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Old 11-11-2009, 01:42   #76
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A friend hit a solid semi submerged object 20 miles off the coast of Portugal at night - said it had to be a container, the shock was so crunching . . all he saw was a "wash", like a rock that dries, that was out of sync with the wave pattern . . two seconds later . . bang. . .within 60 seconds crew were in liferaft with the grab-bag and watched his (won't mention the yacht brand) up-end and slip under.
I sail a steel boat and hit what turned out to be a small(ish) floating log at night in the Georges Channel. Shuddered the whole boat. . . and for the few seconds until we got a torch on it as it floated behind, container/rupture/sinking was flashing through my mind . . maybe we logically figure the chances of hitting one are so slim that when we strike some floating debris, we think the worst and nearly have cardiac arrest. . .

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Old 11-11-2009, 03:10   #77
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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, jackmeister.

There’s plenty of room here, for another steel-boat proponent.

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Old 11-11-2009, 03:26   #78
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Old 11-11-2009, 03:34   #79
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Twenty-five years ago or so I was alongside this pier, waiting for the tide to slacken, flooding at six to six and a half knots at the time, when my steel trawler conversion was struck by a floating container. I was in the engine room changing a belt when it happened. The initial impact noise was enough to frighten me near to death. The first impact was a foot back from the bow and then multiple bumps down the starboard side. We were not holed but the initial hit stretched the steel from 8mm down to 2mm and made a hell of a dent.

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Old 11-11-2009, 03:41   #80
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Originally Posted by TaoJones View Post
I think you're probably right, Boracay. It makes me think of the old Volkswagen commercial from the late 60's, IIRC, wherein an old VW Beetle, which had a reputation for being airtight, was set into the water of a deep tank. Sure enough, it floated . . . for awhile. At the end, as the Beetle slowly sank from view, the announcer said, "The Volkswagen. It definitely floats . . . but it doesn't float indefinitely!"

We can only hope that's also true for containers lost from cargo ships.

I was just reading through this thread for the first time, being interested in these kinds of things. This story about the VW ad made me smile. In my freshman dorm room at the University of Texas we had a poster on the wall with a still shot from that VW commercial. But it said "If Ted Kennedy had driven a Volkswagen he'd be President today!".

Another poster from the same company was a take-off on the St. Pauli Girl beer commercial. Had the same photo of the buxom blonde waitress with hands full of beer steins, but said "Nothing goes down like your first Girl". ( Referring to how well the beer tastes, of course. I assume.)

Sorry. As you were. Carry on.
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Old 11-11-2009, 04:07   #81
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Originally Posted by Trim50 View Post
I was told that a large percentage of the male drowning at sea are found with their fly open.
Yes, I have heard that too. I'd be tempted to suggest urban legend, but in fact it does have a ring of truth to it!
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Old 11-11-2009, 04:20   #82
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I was going to edit my post but the time limit had expired.

The container washed up here Maps of the world, street map search - powered by Multimap and we wre able to identify the ship from which it came and my insurance made a claim against the owners. I don't know if they succeeded, but they paid me with no problems.
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Old 11-11-2009, 05:41   #83
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Originally Posted by Brent Swain View Post
One of my 36 footers doing hull speed , hit the sharp corner of a sunken barge , making contact about 6 inchess off the centreline. It didn't even dent it, just chipped the paint off. I hit a moored barge once at hullspeed, no dammage.
Thus it's already been done , many times, with no dammage. If it didn't pucture the hull first time , nor even dent it , it won't the second time .
Many have hit sharp rocks the same way, rocks far less giving than a floating container, with no dents.
Moitessier put a picture in a Yachting magazine of a 40 ft sister ship to his Joshua , which had been T-boned amidships by a a 35,000 ton freighter, no leaks. You could see the bow shape of the freighter bent into the hull amidships. I later heard that they sailed the boat to Tahiti, found repairs there too expensive, then sailed to New Zealand before attempting repairs.
A german cruiser I met in Sidney a couple of years back ,told me of an aluminium boat he saw in the Caribean which had been run over by a cruise ship and passed right under the ship. Altho badly dented ,it wasn't leaking a drop of water . When they got to port, everyone there took one look and vowed to sell their fibreglas boats and build metal ones.
One of my 36 footers pounded across 300 meters of Fijian coral reef near Suva with all paint knocked off and slight dent in the keel the only hull dammage . He later collided with a freighter in Gibralter with only bulwark and stanchion dammage. Another pounded in 8 ft surf on the west coast of Baja for 16 days,before being pulled off thru 1/4 mile of surf, no major dammage. A hull wich can survive these types of torture tests will never suffer damage from a mere collision with a container.
There is no way you will punch a hole in healthy 3/16 th plate in a boat under 45 feet, by colliding with a container at sailing hull speed, period.
If offshore cruisers had the foggiest idea of the abuse that a properly built and maintained steel hull will endure , there would be a lot more of them and far fewer fibreglass hulls out here.
Build in steel and forget about the containers and whales.
Brent Swain
Your clients seem to have a remarkable number of collisions.

