“NOBODY Expects the Spanish Inquisition !!”


From The Boatshop
by Ron Magen

“NOBODY Expects the Spanish Inquisition !!”

Hopefully, everybody survived “Isabel” in good shape. Needless to say, everybody had plenty of warning.

On top of everything else, the ‘Dragon’ has a ‘Member call list’ system. I got an evening call giving me a ‘heads up’ to either haul the boat, or ‘strip down to bare poles’ and double-up on mooring pendants. Since I already have two mooring anchors down {250 pounds total}, 66 feet {total} of ½ inch bottom chain, one 5/8 in Polypropylene pendent, and one 3/8 in Nylon pendent, I wasn’t that worried about my 19 foot, 1250 pound boat. However, ‘discretion & Valor, etc’, we did take off the ‘Jib Bag’, and boom with Main attached, and I put on a third 5/8 in Poly pendent.

We helped move the ‘floating mooring crane’ to the dock, and snugged her down with about a half dozen lines and fenders.

After she passed through, we checked the boats . . . everybody on moorings were bobbing happily about. We had less water incursion than a ‘normal’ rainstorm that blows in !! Everybody felt well satisfied . . . and put everything back into place. Clear, blue skies, A few lingering, ‘occasional showers‘ were forecast.

THEN we got ‘sandbagged’. I had turned on the noon news while I made a bit of lunch, with the ‘pups’ for company. We had some rain that morning, but nothing out of the ordinary, and it had ended about 10am. My attention jumped to full when I heard the words, “Edgewater Park” - that’s precisely where the Club is !! High winds, trees down, power out, people laterally blown away, etc.
I immediately called the Club to see if everybody was all right. Everybody was OK, none of the trees or the clubhouse were damaged, all the boats were OK . . . except one . . . an O’Day Mariner, had ‘turtled’.

My guess was that, for whatever reason, he had winched UP his daggerboard !! {Anyway, he is fine, the boat was recovered, and it now ‘resides’ at his home while the insurance company thinks it over.}

“Alright, so your saying, Be Prepared, right ?”

Actually, that’s secondary . . . and it goes without saying . . . prudence, and all that. Where the irony sets in, is a ‘thread’ I have been involved in on one of the ‘boat’ ‘Lists’. While it’s ‘past tense’ for the Mariner owner, maybe it’s more apropos now; since the ‘Building Season’ is just around the corner.

‘The FOAM Wars’ . . .

[‘Discussion’ in progress, note the International aspect] -

From: Ron Magen
Sent: Friday, September 05, 2003 10:28 AM
Subject: [boatdesign] Re: FOAM vs foam {was 'Flotation, Old pop bottles}

John & Chris,
I BOTH, 'agree' and 'disagree' at the same time. It may be more a case of defining terms, than anything else.

Where John spoke about making *airtight* compartments and filling them with foam or bottles creating 'rot traps' - I agree, IF the builder hasn't thought ahead. Certain measures can be taken, PRIOR to sealing, to prevent the growth of the spores that cause 'rot'. A simple method is to NOT make them 'airtight', but to have limber holes to allow air transfer, combined with an 'inspection port'. The same goes for 'foam' . . . that's why some are called 'Two Pound Foam', etc. . . . they weigh that much per cu/ft {of displacement}. Simply allow for it in the buoyancy calculations.

Where Chris was speaking about ' . . . foam filled compartments . . . very tenacious and are hard to remove . . .' he has to be referring to 'pour-in-place' foam. {like that 'insulating-foam-in-a-can that you squirt around holes where the pipes come through the walls}. It can actually DECREASE your flotation . . . it absorbs water over time and makes the boat HEAVIER. {I am helping to repair the Club's 'tender' that had that problem . . . they drilled holes through the bottom to let some 'leak out', then cut out the cockpit sole and had to dig the stuff out - remember the ads for the Boston Whaler - cut in half with and still floating}. After I make up some shaped floor frames to hold the new sole, I'll be cutting a 'slot' in the remaining foam, and inserting some 'carlins' under the remaining edge of the fiberglass so I can screw down the new sole. I may put some flotation foam back in, in 4 inch 'sheets/blocks' between the frames.

I think most of us think of 'foam flotation' in this way - sheets, blocks, 'nuggets'. When I added extra flotation to 'Bee', I used large, clear, trash bags. Dumped in some 'packing nuggets' several sealed 2-liter bottles, filled them three-quarters full {so they could be 'shaped'}and placed them under the foredeck and under the aft 'quarter panels'. I then added simple 1/8 in wood 'curtains', leaving them an inch or so clear of the sole, to retain the bags. Inexpensive and Re-Cycling !!

Ron Magen
Backyard Boatshop

PS: Chris, did they bother to see what was UNDER that octopus ?
- - -

Date: Sat, 6 Sep 2003 10:34:51 +1200
From: "John Welsford" <jwboatdesignsxxxx.nz>
Subject: Re: Re: FOAM vs foam {was 'Flotation, Old pop bottles}

Airbags are a really good trick, a lot of the more traditional racing dinghy classes use them now and they are much the better choice.

