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Yes, something could still go wrong. The styrofoam would make for a great flotation device though.

People put floatation foam in boats to provide buoyancy even if water gets in, but you want it as high as possible, just like you want weight as low as possible (in the keel). If you ran aground and had to plug a leak, you'd probably rip the floor up and have to dig through styrofoam to find it. It's also flammable. I don't own a boat, by the way, but these are some thoughts.

Closed cell foam (Styrofoam) displaces water from whatever space the foam occupies. If the boat fills with water the foam allows less water inside of the hull, and the displacement buoyancy of the boat will enable it to float higher than otherwise or at least not to sink. It doesn't particularly matter where the foam is located. Usually it is placed as much out of sight as possible. The more the merrier.

Yes. Many things will go wrong.

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Yes things can still go wrong.

Flotation is added to small boats to prevent sinking because studies of accident reports have shown that deaths occur most frequently when people leave the boat. Flotation allows the boat to remain afloat, and if it has level flotation, stay upright. Then the people can remain in the boat. Some float so well they can even restart the engine and get moving when swamped. But there are varieties of flotation.

There is level flotation where the boat floats upright when swamped, and there is basic flotation, that is the boat just floats, usually with only the bow out of the water. New outboard powered boats under 20 feet are required to have level flotation. New inboard and sterndrive boats are required to have at least basic flotation.

Where you put the flotation and how much you use are extremely important. To get a boat to float level, flotation is distributed around the boat. Usually there is some under the floor, but there is also some under the gunwales and in the bow of the boat. The amount needed is based on the weights of the boat, the weight of the engine, and the weight of the people. Each of these is distributed to support the hull, the people and the engine. The engine is especially important, because it sits fairly high and most of the weight is in the head of the engine. So it has tendency to roll the boat when swamped. So two large blocks of flotation are placed in the rear corners to support and balance the weight.

On Inboards flotation is usually placed anywhere there is space because it is very hard to float a large engine in an upright manner. If you put flotation just anywhere on a boat, O/B or I/B you get basic flotation.

See more about this at http://newboatbuilders.com/pages/flot.html

None of this precludes all of the things that can happen, such as swamping, capsizing, falls overboard and so on. It simply makes the boat a little safer, and a boat is a lot easier to see from a rescue boat or helicopter, than a head of person in the water.

2011-05-17 03:08:21
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Q: If you fill the bottom of a boat with Styrofoam can anything go wrong with the boat?
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Can you fill the bottom of a boat with styrofoam?

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