A structural engineer could probably tell us about the behavior of 3/16 mild steel and the kinetic energy of a 40,000 pound sharp edged object at 7 or 8 knots. Mild steel is not kryptonite.
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:26   #84
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Consultiing my steel supplier's catalog, mild carbon steel plate, grade A, has a tensile strength of 45,000psi, yield point of 24,000psi and elongation of in 2" of 30%.When I went thru training on steel products, we were taken to a lab that tested standard 1" steel samples for yield, tensile, elongation and impact. It's been a long time, but I think you would have to convert 3/16" to .1875" and multiply it x the above properties. 45,000 x .1875 = 8,437psi tensile. So thinner plate significantly reduces the standard 1" physical properties of steel. I am sure an engineer can help my weak attempt at this. Obviously, different grades of steel have different test results, so it is important to know what grade in question was used.

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Old 11-11-2009, 08:03   #85
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containers at sea

I remember this thread from 2007 and thought I had responded to it then, but I guess not. The original poster asks how many people have actually seen a loose container floating at sea.

I spent most of the '70's and the first 3 years of the '80's as a swordfish spotter pilot, flying a single engine Piper Super Cub from Plymouth, Ma. out 200 miles to the eastern edge of Georges Bank, where I would join up with the boat using loran and work with them all day looking for swordfish. When we found one I'd guide the boat onto the fish and they would harpoon them, by hand. I had an 18 hour range in the airplane, and averaged 13 or 14 hours in the air per day. Saw all kinds of life in the ocean, and all kinds of weather, some of it pretty nasty, especially in a tiny little airplane far from land.

I have somewhere around 4000 hours of flying time doing that, at an average of say 75 miles an hour, which means I've covered maybe 250,000-300,000 miles of ocean from an altitude of about 500 feet, all of it time spent looking hard at the water. In all that time I saw 3 containers floating, usually with one sharp looking corner just awash, the rest visible under the surface. Covered with barnacles and other growth, 2 of them looked like they'd been afloat for a long time. The third one looked relatively new. Other spotter pilots saw others, as well. Our policy was to call the Coasties, give them the loran coordinates, and they'd come out and, if they could find them again, use them for target practice.

So although not common, floating containers do exist out there. That's one of the reasons I built a steel boat.

Best, Bob S/V Restless
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:16   #86
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I recently finished reading "Adrift". Mr. Callahan suggests he might have been hit by a whale, but a container (even during the early 80's) would not be surprising either. This sort of thing freaks me out. You know, sailing around alone is one thing. If something goes really wrong, then you're screwed. Fine, I guess. But, if you are sailing around with family, your responsibility load is much, much more. Putting myself in harms way... Big deal. But, putting my family in harms way, is a whole other story.
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Old 11-11-2009, 23:27   #87
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I think if Bob was hunting swordfish these days he would have seen a whole lot more containers. According to the graph below total container traffic in 1980 was about ~40 million and now its up to ~530 million or so. That's a whopping 1325% increase! If he was out flying today he'd probably see 40 containers (instead of 3) over the same distance!

