Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Stuart, Florida

Pooped is not scatalogical, at least not in nautical jargon. I'm going to explain getting pooped today in preparation for a new article to appear in a few days.

As you can see in the above illustration, a boat is pooped when a wave breaks over the stern. In the case of a power boat like the one above, getting pooped can be disastrous.

Picture the boat above getting pooped. The weight of all the water in the stern will push the stern down. Push it enough, and more water spills over the transom leading to sinking. Worse the next wave and the wave after that will also poop the boat until it is sunk. Excess weight of water on the decks and in the cockpit also reduces the stability of a boat and makes it more likely to capsize. And to further ruin the captain's day, getting pooped is likely to flood the engine compartment and stop the engines. Talk about bad things; getting pooped can cause the boat to start sinking, capsize and lose power all at the same time.

Think of all the pirate, and sailing ship movies you've ever seen. The helmsman and the officers stand on an elevated deck in the stern that's called the poop deck (see below). The purpose of the poop deck is to make is harder for waves to break across the stern.

Blue water vessels, like Tarwathie, have built in defenses to survive getting pooped. Most notably, they have small cockpits. Thus if the cockpit gets filled with water it weighs down the stern less. They also have large drains and scuppers to get rid of water on the decks as fast as possible.

bulwark: n A railing around the deck of a boat to keep things from going overboard and the seas from coming aboard.

scupper: n Drain holes on deck, in the toe rail, or in bulwarks or (with drain pipes) in the deck itself.

Have you noticed the graceful and beautiful lines on Tarwathie's bulwark? In the picture above, see how the bulwark curves downward just above the E in the boat name. On the bow, we have the same curves. Those curves are not just decorative. They allow excess water on the deck or in the cockpit to slide off the boat without obstruction. That can reduce excess flooding much faster than drains or scuppers. Thus, those curves are also part of Tarwathie's defenses.

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