Of course, those sailors had only been able to desalinate that water, to take the salt out of it, then they could have drunk it.
The basic process of converting seawater to drinking water is ancient, but doing this on a large scale is difficult and expensive.
And the fact that more than 70 percent of earth is covered by ocean inspires scientists to keep on trying.
With California experiencing one of the worst droughts in the state's history, access to fresh water has never been more important or more difficult.
Here in Southern California the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere is being constructed.
It will soon take water from the ocean and create 50 million gallons of fresh water a day.
Californiais in a serious drought right now, and any new water supplies are important to the region.
We have a $190 billion economy in this region.
It's dependent on water.
The question you need to consider is what's the cost of not having enough water.
Unlike, let's say, water that comes from rainfall or water that comes from snowpack, we are utilizing what essentially is the world's largest reservoir, the Pacific Ocean.
The Carlsbad desalination plant will cost approximately $1 billion.
The fresh water will be pumped ten miles underground to a regional delivery system.
Providing water to an additional 300,000 San Diego County residents.
Customers, they won't know whether they are drinking desalinated water or not.
It will just become part of the overall supply.
Through a process called reverse osmosis, the plant will convert every two gallons of seawater into one gallon of fresh water, filtering out 99.9 percent of the salt.
The salt, or brine that's removed is discharged back into the ocean.
The desalination process traditionally takes a lot of energy.
A plant this size would normally use as much energy in a single day as 70 homes in a year.
Officials at the Carlsbad plant say theirs will use 46 percent less energy.
The project is not without criticism.
Environmentalists point out that desalination requires a lot of energy, and that brine discharge can negatively impact marine life.
We are creating more marine in the south in the San Diego Bay to create new habitats where fish can reproduce there.
To the respect of the brine discharge, we dilute the brine with seawater before.
The plant is expected to be competed in 2016.
And everybody is extremely excited to see this project coming on line and providing us with new water supplies.