle. After some time a water-spout appeared near the middle of the triangle; when a brisk gale arose, and every vessel made sail. It then appeared to them all by the trimming of their sails, and the course of each vessel, that the spout was to leeward of every one of them; and this observation was further confirmed by the comparing of accounts, when the different observers afterwards conferred about the subject. Hence whirlwinds and water-spouts agree in this particular likewise.

But if the same meteor, which appears a water-spout at sea, should, in its progressive motion, encounter and pass over land, and there produce all the phaenomena and effects of a whirlwind, it would afford a stronger conviction that a whirlwind and a water-spout are the same thing. An ingenious correspondent of Dr. Franklin gives one instance of this that fell within his own observation:

" I had often seen water-spouts at a distance, and heard many strange stories of them, but never knew any thing satisfactory of their nature or cause, until that which I saw at Antigua; which convinced me that a water-spout is a whirlwind, which becomes visible in all its dimensions by the water it carries up with it.


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© Derived from Thomas Cadell's new corrected edition, London: 1780, page 313, 2004
Published by South Seas, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-refs-falc-1478