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Airbags that inflate to keep boat from sinking
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(+3, -2)
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This sounds like it would have been thought about already. What about the installation of airbags inside a boat hull that can be inflated automatically or on command if the boat is involved in an accident and sinking is imminent. The airbags would fill some portion of the boat's cabin with enough air to keep the boat afloat while crew seeks rescue. I can imagine at least one safety consideration; you would want to be sure the air bags are not trapping the boat's crew from escape.
jeremyrfoster, Feb 01 2008

PFDs for Boats PFDs_20for_20boats
Prior art [csea, Feb 01 2008]

Inflatable Liferaft Container http://en.wikipedia...mage:Amandine33.jpg
Outside on deck. [baconbrain, Feb 01 2008]

Auto-inflating life rafts. http://www.ogp.noaa...1/091301/photo5.htm
On deck. [baconbrain, Feb 02 2008]


       Seems like a good idea. Why not have them inflate outwards, though, like the air-tubes on a RIB?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 01 2008

       Let me get this straight - it has taken you five and a half years to come up with this?
coprocephalous, Feb 01 2008

       Well, don't be too critical of him. A quick search shows that at least he hasn't wasted any time writing annos.   

       I'm with [MB]. I spend time on the ocean in old boats that probably would float none too well if they flipped over, but please put these bags on the outside.
normzone, Feb 01 2008

       Is a RIB like a RHIB?
coprocephalous, Feb 01 2008

       Only if an RHIB is a bit like a rigid inflatable boat.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 01 2008

       Or a rigid _hull_ inflatable boat
coprocephalous, Feb 01 2008

       I suspect they may be the same thing. Over here they're usually called RIBs.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 01 2008

       Part of me thinks that outside is better, but part thinks that they are more likely to get torn off or punctured out there and thu. Also on boat that has flipped it may make it impossible to right. Putting the bag(s) on the ceiling of the cabin and only filling half the height would probably right the boat and allow people to stay dryish topside without the possiblity of trapping anyone inside.
MisterQED, Feb 01 2008

       This idea would be easily adapted from the auto-inflating liferafts already in common use on bigger boats and ships. They are generally stored in plastic cases in racks on deck. The built-in inflation system can be triggered manually, by remote signal, or by a sufficient depth of water.
baconbrain, Feb 01 2008

       //This sounds like it would have been thought about already.//   

       Seems remarkably similar to my idea of '04 [link].
csea, Feb 01 2008

       Good feedback. I like having them external, but I like the idea of trying to use them to right the boat too. Sounds ideal then to have capsules on the deck (like the inflatable life raft) that are rugged and remain attached to the boat. Have them deploy at depth. Maybe even a much smaller masthead float... not to float the vessel, but just to keep the whole thing from getting turtled (floating directly upside down).
jeremyrfoster, Feb 02 2008

       Run some numbers on this and you will find that having such a system on a ship is impractical. they use air bags to raise sunken ships.
Antegrity, Feb 02 2008

       Errrr, exactly which numbers did you run, [ant egg], and what leads you to conclude it's impractical?   

       The masthead float sounds like a good idea. My understanding is that a fully inverted yacht or dinghy is much harder to right than one on its side, and moreover the mast itself is often damaged by dragging on the bottom in shallow water. In fact, one of the recommendations when attending a capsized yacht on her side is to fix a bouy to the masthead to (a) prevent other rescuers from hitting it and (b) prevent the boat from inverting fully. And automatic 'airbag' sounds like a good idea.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 02 2008

       This is a good idea. Airbag technology is fully figured, it just hasnt been applied to boats as a safety feature. There could be external airbags to right the boat, and internal airbags to keep it afloat. Not unlike the non-existent safety feature of ballistic parachutes for large planes, when they seem to have worked pretty well for spacecraft re-entry at massive speeds. It just hasnt been done.
yikes!!!, Feb 02 2008

       Antegrity, I'm not sure it would be impractical. If a ship weighs 10,000 lbs it would require 156 cu feet of displacement to neutralize its buoyancy, right? That's a single air bag 5.4' on each side. And I'm imagining 2 stern airbags and one bow (plus the masthead). Is 10,000 an acceptable estimate for a cruising yacht with all gear? I can't imagine these lift bags could take up that much room in their capsules. I'm not sure what the mechanism would look like to inflate them. What do life rafts use?   

       I know lift bags could be used to lift a vessel after it has sunk to the bottom, but a cruising making passage across oceans is out of luck in that case.
jeremyrfoster, Feb 02 2008

       csea, your link didn't work for me. I'd like to see your '04 idea.
jeremyrfoster, Feb 02 2008

       //If a ship weighs 10,000 lbs it would require 156 cu feet of displacement to neutralize its buoyancy, right?// To keep the boat at the surface, you need much less bouyancy than the weight of the boat.   

       If the whole boat is made of steel (7.8g/ cc), and if every single air pocket is filled with water, then you'll need bouyancy equivalent to 87% of the boat's "dry" weight. If the boat is largely wood or fibreglass, or retains at least some air pockets, then you'll need much less bouyancy. I'd guess the average pleasure boat could be kept afloat with bouyancy of no more than 15% of it's "dry" weight.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 02 2008

       Try the chinese idea, thousands of years ago - the unsinkable junk - same idea except it was sealed air compartments rather than inflating airbags. A rather fundamental safety feature that was not continued in the history of shipping. Why ? The main reason anything is taken up, or done away with, or not investigated, would seem to be the Economics at the time. Sure it's impractical if it costs money you dont want to spend.   

       We live in an age where many of the solutions for progress already exist in the potential application of existing technologies, rather than in the the original new discovery of process or object which is what is considered to be "invention".   

       Ideas regarding the application and merger of existing technologies are often met with that common circular status quo assumption that assumes that all the experts in the field have been working tirelessly on the issue since the year dot   //This sounds like it would have been thought about already.//
yikes!!!, Feb 02 2008


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