On airtight spaces, these need to be designed in from the beginning and can be hard to add later.

- - - -

Date: Sun, 7 Sep 2003 06:17:04 +1000
From: "Jeff Gilbert" <jgilbertxxxxxx.au>
Subject: Re: Re: FOAM vs foam

I agree with your approach Chris.

However I found a lot of builders like to see their void physically filled, it s a psychological deal really as in "if I'm holed I'm still OK." Being holed by eventual rot is not considered! Out of sight out of mind!

Or is it a little bit of cunning as in "ah well, I will be selling this boat before rot could possibly become a problem, meantime its safe". I reckon if you have an airspace and an inspection port you can stick your nose in there and say "Ah strewth I must stick some foam in there one day."

Then go and have a beer. Belgian, of course.

- - - -

Date: Sat, 06 Sep 2003 14:21:23 +0000
From: "christoph ostlind"
Subject: Re: Re: FOAM vs foam


While the foam I typically encounter is not the type from the can as you describe it is a two part mix that expands in place and then gets trimmed to fit. My experience is that the stuff can be from a wide range of chemical products. Some of which readily absorb water and others are extremely resistant to same.

Whatever, it still represents weight that does nothing for the boat that an air compartment wouldn't do as well. The maintenance thing just puts it over the top for me.

As John suggested in a later post, I'd rather see inflatable air bags such as those used by whitewater kayakers and canoeists than a foam filled compartment. The argument that the bags might get punctured in a prang is limited in my view as one would typically have more flotation aboard than just one bag in one location. If the holing of one air bag could send your boat to the bottom then I'd have to think the boat was overloaded in the first place. That, however, is another topic.

Boats that have foam sandwich layers for their construction make much more sense to me as they are engineered for a specific structural application and aren't just hanging around filling voids.

The "under the octopus" item is from another time in my life. I'm too old now to mess with the Federales and their ‘pistoleros’.

- - - -

Date: Sun, 7 Sep 2003 04:19:38 -0400
From: "Ron Magen" <quohog@att.net>
Subject: Re: FOAM vs foam

I've read all the responses to MY 'response'. While some people seem to consider me the 'village idiot', some like John seem to agree with the concept; "Airbags are a really good trick". My 'treatment' was simply a 'MUCH less costly' version of the specialty bags made for Toro's, Sabot's, Frosty's, etc. These can cost $100 or more, and are NOT placed in a closed compartment {from the pictures I've seen}, but under a thwart or at a forward bulkhead. They have sewn-in grommets/tabs for tying in place.

'BEE' is a 7 foot boat, and to para-phrase Phil Bolger's own words, "NOT to be considered 'seaworthy', NOR should any boat of this size". The 'nuggets & bottles' I used were IN ADDITION to the 'slabs' of foam the design called for. The 'containing curtains' were obvious and explained to the purchaser. There were THREE separate 'compartments'; one at each 'point' of the boat.

The 'squirt can' I mentioned was an EXAMPLE of the CONCEPT for those readers not familiar with "Pour-In-Place" brand {?} expandable foam. To my engineering mind, anything that goes from size 'x' in liquid form to 10x times it's volume must, by the nature of the material, be porous - like a sponge.

Do SOME 'structural foams' absorb water OVER TIME - absolutely. That is why they are typically encapsulated with fiberglass, or some other impervious 'shell'. Even that is no guarantee. My reference to the drilled holes in the Clubs 'whaler' in an attempt to drain the trapped water, is only one example. Another is the MANY 'Sunfish' and 'Lasers', etc. that are used in 'class' racing. There are SPECIFIC weight parameters. I have seen discussions where one of these boats has 'picked up' 100 pounds {or more} through water absorbed in it's 'core'. Having helped to move the boats used in the Clubs summer 'Sailing School', I can attest to this fact !! The builders of these, and other boats, are engaged in a 'Commercial Enterprise'. Therefore they are going to use the LEAST EXPENSIVE 'functionally appropriate materials'. Note, that even if a 'store bought' boat is 'hand laid-up', it uses POLYESTER resin, NOT epoxy resin.

On the other hand, some foams WILL stand up quite well to constant immersion . . . IF they are 'designed' for THAT SPECIFIC function. At the beginning of this summer, the Club built several new 'floating docks'. We used what looked like large {about 8ftx8ftx3ft, 2 per 'dock'}, black plastic 'tanks' as the 'captured' flotation. The old floats had foam 'blocks' of about the same size. A few of these had been replaced over the years, and were 'on the hard' and used as stands, etc. You could see how about 25% of the thickness - the part that was submerged - had been eaten away.

My West Wight Potter {the 'line' has been around for MANY years} has shaped foam 'blocks' under the 'sock liner' in the area of the quarter berth and cockpit. It also has 'slabs' stacked under the 'V' berth. A number of other 'commercial' boats are probably built the same way.

Regarding 'amateur' boats, I remember a lot of discussion about 'Blue' foam vs 'Pink' foam vs 'White' foam, 'Open Cell' vs 'Closed Cell', and Home Depot vs 'Specialty Marine Sources'.

