Wooden Boats

Wood floats because it weighs less than an equal volume of water. One would think, then, that a wooden boat full of water should not completely sink. After all, a volume of water equal to that of the boat should still weigh more than the weight of the boat and the water in it. Right? I posted this topic before, but was never able to retreive the answers, so if you answered it then, please do so again

If you fill your standard dory with water, it will slosh around at the surface, completely waterlogged, but not sinking.

If you fill your standard ship, schooner, brig, barkentine, etc. with water, then the iron used in much of the internal construction together with the ballast that is deliberately placed at the bottom of ships to keep them upright will drag the ship down.

When ships were all wooden, it was fairly common to read of ships which had broken up in storms where a segment of a deck floated for quite a while because the remaining piece of wreckage was not ballasted. (You could not, generally, float around on it for a very long time: without the integrity of the whole structure, the action of the waves would tear it apart. In addition, sections of a ship that are not intended to sit in the water are not always selected for their waterproof tendencies and they can become waterlogged and sink.)


I hope this works.
Here is a link to your previous topic on this subject. http://www.straightdope.com/ubb/forum3/html/003490.html

t lion

My previously posted link is NOT GOOD!
Here it is correctly. http://www.straightdope.com/ubb/forum3/html/003459.html

t lion

One more time. http://www.straightdope.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/003459.html
If this doesn’t work try looking back about three or four pages.

t lion

Wrong. I used to think this too, but the logic doesn’t hold water (sorry – I couldn’t resist). The flaw in the reasoning here is that you’re mistaking the volume of the boat (that is, the area bounded by the wooden planks) for the volume of the wood (the combined height, width and depth of all the pieces of wood).

for small boats (like rowboats), the two figures are generally fairly close. If you fill your dinghy with water, you’ll only succeed in swamping it (the boat will sink to the surface level of the water). A cavernous wooden boat with very little hull material will sink like a stone if completely filled with water, though.

Stop me before I make another parenthetical remark (too late)!!

–Da Cap’n
“Playin’ solitaire 'til dawn
With a deck of fifty-one.”

      • I disagree - wood (generally) floats. That means either your wooden dinghy or Noah’s ark will float if they’re foundered in one piece, or if they’re chopped into little bitty pieces. It’s still wood; it’s still gonna float. -As long as it’s not filled with rocks- Wooden sailing ships of yore (a’ la’ Christopher Columbus) had ballast rocks placed in a compartment underneath the lower floor to help them stay upright in crosswinds (they didn’t have large keels like modern boats do). If they got a hole in their hulls, they would sink because of the weight of the ballast stones, not because wood doesn’t float.
      • Using sonar to search for ballast stones is one of the primary ways of finding sunken ships. Finding stones even helps identify the ship that used to contain them; different shipyards in Europe used different shapes, sizes and material for stones. Finding stones and identifying them isn’t a guarantee of finding a ship’s treasure, however. There are cases of shipwreck sites being approximately known and the correct type of ballast stones being found in the area, but no other ship remains having been found. What happened in these instances was that the ship would strike a reef, breaking open the bottom of the hull and the stones would fall out. The ship would then tip over and drift off to (eventually) sink somewhere else. - MC

Whether you float or not depends on your cap size.

Either way, swim for your life!!

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