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Hull Windows to Subsurface Views...?

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by Laurence, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. Laurence

    Laurence Senior Member

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    The posts in this thread have been split from the "Northern Marine Capsizing" thread to create a new topic...

    "Hull Windows to Subsurface Views".


    Who builds (or buys) a ocean-going (or any) boat with windows at the boot stripe?
  2. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Any meathead with money.
  3. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    As it turns out, one of those windows may have saved a life. How ironic.
  4. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    These guys and a whole lot of others ... tossing in "any boat" includes some interesting inland river boats with picture windows at water level.

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  5. HTMO9

    HTMO9 Senior Member

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    Marmot, the lowest windows at those liners are only crew cabins :D. Sorry, I could not resist.

    The good thing is, on new ships, those cabins are not allowed to be below the waterline any more. But there are still some Megayachts around with the crew cabins on the tank deck level.

    Some of these river cruise liners (this picture shows a river boat on the most beautiful part of the Rhine River in Germany) have variable draft with ballast tanks, in order to reduce airdraft for some bridges. In the deepest draft position, those windows may be completely below water. And these are pessenger cabins. But those windows are made to submerge. During normal cruise, they are above the water, but flooded by waves from opposite traffic.

    Most of our inland cargo vessels have whellhouses with hydraulic lift to have both, reasonable visibility and minimum airdraft. In good old Europe, everything is a little bit smaller, even the rivers. But river cruises in Europe are a big business all over the continent.

    But as the navy guys say, it is not advisable, to sleep in a sub with open windows :p.
  6. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Used to doze off behind this window once in a while when waiting for the topside world to do their thing.

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  7. HTMO9

    HTMO9 Senior Member

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    I have had two submerged rides in a sub in my life. One in a German navy sub during my time in the military and one ride in one of those little subs with a big bubble window.

    I did not like the first one in that conventionel navy sub at all. Narrow, humid, only one toilet and shower for 26 sailors and no windows at all. The galley 2 by 2 meters and worst of all, two man had to share a bunk. One on watch, the other asleep. Only the senior NCO and officers had their own bed. I must admid, this young Airforce Lt was already totally spoiled at that time and more than happy to get out of this boat after 24 hours :eek:.

    The other one was last year in one of those Dutch leasure subs, where 3 people could sit under a big plastic bubble and safely dive to 1000 ft with great visibility all around. One of those subs, the Moonen yacht Sofia carries around. The ride took about an hour and went down to app. 300 ft in cristal clear water. A great experience, I must say. Whenever I will feel the need for a ride in a sub in the future, I will do it only in one of those with big windows and not shooting torpedos at nice ships from a submerged coffin. IMO, Subs are not the primary means of transportation for an honest sailor :).
  8. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    One of the principles of boating I learned very early was that the intent is to stay on top of the water. I continue to think that way. No subs for me.
  9. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Here is one of the other boats we used for deeper work (2000m), the view wasn't quite as panoramic. But, the dives were longer ... it took 90 minutes to get to the bottom a mile down and another hour to get back up so there was lots of time to snooze.

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  10. HTMO9

    HTMO9 Senior Member

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    Deep sea subs

    Marmot, that is far beyond my scope of tourist and leasure type submarines. These things are purely reserved for professionals, you need professinal divers in stby to assist, a decompression chamber and a medical specialist for diving mishaps.

    I have high esteem for those pros, handling this type of equipment safely and with the neccessary respect for this hostile enviroment down in that darkness. I am afraid, I would go claustrophobic, 2000 meter deep in the ocean. The same reason, I never did any cave diving. Be unable to return to the surface would be a nightmare for me.

    I rather stick to those little leasure subs and watch the underwater world. When doing scuba diving in my age, I rather stay above decompression depth.

    The little sub below, IMHO is the maximum, a well trained semipro can handle. But it was really a lot of fun to pilot one of those little devils.

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  11. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    We had a very healthy respect for the environment, a great appreciation of the technology, and a young man's view of his own immortality.

    Funny as it might seem it is very much like instrument flying with a view. You feel safe and secure in a little electronic womb surrounded by a hostile environment. The risk was actually very low and the rewards extraordinary in every respect.

    Much of the experience was wasted on young techie geeks.
  12. YachtForums

    YachtForums Administrator

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    The posts in this thread have been split from the "Northern Marine Capsizing" thread to create a new topic... "Hull Windows to Subsurface Views".

    Let's all try to keep threads on topic!
  13. MountainGuy

    MountainGuy Member

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    Actually many (most new) sailing boats do have hull windows. They are often below surface, depending of course, wind and wave conditions.
  14. HTMO9

    HTMO9 Senior Member

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    Submerged hull windows

    Yes, hull windows or like our british friends call them, port lights are very common on modern sailboat designs. They take the "living in the basement" effect away to a certain extend.

    On normal sized sailboats, designers only have the choise between a flushdeck design (where everybody sits in the basement) or any kind of deckhouse design, where at least the salon is (partially) above main deck level. Men, mostly interested in the sailing part of these boats, can live with that effect. Women, which are more interested in the comfort and living part of a sailboat design, mostly hate this basement effect. My deceased wife ultimately declared, that her sailing career would be ending, if I would not provide a type of sailboat with always level decks and sheltered living space above main deck level (a catamaran !). To bad, I had no chance to answer her desire anymore.

    But for a bluewater sailer it is absolutely normal, to wake up in the morning or after his watch below, with only green water outside his port light, because the boat is heeling. Even for classed sailboats there are hull windows available (fixed windows, which are flush to the outside of the hull), that cleared for submerged operation to a certain depth. With tinted glass on a dark blue hull, you would not even notice those windows from the outside at all.

