21 November, 2009

The unsinkable Lucky Dog

The original Newport 16 floatation consisted of 3 Styrofoam blocks under the cockpit and a sealed air chamber under the v-berth. Unfortunately I highly doubt the boat’s survivability in an actual boat sinking situation. To make things worse when I bought my boat the berth liner had split from the hull. I could hear the water that was leaking from the keel trunk sloshing under the berth.

I have a zero tolerance for any water in the boat. Constant bilge water causes several problems. The water eventually penetrates the fiberglass, dissolves some of the compounds and weakens the material. Constant water increases the humidity promoting mold growth. The acceptance of water in the bilge reduces the investigation time in an actual emergency. What is sad is that the Newport 16 was designed to leak water into the hull. Why does it have a hull drain plug? With today’s materials and some design forethought there is no excuse to have any water in the boat. On a boat this size you have no room for a liferaft. Your boat is the lifeboat and it has to stay afloat no matter what happens. You have a better chance of rescue sitting in a boat filled to the gunnels than treading water in a lifejacket.

Basic Design Requirements:

1) Any unusable areas should be filled with floatation foam. The boat needs to be a cork on the ocean. There are a lot of arguments about what type of foam to use. My foam will be dry 99.99% of the time. Household spray foam that has some absorption over long periods will displace the water long enough for a rescue. The original Styrofoam blocks were cut to fit in tight and gaps were filled with spray foam.

2) Improve storage. The original V-Berth air tanks are a lot of lost space. Any hull damage cannot be inspected from the inside.

3) Compartmentalize to reduce flooding volume. All modern ships are divided into compartments to control flooding. Several of these compartments can flood and the ship stays afloat.

In my future blogs I will explain how I achieved a dry boat and at the same time improved storage.


  1. I would like to hear more about how you treated the forward compartments.

  2. Storm,

    I subdivided and sealed as much as I could. I am 6'2" so that was not easy.

    1) Divided the berth into three waretight sections. 2 small triangle bulkheads just aft of the toilet hole.

    2) Cut out the toilet bucket and cut six access holes to seal the bulkheads and the liner to the hull to prevent cross flooding.

    3) filed the unacessible space under floor pan with foam.

    4) Filled FWD part of bow with foam.

    I have some pictures that I can post soon...



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