How Do Boats Float?

One of the most interesting questions of all time comes to the surface, and we all want to know the answer to it: how do boats float? This unique question has a rather easy answer, yet many do not know the truth behind it. Luckily with the right information, the age old question can be answered and then we'd all feel a little bit smarter.

To start off with, when we throw something heavy in water, it sinks right? So, how is it that something that weighs as much as a dozen cars, or more, floats? It seems irrational and impossible. Yet it happens, and we all look on the subject in awe. The reason boats float is because of the simple reason of buoyancy. Buoyancy can be described as what occurs when an object that is either fully or partially dispersed in fluid equals the weight of the fluid it is being dispersed in, thus creating the theory of buoyancy. This is the simple form of how a boat floats.

This theory was made apparent by a man named Archimedes, who did experiments in his bathtub. He realized that by putting something into the water, it made the water rise, and therefore water was displaced and the object floated in relation to its weight. When the water is displaced, and the weight is equal to the amount of water displaced, the object would then float. Hence, the ability to have a boat float. This is called the water to surface ratio.

In different experimentats, he figured that a bowling ball would sink, and a balloon filled with air will float because the density of the ball is far greater than that of a balloon. The water displacement is too great for the ball to float, and that is why it sinks. If a boat were made of concrete, and placed on water, the boat would not float because of the water to surface ratio. The density of the concrete boat would cause the boat to sink, not float.

Boats will float even when they are full of goods, or heavier objects, as long as the displacement is correct. One will notice that a heavier boat will float further down into the water, yet still not sink. A boat with a scarce amount of goods, will float higher up in the water. This is all dependent upon the water to surface ratio of the boat that is floating.

If a part of a boat is breached and water leaks in, then inevitably, the boat will take on water and its water disbursement amount will become greater than the boat itself and it will sink.

Overall, in order to have a boat float, it must meet the water to surface ratio, and the disbursement of the amount of weight the boat provides must be greater in its design in accordance with the water it is floating on. The design of a boat is important as well to make sure the boat continues to float. If the design fails, and the boat takes on water, then it will sink. However, if the design is sufficient and the boat does not take on water, it will continue to float on the surface of the water, permitting that it is not overloaded with goods that would increase its weight too much.


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