This topic will probably become hot again following release of the Robert Redford movie
"All is Lost". In the story the single-handed sailor's Cal
39 collides with a metal shipping
container that puts a nasty hole in the starboard side from the waterline up. I've too have also worried about slamming into one of these while passage-making single-handed or even with a full crew; they'd be hard to spot on a dark night. And some, I understand, can float a few inches below the surface of the water.
In the movie
the singlehanded Redford character puts the boat on a starboard tack and then repairs
the hole with epoxy
and glass mat while hanging over the side and reinforcing from inside. This may sound good in theory but the more likely point if impact will more likely be at the bow at or below the waterline. This would be a difficult place to effect a fiberglass
repair - especially when single-handed.
mats made of canvas
with a sealing agent and securing lines at the the corners of the mat can be used to "plug" (overlap) the hole. In a pinch a small jib
or storm trysail may work. If one can get to the breach from inside the vessel, the hole or crack can be dealt with. The external water pressure on the collision
mat should significantly reduce the influx of water - hopefully to a volume that can be handled by the bilge pump
(or raw water
intake on the diesel).
It is estimated that there are about 20-30,000 of these containers floating around the earth's oceans that have fallen or washed overboard
from the decks off those huge container ships. The outrage is that these containers are floating in international waters and, to my knowledge, no country will assume the responsibility for retrieving them!
All of that said, have I ever seen a floating container? Not yet.