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Old 12-11-2009, 14:29   #88
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I own 2 steel boats right now for a very simple reason. My first steel boat was an HO-28, a very simple fin keel kit boat (hull and deck) which a fellow had bought and sailed in an unfinished condition. The interior was limited to framework made of 1x1x1/8 angle iron with plywood surfaces for sleeping on and cooking on.

Anyway, one fall he was bringing it home from the summers sailing on his trailer which was an old tandem flatbed. He had welded a cradle frame onto the flat but was a pretty lousy welder. So as he was running home down the road at 60mph, the cradle broke on one side, and the boat toppled off. It hit the ground on its starboard side, and slid about 800 feet before coming to rest in a ditch on its side.

The fellow hired a crane, welded the cradle leg back in place and plopped the boat back on the trailer and took it home. Once there, he took a 1 foot long length of oak about 4x4 in section, carved a hand grip into it, got a hand sledge and started pounding on the inside of the hull on either side of the chine weld. (I never saw the actual damage but I was told the chine was pushed in about 8 inches for a good 6 feet of the weld) He managed to pound the skin back out to where it was nearly flush again, and filled the outside scratches.

For what its worth, the hull chines were of 1/8th inch plating. No interior framing or longerons at all, a completely monocoque structure. The skin was not perforated, nor did the weld fracture.

So thats why I will trust my life to a steel hull. It also impressed me when I read of Bernard Montessiers' boat Joshua going ashore in the storm at Cabo San Lucas and being the only boat to be salvaged.

So the concept of running full tilt into a container doesn't scare me nearly as much as it would if I were in a fiberglass or wood hull. I have made up several collision mats for use in plugging up any holes if I do. I also have a pick axe aboard which I plan on using on any container I happen to run across. I currently own a 20 foot container I use for storing all my boat gear and a pick axe pocks a nice hole in it without too much effort.

SV Sabre Dance, Roberts Offshore 38
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Old 12-11-2009, 16:23   #89
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floating containers

Sabrekai, as you and I know, steel rules , but we'll probably never convince the rest of them. Ah well.

And Jackmeister, that's a fascinating set of statistics... I knew container use had increased, but did not know it was by anywhere near that much. If you extrapolate a little further from my extremely rough observations, you might say that nearly 30 years ago you were likely to pass near by 1 container for every 100,000 miles of ocean travel, at least off the New England coast. But bear in mind, my field of vision was much broader than the beam of your average 40' boat (say close to 1000' versus a 13' beam) so your chances of actually hitting one were still mighty slim. Now your chances are a little better, because there's so many more of them, and although it sure could ruin your day, as long as you have a bit of a plan then I don't know if it's worth losing much sleep over. I mean I could get hit by a truck tomorrow on my way to work, too, but let's hope it's a smaller truck than the one I drive.

Best, Bob S/V Restless
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Old 12-11-2009, 20:14   #90

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"I was told that a large percentage of the male drowning at sea are found with their fly open.
Yes, I have heard that too. I'd be tempted to suggest urban legend" Except, the USCG, the Safety at Sea seminars, a number of reputable sources cite it as a statistic. When they fish out a floater, information like that is probably part of any routine autopsy. (i.e. was the victim clothed? was the clothing disturbed?)

That's why you rarely hear of drowning fatalities among kilted sailors. :-)

On a more serious note, a pickaxe might flood a container, but the cargo itself is often bouyant. If you have a pair of waterproof binocs, drop 'em in a bucket of water. Funny thing, they float. Lots of cargo, from bags of Cheetos and chips, to sneakers with foam padding and insoles, is bouyant enough to keep the container floating even if it is swamped. And the shipping companies don't care if you hit one--because unless you can prove some type of gross negligence, international law apparently says they simply aren't responsible for flotsam that has fallen off their vessel.

When your business is all about the bottom line and the law says you don't have to spend a cent on something...maybe you do, but they don't.

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