    In megayacht designs, sometimes permanently submerged windows appear on the wishlist of ambitioned owners. Observation windows in a wellness area below the waterline and / or bottom windows for example. Observation seats with front and side windows (?!!!) in the bulbus bow of a larger yacht, in order to watch the dolphins while on cruise :eek:. Think of the craziest idea, they will ask for it.

    The really most complicated and expensive windows are the ones in one of Marmots deep sea subs. I have seen a window glass, where the sickness of the glass was almost greater than its diameter. And this glass was cristal clear as a diamond and without the slightest distortion. This window was planned for a manned research sub, cleared for a depth of up to 30.000 ft. It was the same type of glass, they make lenses for large telescopes out of. (to watch the man on the moon :D).

    The technology in glass for yachting has advanced very much in the recent years. As some may remember, how much trouble Larry Ellison had with his 3D curved, tinted and switching glass type windows on his little yacht Rising Sun and then looking at the newest designs of large yachts, with its much greater glassed areas on hull and superstructure, might imagine the advance in technology, production methods and quality of those products.

    Todays glass for yachts are not just sheets of clear plastic or minerals any more. They are very complicated pieces of modern technology. The can change the degree of tinting and its colour, switch from clear up to totally obscured, produce electrical energy via solar rays, turn from clear glass into an TV screen, are bullet proof and most of all, come in any curvature, shape and size. Like on modern cars, glass has become intergral part of the structure of the yacht. You only have to pay for it.

    I am waiting for a megayacht design with at least the superstructure completely out of glass :cool:.

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  15. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Viewports are an interesting component, failure is definitely not an option.

    All of our boats used domes and viewports made of "Plexiglas G" acrylic. Viewports on the deep diving Pisces class boats used conical ports 14" diameter outside and 6" inside. The photo shows a good view of the installation with a fishes eye view of an occupant. Because of the angles and the optics, even though the interior was small, the view outside was panoramic.

    The port was fitted into a conical machined housing with an O-ring and light retaining ring outside and nothing but a bit of silicone grease between the port and the housing.

    A curious and at first disturbing characteristic of those plastic viewports was that on the surface the interior of the port was flush with the machined housing but at depths beyond 1000m or so the port would begin to extrude inside the personnel sphere a small but obvious amount.

    That is the beauty of plastic ports, they can relieve strain by flowing whereas glass, while it can withstand amazing pressure when shaped and mounted correctly, will fail suddenly and catastrophically without warning if there is any scratch or imperfection. It is a scary unknown unless very very expensive manufacturing processes or exotic materials like sapphire are used. Beebe's bathysphere used 3" thick quartz windows to reach 900m but Trieste, the first vehicle to reach the bottom of the Marianas Trench at 11,000m used plexiglass.

    An alternative now is to eliminate viewports and use video cameras for exterior vision. I have seen this used on at least one large yacht for observing the propellers.

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  16. HTMO9

    HTMO9 Senior Member

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    Cameras instead of viewports

    That is exactly what I would choose, instead of this observation position in the bulbous bow. Several cameras in the bow and sitting in comfort in an nice armchair and watching the dolphins on some screens :D. Like on the newest cruise ships with their centerline cabins without windows. They have outside cameras installed with window like TV screens in the cabins, giving the illusion of an outside view.

    Those underwater cameras are installed already on most larger yachts, for watching the propulsion and steering gear, as Marmot stated, or as protection against "unpolite" divers. They can easily be routed to the entertainment system and eliminate the need for leaky windows below the waterline.

    I like those observation station, that can be lowered through the ships bottom and can host a group of people in comfort and safety. The have permanent access via a ladder and drinks are served by the stews via a rope :D. Fassmer has one of those lowering stations on their new explorer design.

    But there are much more crazy features on Megayachts, like underwater releasable subs, escape capsules, diver lockout chambers and submerged hull conformal sub type tenders. Name it, the build it.

    But as somebody with a latent claustrophobia, I still have a personal problem with deep sea subs. With the ever rising safety standards and costs (insurance), ROVs are getting more and more common in the offshore and scientific maritime business. These little devils can operate for a long time in the most hostile enviroment, have a high usefull load at rather small total size, because there is no need for living space, enviromental systems and any kind of creature comfort. HD cameras and advanced manipulator arms are easily remote controlled and displayed.

    I have seen videos of an ROV operating at a depth of 4.000 Meters and taking samples out of a Black Smoker in an outside water temperatures of above 200 Degrees Celsius. A person would have been boiled in that sub.

    Marmot, there are still windos in those ROVs but no pretty face behind them anymore :p.
  17. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    ROVs pretty much put commercial manned submersibles out of business for most purposes. For years we surveyed and buried trans Atlantic telephone cables out ot the edge of the continental shelf, performed surveys of North Sea pipelines and structures as well as recovered lost military "items."

    The oil industry was our biggest customer but insurance costs rose to the point where it was so much cheaper to drop a camera on a string than put an engineer on location so we kind of faded away. We were always too expensive for the researchers which was a real shame. Like I wrote earlier, a lot of what we saw was wasted on us.

    We got into the ROV side of operations as well and it was OK, but not all that exciting. One of the most interesting jobs was monitoring the well head at the Campeche Bay blowout that was until recently the biggest oil spill in history.

    The photo of the coil of umbilical was state of the art at the time, covered in crude oil with a flaming plume of natural gas and stinking crude 30m away in the background.

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