17 dead after duck boat sinks at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri


Like I said it was a f/g dinghy. Under 10’.
Added two inspection ports to do it (and one for another modification) wedged them down within the hulls freeboard so when we were overloaded it helped with buoyancy. It did work because we did before and afters.

It wasn’t significant but it did help. I got the idea from multihull cruisers (28’+) doing it to their watertight chambers and/or non fore and aft ends for less pitching (but that’s a whole other thread).


before this train jumps the tracks permanently, let’s steer clear of dingies and waterbottles are get back to DUKWs


I brought it up to add onto the external/hull buoyancy options. The concept being talked about…


fine and thank you but what you brought up has the potential to derail a worthy thread


It is a part b to my question of if the boat was overweight by its passengers. Does anyone know if there is a weight limit on these boats or is it just passengers? Sorry, but a lot of obese people in that region of the country and I have been wondering if that added to the sinking and if they posed a hazard (blocling ways to get out etc, might sound harsh, but it was close quarters).


The normal legal limit for vehicle width in the US is 8.5 feet (not including mirrors). It is very easy to get overwidth permits for a reasonable fee that allow up to 12 feet wide. My guess is that if these these DUCKs were fitted with permanent sponsons they could buy annual state permits to drive overwidth vehicles on public streets.

I assume DUCK operators already have commercial passenger bus licenses to drive passengers on public roads.


The DUKW has a payload of 2300 kg or 24 troops, 95.8 kg per person but that includes weapons, ammo and other gear. Overweight could be a problem that eats away the GM pretty quickly. I calculated the average weight of the American man and woman at 79.4 kg. With a number a children on board this will be a little less. With 31 persons the overweight is 161 kg and that is a weight placed rather high in the Duck which does not improve the stability. In this situation there is no room for ballast at the bottom of the cargo hold to improve the stability. The conclusion is that, by the looks of it, these ‘boats’ are marginally operated in respect of stability and thus safety.

A number of obese passengers does not improve the situation, on the contrary. They are also less agile and have less chances to survive such disasters. Ah well, the Dutch are in the clear, we are a skinny lot, the thinnest in Europe, but then we do a lot of bicycling and pump out water to remain dry…Obesity is 13% here and in the US 38%. For some proof, see here. These cows are a clever lot that take ample revenge for killing them by clogging in stealth mode your arteries.


Not really, it serves to illustrate just how ignorant many (most?) recreational boaters are about basic hydrodynamics. I remember a thread wherein one of the “gurus” argued that adding structure aft of the transom moved the LCG forward.

There are many similarities in this thread which appear to have the same origin.


“It is very easy to get overwidth permits for a reasonable fee that allow up to 12 feet wide.”

It might not be as easy as you think, at least in Missouri. Oversize permits are valid for seven days. You cannot travel on major holidays, and from noon the day before a major holiday. During the tourist season (July 1 - Labor Day), you cannot get an oversize permit on Saturday and Sundays within 10 miles of Branson. If the vehicle is more than 12’4" wide, you need an escort…It would seem that these restrictions would make prevent the regular use of sponsons.


“Recreation boaters” might have some large gaps in stability calculations, but for the most part recreational boaters do not operate these duck boats. The people that do presumably know something about it or faked it for the test.


It’s similar in my state, except that you can buy annual oversized permits up to 12 feet wide. I forget the cost, but it’s reasonable. The state troopers are the only cops that know the rules. Local cops don’t know or care. Plus, there are a lot of boats up to 14 feet wide being hauled on hydraulic trailers on the public roads, very few have the required escorts. The cops look the other way on that.

Effective sponsons on the DUCKs could be keep under 12 foot total width. Inflatable sponsons would not add much length.

I’m not sure these DUCks are a good idea as tour boats anyway. Why not just stick to conventional boats?



At 17.09 hr I sent an e-mail to Viking Splash Tours in Dublin with a question about the sponsons on there Ducks when driving on land. At already 17.52 hr I got a reply to my question!

Hi Ferry,

Thank you for your e-mail.

Our regulations are also those of the EU i.e. our vehicle can be no wider than 2.55m on the road
Our sponsons are only applied prior to entering the water and are removed as soon as we exit.
At no time are the sponsons applied to the Dukw when it is on the road.
Hope this helps but I am happy to answer further questions if you have any.

Kind regards,

Fergal Rogers
Viking Splash Tours

I have a further question that I will ask and that is who regulates this business in Ireland and who is responsible for the certification.


During a night of 1978 or 79, driving on an empty, small road between villages, I came over a fleet of ships, or better, the came over me. It was in the region of the huge US Army Training Camp Grafenwöhr (Army slang = Camp Graffen); in northern Bavaria, near the then Iron Curtain to Czechia.

With hindsight, the ‘ships’ were probably LARC-V amphibious vehicles, with a beam of 3 m.

It was not a surprise; they were preceded by flashing Police and Army vehicles.
Nevertheless, I did not feel good with these ‘fast and high’ ships, crossing less than one meter away.


A) I don’t know where you got the idea that empty plastic bottles are heavy?! Do you know what FRP means? The most common type of hull construction for pleasure boats since the 1960s?

B) Empty plastic bottles has not only been used for buoyancy but also hull construction. Plastiki being the most proven out there. 60’ sailing multi made it just fine to Australia…built out of over 12,000 empty water bottles, including below the waterline.

But, yeah, we rec boat operators are obviously all a bunch of ignorant idiots.


Sorry C.Capt, perhaps the Puget Sound (Salish Sea?) heat is getting to me, but…

Just so that I’m understanding this properly, you cut a hole into a watertight compartment, filled it with empty waterbottles, then put a hatch back on it in the name of improving buoyancy? I just want to make sure that we’re talking about adding bottles within the hull, not external to the hull or in the cargo/passenger space of the hull.


Its a 10’ dinghy, old too, for our sailboat. We go over our payload at times during provision runs when cruising and hulling very heavy provisions (such as gallon water jugs and beer/wine), so we sit lower then, right?

We added an inspection port at the bow seat, we had to for the other mod (adding a custom sailing kit, so a mast step). We added water bottles, jammed em in there. We noticed some improvement so added another port to the stern seat and did the same. Not a major improvement but a little and it was a fun experiment.


That’s not how buoyancy works. Not even in the slightest. If you have an existing watertight compartment you gain next to nothing by cutting it open and putting empty waterbottles into it. If you were talking about installing the bottles outside of the hull I could see an improvement in buoyancy. If you were talking about installing the bottles in the passenger/cargo space I could see an improvement when the boat swamps (mostly by reducing the amount of water that can get into the boat, similar to flotation bags in a canoe or kayak), but what you’ve described won’t do what you’re thinking that it does. This isn’t my opinion, this is physics. The only possible advantage of putting the bottles in is if you hull were to be holed below the waterline. The bottles would prevent water from completely filling the watertight compartment.

Idiots? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. As for ignorant, in this case you most certainly are.


Well many others have done this. I guess we are a special group of idiots, Lol!


I am thinking that I somehow landed in the wrong thread like in a bad dream. What has this to do with the subject of the drama of a floundered Duck? Kind of embarrassing conversation about stupid empty bottles. What’s next…