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View Full Version : Ahoy there, nautical AWers- could a pistol sink a yacht?



Variously
06-08-2010, 10:44 PM
I would like to use this idea in the book I'm currently working on: an exchange of gunfire from pistols between two characters inside a motor yacht, followed by one chasing the other, who flees in a car. When this character returns to the yacht the following day, he finds it has sunk, due to a bullet piercing the hull. It's not vital to the story, but it would be fun to use. If it's totally improbable then I'll scrap it. I guess the yacht would have to sink within about 8-9 hours, before daylight.

Also, if this idea is a runner, can anyone clue me in on how a yacht would be raised out of the water? Maybe some kind of crane?

Any contributions gratefully received.

Wayne K
06-08-2010, 10:49 PM
If it's a yacht it's probably equipped with some sort of pump that ejects water. (They all take on water) It would have to be a big hole.

Or, you can have the MC do what my father did. Throw some sawdust on the ground to dry up the water, clogging the pump, and sinking it. Oh wait, that's stupid :D

Noah Body
06-09-2010, 12:00 AM
A bullet hole would be pretty small, and the bilge pumps would likely be able to deal with the intake so long as the batteries provided power. It would be more plausible for the vessel to sink if the through-hull fitting burst.

Drachen Jager
06-09-2010, 12:07 AM
It's pretty improbable yeah. Yacht hulls are built to withstand minor mid-ocean collisions with rocks, other boats, semi sunken sea-containers etc. I highly doubt a pistol shot would even penetrate the hull of a good seaworthy yacht, never mind sink it!

thothguard51
06-09-2010, 12:17 AM
Well, if the pistol shot pierced a gass line and a spark ignited the gas, then yes, a pistol shot could sink the yatch, but there wouldn't be much left to raise...

Homewrecker
06-09-2010, 02:51 AM
I've heard of a flare gun being shot into a hull, resulting in a fire, and then the sinking but that may just be legend.

Cheers!

thothguard51
06-09-2010, 03:43 AM
Magnesium will burn through just about anything...

Stanmiller
06-09-2010, 03:54 AM
As they say on MythB*sters, ramp it up. I have the S&W .500 Mag. Who has the yacht?

Variously
06-09-2010, 03:28 PM
Thanks to everyone for your replies. The message I'm getting is that this isn't a very probable occurance and I should think again.

On reflection it would actually be useful if the yacht sank later on in the story, so you've done me a favour. I googled under "through hull fitting" inspired by Noah's post, and that has some possibilities. Any suggestions on more realistic reasons why a boat might sink than my original 'single bullet' idea?

Wayne K
06-09-2010, 03:39 PM
So you won't even consider writing my father into the story?

:D

Stanmiller
06-09-2010, 03:56 PM
Thanks to everyone for your replies. The message I'm getting is that this isn't a very probable occurance and I should think again.

On reflection it would actually be useful if the yacht sank later on in the story, so you've done me a favour. I googled under "through hull fitting" inspired by Noah's post, and that has some possibilities. Any suggestions on more realistic reasons why a boat might sink than my original 'single bullet' idea?

Durn. Now what am I going to do with this crew I hired to film your boat sinking?

Wayne K
06-09-2010, 03:58 PM
Jackass 3?

Noah Body
06-09-2010, 04:36 PM
Thanks to everyone for your replies. The message I'm getting is that this isn't a very probable occurance and I should think again.

On reflection it would actually be useful if the yacht sank later on in the story, so you've done me a favour. I googled under "through hull fitting" inspired by Noah's post, and that has some possibilities. Any suggestions on more realistic reasons why a boat might sink than my original 'single bullet' idea?

There are a lot of safeguards built into vessels these days, especially since most builders are building to ABYC or NMMA standards. If you can specify the type of boat--"yacht" encompasses vessels from over 35 feet to hundreds of feet long, and they can be trawlers, sportfishers, express cruisers, even bigger center consoles, and of course sailboats--and the kind of mission it will perform, that might help get a more direct answer.

Most sinkings occur from failure of a through hull fitting, such as a raw water intake for an engine or a sea chest. The stuffing box (where the drive shaft exits the boat) can be a source of consternation, especially after a grounding--it's not normally the hull which is going to bust open, it's the running gear crashing through the bottom of the boat.

And then there's hull types and construction... monohull, catamarans, fiberglass, wood, steel, aluminum, even composites... there's a lot to take into consideration if you want to strive for reality.

Variously
06-10-2010, 01:51 AM
Thanks Noah. The setting I have in mind is Chelsea Harbour in London, and a boat like the white one in the foreground here.

http://www.thames-path.org.uk/images/20080217_023.jpg

I was inspired by an agency advertising such a boat for rent as a live in houseboat, presumably aimed at wealthy commuters who would use it as a pad to live in during the working week, with the occasional cruise along the Thames.

Kalyke
06-10-2010, 04:53 AM
So wouldn't it be funny if it was an ocean going sailboat with a fairly long keel and the guy shot it and the keel prevented the boat from sinking because the marina was only 6 feet deep or something like that?

Noah Body
06-10-2010, 05:10 PM
Thanks Noah. The setting I have in mind is Chelsea Harbour in London, and a boat like the white one in the foreground here.

http://www.thames-path.org.uk/images/20080217_023.jpg

I was inspired by an agency advertising such a boat for rent as a live in houseboat, presumably aimed at wealthy commuters who would use it as a pad to live in during the working week, with the occasional cruise along the Thames.

That's a sedan bridge, a cruiser with the helm station on top. Same things still apply with regards to using a firearm to sink it.

JimmyB27
06-11-2010, 06:16 PM
Ahoy there, nautical AWers- could a pistol sink a yacht?
It could...if the driver gets shot, slumps over the steering wheel and the boat veers off to the left or to the right and into a rock.

(Wonder how long it'll take before I get picked up on some of that boating terminology. :D)

frimble3
06-12-2010, 10:01 AM
Sure you don't want burning? Gas fumes settle in the bilge, a spark and there you go: explosion and burning to the waterline. In the right circumstances, it could spread to other boats, docks, etc. General chaos as other people try to save their boats by a) fighting the fire, b) getting their boats unmoored and away, c) trying to haul the burning wreck away from the other boats, or d) all, simultaneously.
Works well with wealthy commuters who get used to thinking of it as an apartment, not a boat. Even experienced people make mistakes.

Noah Body
06-13-2010, 12:15 AM
Just make sure the vessel in question doesn't have diesel engines. :)

StephanieFox
06-14-2010, 05:31 AM
It might work if you shot the captain.

frimble3
06-14-2010, 08:32 AM
Yes! No-one at the wheel as the boat heads for the rocks!

Nivarion
06-14-2010, 09:13 AM
Well, I don't know much about ships, but I do know guns.

For it to be sunk you need either a very fast bullet or a very large one. Fast bullets fragment on contact with water, within a couple of inches. And bullets big enough to make it through water and still have appreciable penetrating power are a bit large for a personal arm.

So to even feasibly cause it to even make the ship take water it would have to go through the hull from the inside.

:D in my terminology, if you accidentally shoot the wall of the room your in, its called missing. So if you just want it accidentally hit it'll have to go through the hull not once, but twice.

And then for it to sink you'd also have to take care of the bilge pump. If your shooting something that can go through the hull twice, shouldn't be too hard. Just have the pump hit.

I suggest a rifle instead of a pistol.

STKlingaman
06-14-2010, 10:51 AM
Pistol shot kills the person steering the ship.
Loss of control, the ship runs into something
(another ship, iceberg, rock outcropping, etc.)
and sinks.