AIR is the 'best' flotation but it requires VOLUME - there is a LOT of air in a SCUBA cylinder, yet it sinks 'like a stone'. Anything you put into that 'volume' simply keeps it OPEN so it won't 'collapse'. {Ever see the 'trick' with a Styrofoam cup that a lot of 'Deep Submergence Craft' drivers do? They put it in an open 'cage' outside the 'passenger compartment' where it is exposed to sea pressure. When they come back from depth the air has been 'squeezed out' so although it still LOOKS like the 8 oz cup, it is now the SIZE of a THIMBLE !! HOWEVER, they are still 'intact' because the 'Pressure Cell' they were riding in did not collapse.

Can ANY boat sink - according to the builders, NOT the "Titanic".

Ron Magen
Backyard Boatshop
- - - -
Date: Sun, 07 Sep 2003 02:32:47 -0700
From: "Mark A."

This is from the USCG's "Safety Standards for Backyard Boat Builders," which, among much else, covers requirements, exemptions and calculations for both basic and level flotation.

> AIR CHAMBERS are an alternative to foam flotation material. Builders who choose to use air chambers should remember that a part of the hull cannot be used as part of an air chamber, since damage to the hull in the form of a crack or puncture would also damage the air chamber and eliminate any buoyancy it provided.<

Some will call this entire document, "Too much regulation," but it's from the people who'll risk themselves to come to the rescue if you founder.

- - - - -
Date: Sun, 7 Sep 2003 21:45:50 +1200
From: "John Welsford"
Can I point out that by subdividing the boat into several air tanks you are effectively providing crash bulkheads which confine the water ingress to the affected area.

- - - - -

Date: Sun, 7 Sep 2003 06:45:13 -0700 (PDT)
From: Lew Clayman
Subject: Re: Re: FOAM vs foam

> This is from the USCG's "Safety Standards for Backyard Boat Builders," . . .<

At one point I studied this "pamphlet" very carefully, and the neat thing about it is that a backyard builder with no great education can follow it readily. No natural logs or integrals, but a lot of "measure this and this, multiply, look up on this table, that's your answer." That makes it easy to get right.

It will be objected, I predict, that such simple calcs - ROTS really - do not take into account all kinds of subtle engineering and special design features and such. Well, they ain't supposed to - there are fuller regs for that. Following the pamphlet will make you safe and legal in any conventional design, or so the USCG claims. I'll bet a paycheck that these rules are usually overkill, safer-than-safe, because 'better safe than sorry.'

I studied them when I was culling the world of ROTS for HulWiz, but didn't use any because I figured that would make the results too US-specific and (more worrisome to me) give them an air of "safe and reliable" that I don't think HulWiz-generated forms ought to have. (This is part of why the second page sends you to your local regs!)

- - - - -

That’s where the ‘boatdesign’ thread ended. Then, ironically, I noted this request on the ‘Bolger List’;

Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2003 22:56:20 -0700 (PDT)
From: mike car
Subject: foam fill the mast - unsinkable
>. . . has anyone foam filled the mast to make it unsinkable, how did you do it on all aluminum?
- - - -

From: "Ron Magen" <quahaug@att.net>
Subject: Re: 'foam filled mast'
Date: Saturday, September 13, 2003 20:16

It's actually an 'old' trick; originally to 'quiet' the slapping of internal halyards.

It's easy to do on small boats with 'light' masts that are un-stepped by a couple of people. Simply take the mast off {or just lower it to the 'trailering position', and start stuffing pre-cut 'bricks' of foam {Styrofoam, Blue insulating foam, 'Marine' foam, etc} up the inside of the mast. Use a length of cheap PVC pipe {with something flat & appropriate size on the end} as a 'ramrod'. Measure about 1/3 of the mast height FROM THE TOP. If you don't have a 'masthead' and can do this from the top; so much the better.

One minor problem may be the bolts/screws of items that are attached to the mast. Simply back them out, and replace after the job is done.

Personally, I would NOT, EVER use any 'Pour-in-Place' stuff. If you have to replace/add an antenna, internal halyards, or some lighting . . . FORGET IT !!

I also hate to 'burst your bubble' but ANYTHING you do will probably NOT make the mast 'unsinkable'. {Besides, if it separates from the boat 'on the water' - you've got BIGGER problems}. What it WILL do is most likely prevent you from 'turning turtle' if you get into a 'knock down' situation; or at least give you extra time to right the boat.

The Gougeon Brothers {the people behind WEST System epoxies} used to also build good sized catamarans {may still do}. Because a catamaran has 'Ultimate Stability' it two positions - rightside up and UPSIDE DOWN - they 'developed' an interesting device. It looked like a little blimp, maybe 5-feet long, that was foam-filled and attached to the top of the mast. With that much flotation, the worst case scenario was a 'knock down'.

Let me know if you want a more detailed explanation.

Regards & Good Luck,
Ron Magen
Backyard Boatshop