The time interval required for all the sand in an hourglass to flow from the top to the bottom. Most hourglasses do not run for an hour.  On shipboard, they commonly took half an hour.

Lederer quotes from the trial of Captain Kidd: “It required eight men every two glasses to keep her [a ship] free [that is, not grounded],” meaning eight men every hour.

Richard M. Lederer, Jr.
Colonial American English. A Glossary.
Essex, Connecticut: A Verbatim Book, 1985.

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