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Old 02-02-2004
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How much styrofoam bouyancy do I need?

I pulled out an extremely large amount of styrofoam pellets out of the front of my boat to work on the bottom of my 16''er. I''m curious about whether I should put it all back or not. It was alot of work to get out, and I have a feeling that most of it wasn''t needed. Most of the boat is wooden, the centerboard is a 3/8" piece of Aluminum, and the rudder is similar. Is there an easy way to estimate how much styrofoam I''ll need? Are there some good suppliers of cheap styrofoam blocks, rather than the pellets? Thanks for the help.

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Old 02-02-2004
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How much styrofoam bouyancy do I need?

On a small boat its is not just how much floatation but also where it is placed. It should be large enough and low enough to support the boat with the gunnels above water if the boat is going to have a chance to survive a capsize. In designing rightable dinghies the floatation on each side of the boat is sized to provide buoyancy equal to the weight of the boat, crew, and gear. While the bouyant weight of a wooden boat is reduced by the floation of its hull this is more than offset by the water trapped within the capsized hull.

There are a number of cheap sources for closed cell polystyrene or closed cell Polyisocyanurate foam. I would try someone like McMasters Carr.

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How much styrofoam bouyancy do I need?

With any luck you don''t need any of it, it is really there to insure that the hull will still float and not sink like a rock should the boat suffer a disaster. It is really so the "survivors" have something that floats to cling to while awaiting rescue. A wooden boat will not necessarily float when overturned or holed just cause it is wood, if it did there wouldn''t be so many boats on the bottom of the ocean & Mel Fisher wouldn''t be the wealthy treasure hunter he is. It does offer some insulating (noise) qualities as well but that''s not why it''s there. I would put it all back (& then some) but we all have different acceptable levels of risk.
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