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Underwater boat storage

Purposely sink your boat in a safe place to avoid hurricane damage
  [vote for,

After seeing pictures of boats piled up after recent hurricanes I had a "crazy" idea about how to protect them: sink them. This idea is definitely halfbaked and could use some input from subject matter experts. And it could be completely dumb as well.

After a little research, I see that the preferred method for protecting a boat from a hurricane is to pull it out of the water if possible. That may be very difficult and expensive with larger vessels, and even then, unless they can be hauled out of the path of the storm, there is potential for damage. I did find one reference to people sinking houseboats before a hurricane to reduce the chance of major damage at the cause of guaranteeing some damage, so this idea is not completely original. But houseboats I'm guessing would still be mostly above the water when sunk, and would be damaged similarly to a partially flooded home because flood water would flow through the cracks in the door, etc.

For a regular (or maybe only slightly modified) boat, it seems like it might be possible to sink it with very little damage.

Sinking them in the marina probably isn't a good idea because the water is shallow enough that other debris could easily end up on top of the sunken boats. It seems like you'd want a place not too far offshore (for ease of access) that has fairly deep water to reduce the currents from the waves and storm surge. A sandy bottom is also a good idea.

Doing this for a single boat would undoubtedly be quite expensive, but if a system was set up to sink many boats in an assembly line fashion, it might not be too bad. I image a line of boats headed out to the storage location. Small boats would come up boats approaching the end of the line and make sure that each was prepped and ready to go, then the filling from a tanker or a pipe from shore would commence. A sub and/or team of divers would guide each boat to the bottom and "park" it safely.

Technical details:

Obviously the first thing is to fill it with clean water, which is much better then dirty salt water.

We probably want to add something to the water to prevent algae and/or mold growth as it is being dried out. I considered filling with propylene glycol, but that might be hard to dry out, and expensive. I'm assuming that all the hatches can be closed and are basically water tight so that salt water doesn't mix in with the fresh water.

The engine would take special consideration. We don't want to get water in the engine and we don't want engine oil contaminating the water in the cabin. Small amounts of contamination from the engine to the outside of the boat may be tolerable if fewer boats cause bigger oil spills from being destroyed. It might work to completely fill the engine with oil. Ventilated components like starters and alternators might be an issue. Maybe the best solution would be to have a diving bell over the top of the engine and have a compressed air tank that automatically adds more air as the boat submerges.

A boat specifically designed to be able to do this might have a built diving bell and have easy to use ports for filling and emptying water/air in the cabin.

I understand that some boats have positive buoyancy due to foam, etc. Hopefully enough ballast could be safely added. Of course we'd probably want some ballast in all the boats to make sure they don't slide around the ocean floor due to currents.

scad mientist, Sep 10 2017

underwater chair storage https://www.reddit...._their_pool_chairs/
[xaviergisz, Sep 11 2017]

Underwater sphere https://media.bizj....UP-1-bright.jpg?v=1
[unhelpful_fool, Jun 04 2019]


       I like the principle here; it's like diving under a wave that's too big to surf, which is much safer than trying unsuccessfully to stay on top of it.
pertinax, Sep 10 2017

       Unprotected woodwork in the interior is going to swell and get ruined. Likewise, even with fresh water, drying out the electrics will be a huge problem. Then there's the sanitation system. The quantities are small, but might seriously contaminate the interior.   

       Why not just sail the boat to somewhere there are no hurricanes ?
8th of 7, Sep 10 2017

       Flooding the boat seems messy. Why get it wet?   

       1: Envelop boat in plastic bag. Something like those contractors bags. Strong stuff.   

       2: Attach cable from boat to something on the bottom that is heavy.   

       3: Winch boat down into the water.   

       4: You do not want to go too deep or your air filled boat will be crushed by water pressure.   

       5. You will want to disembark from the boat before wrapping it in plastic.   

       6. Once storm is gone, allow boat to float back up to the surface. Remove bag and allow to dry, then fold and store for later use.
bungston, Sep 10 2017

       Boat structures are not really designed to be pulled down from a cable against their buoyancy.   

       Just drive the boat west to someplace west, like New Orleans. Take as much house stuff as fits aboard.
RayfordSteele, Sep 11 2017

       /Boat structures are not really designed.../   

       It is good that you have identified that defect in advance!
bungston, Sep 11 2017

       Just a minute ...   

       Submarines capable of transporting aircraft have been constructed and are WKTE.   

       Buy a second hand submarine. Drydock it*. Cut the front off and take most of the works out; put them on one side for sale on eBay. Leave the propulsion system, and the submergence mechanisms.   

       Weld the bow back on, using a big hinge and some hydraulic rams (there may be some in the pile of left-over bits). Fit a watertight seal to the bow door.   

       Refloat the sub. Submerge and check/fix any leaks. Then, take it to a hurricane-prone area, open the door, and put up a sign saying "BOAT STORAGE".   

