5 March 2014

How to keep your boat afloat

posted by UALR

We all know that cardboard boats tend to bob, sink, and generally fall apart faster than you can say Trojan Homecoming. That’s part of what makes this Friday’s Cardboard Boat Regatta so entertaining – that we get to see these marvels of engineering hold up as long as they do before they become jetsam themselves.

So how do you build a perfect vessel? We asked and got some “Lighthearted Tips for Designing a Cardboard Boat,” courtesy of Philip Persson and Kari Payton.

In the interest of competition, we’ve only given a few of the many tips offered.

Boat Figure 1

The basic concept of a boat is that it is a structure that resists the forces of water when it is pressed into a body of water by gravity and the weight of the boat’s contents. The water wants to collapse the sides and rupture the bottom of the boat. So, the shape of the boat needs to keep water out of the space it occupies below the surface of the water.

Boat figure 3

Another way that the boats will fail is that water will find a hole to flow through, or make one in a weak joint. So, use plenty of duct tape on your joints, and use long pieces that stretch at least six inches past your joints.

Boat Figure 6Boat Figure 7

The wider a boat is, the more stable it will be to rolling over, which we don’t like to do. Getting your hair redone is expensive. Having sharp ends makes the water flow around the sides, rather than pushing against the front. So it’s easier to go fast, which is more fun than going slow.

Boat Figure 10
Keep your seats low, so you don’t rock the boat as much. Also, keep them wide. This makes it more comfortable, and keeps the boat stronger. As cardboard gets wet, it tends to break where the weight is concentrated in small areas. Keep your weight spread out, and have places for your feet. This makes paddling easier, and faster. Everybody likes fast paddling.

For those of you riding in this regatta, good luck. For those who will be watching, we’ll see you poolside!

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