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Ron, I assume that you're talking about wooden ships.  The waterway actually guides any small amounts of water along the deck and the scuppers run through the waterway at deck level and take the water outboard.

 

On an iron or steel built ship with wooden decks the wooden deck sits on top of the metal deck nd the waterway is a form of gutter along the edge formed by the outer edge of the deck plates.

 

John

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There are different profiles and the waterways may actually be composed of several pieces of wood in cases. The basic objective is to turn what would be an acute angle between the deck and bulwark into an obtuse angle. Acute angles would collect water, which then can lead to rot.

 

The same logic applies to iron- or steel-ships. Here the gutter is formed often by two angle-irons running along the edge of the deck at some distance apart. One angle buts against the bulwark, the other forms a frame for the wooden deck (as noted above). The space between the angle irons typically is filled with cement to form a rounded gutter. This also prevent water from collecting in the corners of the angle-irons.

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On 1/12/2022 at 9:46 PM, Jim Lad said:

Wefalck, do you have an example of the 'rounded' waterway on a steel built ship?  I've never seen it.

 

John

John, I had a quick look into my mid-19th to early 20th century textbooks on iron shipbuilding, but didn't find any drawings. However, it is mentioned in the text at several places.

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