Hull Material for Ice Protection

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Sloan, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. Sloan
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    Sloan Junior Member

    Hi,
    I'm working on a novel about a person who is custom building a sloop which will be taken into the north Atlantic waters around Iceland. I'm wondering what kind of material might be used over a wooden hull to protect it from contact with ice and/or rocks.

    My first thought was titanium. However, a friend of mine--more knowledgeable about this than I am--suggested kevlar. Is kevlar (over a wooden hull) a viable approach? If so, when did it first start being used? My book takes place in the mid 1990s.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.
     
  2. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    Kevlar was first patented in 1966, so it has been around awhile.
     
  3. Milehog
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    Milehog Clever Quip

    Look at greenheart or ironwood sheathing.
     
  4. Sloan
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    Sloan Junior Member

    So titanium is right out?
     
  5. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Titanium is waaay expensive and might not be practical for that reason. If your main character is filthy rich you can go with titanium. Icebreaking ships are typically steel, plenty thick steel with enormous power in their engines.

    You are to be commended for doing decent research for practical execution of the subject boat. Some authors are sloppy about their research.
     
  6. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Steel is the only practical choice. Other materials are nowhere near as rugged. Titanium would probably be strong enough but the cost would be outrageous, even if you could find someone who could work it into a hull.
    Read "North into the Night" about a guy and his wife who took a steel sailboat north into the Greenland ice pack to be intentionally frozen in.
    You wonder what would impel anyone to experience such a thing (which he did alone after his wife left to see her sick father).
     
  7. Sloan
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    Sloan Junior Member

    Character is pretty rich. Not filthy rich, but pretty rich.

    It is important for the boat to--in addition to it's resistance to ice--also be able to handle well and move as quickly as possible. That's why I avoided heavy steel or iron sheathing.
     
  8. Sloan
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    Sloan Junior Member

    It's a research vessel which hooks up with, and follows, pods of whales. Photographing and collecting DNA samples. A sailboat is used because the whales would be spooked by a motorized vessel closing on them. The boat has to be capable of keeping up with them, but also be reasonably safe in dangerous waters.

    I suppose I should also mention that it will be handled by a solo sailor--although a VERY skilled one.
     
  9. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    Sloan,

    In the 1990's titanium would have been outrageously expensive for this use. Today it just might be reasonable because titanium prices have come down so much in the last 10 years, but twenty years ago it would be insainly expensive.

    The other issue is if he had a titanium plated hull, the wood would be completely redundant. This is the same issue with steel honestly, why build a steel hull around a wooden one.

    What you are most likely looking at from a realistic standpoint would be a reinforcement of high wear areas around the waterline, and the bow where ice would abrade the wood. But this is only likely on a relatively small boat. As it get larger it becomes more and more likely a boat would have been built out of steel, or perhaps aluminium.


    To my knowledge there has only been one non-military vessel built out of titanium. And it was build by a guy who owned a titanium mill...
     
  10. sean9c
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    sean9c Senior Member

    But it's a wood boat?
     
  11. Sloan
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    Sloan Junior Member

    Ok, titanium is out. Does kevlar sound believable? Or would that, also, be redundant?
     
  12. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

  13. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    David,

    That was the boat I was thinking about. But he owns a specialty metal fabrication shop, and provided a lot of titanium to industrial users.

    I would have to price it, but my guess is you are looking today at a significant premium over aluminium. But to have done so in the 1990's was probably incredibly expensive.

    There is some movement these days in trying to investigate titanium hulls, but it is very early on in the process.
     
  14. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    We were building kevlar/foam sandwich dinghies by the late 80s so you aren't anachronistic in that respect: the cloth was available at affordable prices. I've never heard of it being used as a sheathing material for ice in the way you suggest, but wheher that's important I can't say.
     

  15. MechaNik
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    MechaNik Senior Member

    Are you referring to abrasion resistance or impact resistance and is this for continued use or as piece of mind in case of collision.
    Kevlar could be applied easily enough. It has great resistance against penetration and scrapping to prevent a boat sinking. However after a collision the supporting planks beneath it is likely to be crushed to mush and in need of repair still.
     
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