Sinking of little boats under 20 ft.

Greg and others interested.
My aluminum boat will not sink because of plastic foam entrapped under the seats. I believe all boats must have enough foam to float them unless they are 20ft. or more, in which case the boat builders are not required to keep the boat afloat when swamped or capsized.
Boats sink for a variety of reasons, including fire, holed, flooded or swamped, rolled over, explosions etc. All boats, including the Boston Whaler, can and will sink under certain circumstances, fire being one of them.
The Whalers are pricey in my opinion for what you get, but I do love their looks. If you buy one, be cautious because you could be killed in one the same as anyone else, in any other boat. Large, rogue waves in the ocean have been known to crash into Whalers and sweep the boat clean of all gear and people aboard. If this happens, you could find yourself in the water and the boat, still running, being a long ways away. You will, of course, unless saved, slowly fall into hypothermia and it will be time for a long sleep. But I have heard that the sleep is good.
Good luck, boats are fun, but they are inherently dangerous, just like guns and airplanes.:thumb
P.S. I don't know how this cut and paste job got posted as a topic because it was intended to be a response to Greg's post. I am afraid to try to change it around because it might be lost into cyber space, something that happens to me often even though I hit the save button every other word or so.
Hey Bob,

Thanks for the reply. You said "...My aluminum boat will not sink because of plastic foam entrapped under the seats..." As is often said, "...a pictures worth a thousand words..." Thought you might be interested in what injected foam into a dual hull "unibody" construction does for the Boston Whaler that results in it being called "the unsinkable legend"...uhhh, need to add a caveat: don't try this at home if you've only got plastic foam under the seats.

Maybe some clarification is necessary, maybe not.

Here is my $.02. First, Coast Guard regulations for boat call for "level flotation"-- this means that when the boat is loaded with its maximum weight limit (to include motor, gas, gear, people) it will float upright and level when swamped. If you overload it, then it could sink whether it's a Whaler or a 14-foot Smokercraft.

The problem I have with the photos posted by Greg is that they show a Whaler is a "don't try this at home" scenario that might lead the viewer to believe these boats are bulletproof. This could lead the inexperienced boater to assume that no matter what he or she does in the boat, they will be safe. That is far from the case. These boats, like any boat, aren't bulletproof. If the skipper doesn't have the sense to pour water out of a boot, then the chances are good that he will get into trouble. You just have to look at the news reports to see what I mean. Take the family that perished off LaPush last year. They were in a Whaler, and apparently it flipped.

I read another report from an Alaskan who used a Whaler incident to describe the problems with the lack of reserve buoyancy in the design. A boat near Homer came around a point, as I recall, hit a rip sideways and flipped. The older Whalers have no reserve buoyancy (that means they have vertical sides) and if tipped too far to one side, they will turn turtle quickly. No amount of built-in flotation will solve that.

There is one other caveat about any boat with foam flotation and the monocoque hull design-- if the outer shell is holed or cracked, the foam will slowly soak up water. You'd have to tear it apart and replace the foam to get a usable boat again. If you trailer your boat and keep it under cover it's not such a big deal, but if you moor your boat or let it sit in the rain...

Having said all that, in my 40 years of boating in the Northwest, I will say that the Whaler is a fairly safe boat in the right hands. A secondhand story is told by a buddy about a friend of his who was in that bad fall storm off Port Angeles a dozen (?) years or so ago when six or seven people lost their lives. Anyway, this friend of a friend was fishing in the middle of the Strait when the winds hit. He made it back to port, but only after several waves had broken over his Whaler and washed everything but him out of the boat. That's not something Bob could do in his little aluminum boat, but then again, odds are he wouldn't be out there in those conditions anyway.

I guess my point is that Whalers, while a generally safe boat, aren't failsafe. And if you think they are, you could get in pretty serious trouble, especially if you're a beginning boater.

Sorry about being long winded, but this issue is kind of a sore point with me.


Excellent point when you said "...And if you think they are, you could get in pretty serious trouble, especially if you're a beginning boater..." I'm certainly not suggesting the Whalers arent invincible. My point was simply they are among the most seaworthy. Nothing on the water is immune...its a totally alien environment and the skipper has a monumental responsibility to not only learn and know everything about the boat and how it hendles under ALL conditions, but to do it all with prudence.

Thanks for the erudite comments.


Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
Mr Lawless's posting is a good follow up to the question about small boats. Puget Sound in particular is famous for it's standing wave chop. I wouldnt want to ride that all day in a whaler. Look for something with a cathedral or modified V hull. Stability is not about being flat, it's about displacement throughout the design. Deeper V designs cut better and tip less on choppy water.And Bob's comments about being washed by big waves/wakes and the other post about being rolled over should both be taken very seriously. I have many years experience in Whalers and they wont keep you alive in frigid waters and none of the little shards of foam and debris will replace a properly worn Personal Flotation device.Most of the accident s in boating happen to quickly to correct. In analysis most could have been prevented. Don't be fooled by the hype. I have seen pieces of whalers on the rocky shorelines of new england for decades.You need higher freeboard around here.
Many words of wisdom here guys, nice thread.
Bottom line: A boat is only as safe as the person at the helm makes it.

But I'd thought I'd bash the keyboard over your comment about rogue waves, something which puts something akin to panic in the eyes of newcomers to openwater boating.

Spent a lot of my youth surfing _ and boating _ in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and one of the world roughest pieces of water Bass Strait, and hence spent a lot of times staring at waves, both swell and windchop.

Rogue waves tend to imply something malicious, unpredictable etc etc whereas a "rogue wave" is really the result of a wave, catching up to others and hence multiplying its energy.

They do not come from no-where. In most instances of (small boating) people being affected by a "rogue wave" is the factor of suprise _ ie not keeping enough of a watch, due to fishing crabbing having fun etc. The larger wave has probably been in clear view for several minutes, if you are paying attention.

If you are anchored up in a swell, watch the rythym, wave heights and behaviour. Generally there is a lull then a "set" of 7 larger waves, then a lull etc. If you are safe on the set waves (as you should be) if something significantly larger shows, its time to move, or at least prepare to move. If you are in close to a shore or bommie etc and in above head height swells (so your long range vision is impaired) then us a wider margin for error. Get in and out on the lulls and don't switch off your motor etc

Could go on but enough for now

Stay safe