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Old 19-04-2007, 09:35   #1
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Floating Containers in the Ocean

I am wondering how many people have actually seen shipping containers floating in the ocean when sailing offshore?

I have talked to only one Australian sailor who almost hit a partially submerged container on the high seas. There are lots of containers lost overboard each year. When we were in a storm north of New Zealand, a ship lost more than ten containers overboard, but we never saw any of them.

I have talked with people who run into things at night offshore with a boat shuddering thunderous collision, but usually they never know what they hit unless it was a whale.

So all of you sailors out there, how many of you have actually seen a floating container in the water offshore?

Check out this URL to see pictures of some of the really big container disasters in which hundreds of containers went overboard:

M/V_OOCL_America
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Old 19-04-2007, 11:27   #2
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Never seen any myself but remember a yacht "Miss Fidget" which went down in the English Channel or was it the North Sea a few years ago. All were saved but the yacht sank remarkably quickly, I recall. Tony
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Old 19-04-2007, 12:25   #3
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Let's put it this way

your chances of dieing on the freeways of the world are higher then the chances of hitting a container at sea. And you'll probably survive if your vessel has the advised safety gear.

The highest death rate it due to drowndings and most of them are close to shore. http://www.uscgboating.org/statistics/stats.htm
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Old 19-04-2007, 12:49   #4
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Being hit by a whale or running aground might end with the same result too. The ocean is far bigger than all the land and the obstacles per sq mile are far less. Being hit by lightning, meteors, or rogue waves and a host of other things have happened. Most have no active avoidance measures what so ever. if you hit a container and your boat sunk at least you would have the container to hold on to. That one has been leak tested.

Now compare that to the chance of having a brain aneurysm that kills you instantly. There are no risk free scenarios and if you look hard enough there is one more thing you can't be prepared for after you think you have them all.
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Old 19-04-2007, 13:02   #5
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I was told that a large percentage of the male drowning at sea are found with their fly open.
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Old 19-04-2007, 14:17   #6
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FWIW never seen one, seen lots of whales though.
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Old 20-04-2007, 17:46   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trim50
I was told that a large percentage of the male drowning at sea are found with their fly open.
That's hilarous. Tragic, but hilarious.

I was in San Pedro harbor once and a container ship dropped one of its containers in the water somehow. Coast Guard was all over the vhf about it, but apparently in sank really quickly.

Of all the containers that get dropped into the water, most of them sink like a stone. I mean it's a big metal case, usually with really heavy stuff inside. But the outer case alone has to be well over a ton or two I'd think.

The only ones that float have air pockets in them suitable to counteract all that weight, which is a lot of air tight integrity to expect from a shipping container.
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Old 20-04-2007, 18:29   #8
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Years ago, on our way back from Catalina Island to Oceanside Harbor in our powerboat, the mightly Snorkel, something surfaced close to us. It was very black, covered with possibly slime and definitely barnacles, and sort of squarish. Then it disappeared. We were aghast, and figured it was probably an old container, or a squarish whale? We still wonder.

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Old 20-04-2007, 22:22   #9
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Yes we too have seen maybe 30 whales and 0 containers - but personal pals have hit both in Indian Ocean.
The whale resulted in a lost rig, but the boat survived. The container saw that pals boat sink in a claimed 2 minutes.
Fully agree risks for both are minimal.
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Old 25-04-2007, 18:53   #10
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Floating containers

Cruising in a steel hull I don't waste a minute thinking about collisions with either containers or whales. I once met a steel Aussi boat in the Marquesas who had several collisions with whales after leaving the Galapagos. They said it was like running into a pillow.
One of my 36 footers T-boned a steel barge tied to a dock at hull speed, no dammage whatsoever.
A guy I built a 36 footer for , after having cruised from BC to New Zealand and back , sailed the steel boat I built him to Mexico, Hawaii then back to BC. He said the peace of mind that the steel hull gave him when doing hull speed on a dark night was amazing.
If you are worried about containers , go for a steel hull and forget about them. There is zero chance you will do any significant dammage to a well built and maintained steel boat in a collision with a container or a whale.
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Old 25-04-2007, 20:10   #11
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Although this wasn't a scientific poll, it was interesting that there are so few reports about collisions with floating containers offshore, especially when you understand that thousands of them are lost overboard each year.

Whales are another issue entirely. I have seen hundreds of them as we sailed around the world, especially off the East Coast of Australia. - sometimes dozens each day.

I have personally known two people whose yachts ran into whales - one between Galapagos and French Polynesia, and one in the eastern Indian Ocean.
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Old 25-04-2007, 21:12   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Louis Riel
If you are worried about containers , go for a steel hull and forget about them. There is zero chance you will do any significant dammage to a well built and maintained steel boat in a collision with a container or a whale.
Brent
That brings the Titanic to mind.
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Old 25-04-2007, 22:46   #13
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If you are worried about containers , go for a steel hull and forget about them.
You have got to be plain ignorant to make a comment like that. Hit a cor10 steel container the right way, and your steel hull will peel open like a Bakebean can. NOTHING is totaly safe to be able to make a blanket statement like that.

On average, 3500 containers go overboard per year.
A 20ft container has (if I remember correctly) about a 50,000Kg of floatation. A full load weight is only (once again if I remember correctly) 18,000Kg adn I think the tare weight is 20,000kg. so even a fully loaded container will still float. For that reason, most all modern containers are now fitted with special valves that release under pressure and allow the container to sink. However, this doens't always happen. And some containers can have freight that is boyant anyway and will keep the thing afloat. Not that many months back a container ship ran aground in England and spilled most of the containers over the side. Containers were being washed up on the beach and people flocked done to the beach in hundreds to take what was washed up. Some folks rode away on brand spanking new motor bikes. So those containers remained afloat and dry, even though they had heavey cargo in them. The real danger are the notainers that are mostly submerged and usually float with a corner just out of the water. The don't get seen till it is too late. And yes, they do get seen. I have several friends that have circumnavigated and seen containers. One spent 10yrs around the world and has seen three containers on his journey. They came within inches of one that showed it's corner only out of the water. Steel hull and it would have sliced them open if it hit.
However, as other have pointed out, statisticly speaking, you are awefully lucky if you see one and awefully unlucky if you ever hit one. But some have.
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Old 25-04-2007, 23:43   #14
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Regardless of the usual aurguments about different hull materials have you considered what your 20K lb boat is going to do when it meets 40K lb of mostly submerged container at hull speed on ocean swells? Sort of like running aground because you ain't going to brush it aside. In fact I think I would rather run aground, at least you can sometimes use the rock to stop you from sinking.
Wheels is right, a shipping container will damage a steel hull if struck right. I know, I once had to repair a ship's hull that was breached underwater by hitting a container.
Don't let it stop you going cruising though, more chance of meeting death on the highway.
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Old 26-04-2007, 00:43   #15
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Good point Pete, I was going to mention the mass part, but forgot. 40Klb doesn't bounce :-)
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