       Boats sail in. Door is closed. Sub moves to deep water and submerges until storm passes, then resurfaces. Door opens, boats sail out. Ker-ching !   


       *This bit is IMPORTANT. Do NOT cut the front off while the sub is still afloat. If you do, go back to the beginning and buy another submarine.
8th of 7, Sep 11 2017

       It should be possible to construct boat containers which can be sealed around a boat and winched below the surface allowing the boats to remain floating within them.   

       It's simply a an enclosed floating drydock, with the right ballast and buoyancy tanks.
8th of 7, Sep 11 2017

       You forgot a key step or two: drive boat to new city, call owner with ransom payment information.
RayfordSteele, Sep 11 2017

       2 fries has got the right idea.
RayfordSteele, Sep 11 2017

       I know that in Orissa (now called Odisha) on the Bay of Bengal coast of India, the fishermen bury their boats in the sand on the beach* when a dangerous cyclone approaches, and dig them out once the storm has passed. It appears to be quite effective.   

       You could do something similar with a JCB and crane. There might not be enough beach for many boats tho'.   

       *This is probably quite a common technique around the world, it's just that I know it was used to great effect there in the 1999 storm.
Gordon Comstock, Sep 13 2017

       I'm with [2 fries] as well. But why sink, it just has to be big enough.   

       Maybe a Bond-like re-purposed oil tanker, with opening bay doors and cheaper leeward shelter stacked berths. Automatic robotic suction arms might come in handy.
wjt, Sep 13 2017

       Hang on. There are only two ways this is going to work:   

       (a) Have the boat submersion apparatus installed at multiple locations along every coastline where a hurricane might strike, to be used perhaps once every few years - uneconomic.   

       (b) Have sufficient foreknowledge of the hurricane's path to be able to bring in and set up the submersion apparatus. In which case there's plenty of time to move the boats out of the way.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 13 2017

       I like this idea, but I would use it with a modification [bungston]'s idea. The hulls of boats are very strong but the decks are not, which means that if you simply put a bag on top then the decks will probably collapse as they are a series of only semi-strong shapes. Instead make a cap for the boat that mounts to the deck/hull bond and covers the deck in a very strong shape. Perhaps a geodesic dome so that the cap can be broken down and stored in a small space. Make it a sphere and then the down haul could pull on the surface of the sphere rather than on a single point of the boat. This might let you lower the boat to 50'/15m and avoid the storm without sitting all the way on the bottom.   

       Now yes, a cap will mean more air inside and that means it is more buoyant and means that a greater weight will be needed to lower the boat under the water. Of course if you combine bungston]'s idea of a plastic wrap on the deck, then you could fill it with a higher density material than air. Then it would sink and the pressure of the deep water wouldn't compress the boat.
unhelpful_fool, Jun 04 2019

       Ahem ...   

       // suck all the air out of it causing a vacuum and making it sink //   

       <Turns to address class/>   

       "Now, would anyone like to point out the glaring error that [doc] has made ? "   

       Boats float because of buoyancy. Buoyancy is when the object that floats has a lower density than the medium it is immersed in.   

       Air has a lower density than water. Vacuum has a lower density than air. So if an immersed object full of air has that air removed, leaving vacuum, will its density go down or up ? Will it sink, or float ?
8th of 7, Jun 04 2019

       Welcome, [unhelpful fool], make yourself at home.   

       I expect the others will say hello once they've finished planting out the borromean knotweed.
pertinax, Jun 04 2019

       OK, ignore the other brain fart thing.   

       Have a massive two part bladder sized to fit the particular boat. Tuck it into the compartment below deck and fill the top part up sinking the boat. There's a hose extending up from the bladder that's got a float on it. After the storm, locate the floating marker and attach an air pump to the hose going down to the lower bladder and start pumping air into it. At the same time pump water out of the top bladder. The water bladder gets displaced by the air bladder and the boat floats back up.
doctorremulac3, Jun 04 2019

       Nice try, [doc], but we saw what you did there, and we have saved the text of the anno you deleted.   

       Now, are you going to do the Walk of Shame and apologize, or does it get the hose again ?   

       <Throws blackboard duster at [doc] with astonishing force and unerring accuracy/>
8th of 7, Jun 04 2019

       <catches the duster without even looking up> Thanks for the duster, but I'd be careful with that hose. Never know where it might end up.
doctorremulac3, Jun 05 2019

       Gentlemen, we have a visitor.
pertinax, Jun 05 2019

       Hi new guy, welcome to the club. Don’t worry, we only abuse each other like this Friday through Thursday.
doctorremulac3, Jun 05 2019

       Thanks for further greetings, don't mind me just rolling through the older ideas in subjects I enjoy. I'm sure I'll catch the lash soon enough.
unhelpful_fool, Jun 05 2019


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