When Derek built ‘Minnow’ (Enuf) he incorporated enough polystyrene to keep her afloat in the event of severe flooding. Each to his own, but I never added internal buoyancy to ‘Faith’, believing the chances of her succumbing to being swamped were negligible, at least in the conditions and waters were I would be sailing. I was not keen on having a significant amount of space taken up by voluminous polystyrene, especially in the lazarette where Matt’s plans showed four bins made from plywood. One of them was occupied by a gimballed stove; another was for an anchor, and the remainder were for miscellaneous items, perhaps warps and fenders.
A characteristic of polystyrene that I dislike is that when rubbed, small pieces break off. These fragments appear to be charged with static electricity that causes them to have magnetic properties making them adhere to whatever they come into contact. In ‘Minnow’s’ case, I found loads of pieces lodged in the bilges.
A significant factor that I had not considered was the flammable nature of polystyrene. Richard Green, who frequently contributes to this blog with useful comments, drew my attention to the added risk of rapidly spreading fire because of the polystyrene. He suggested I should test it to ascertain if it was flammable. The experiment demonstrated that it was very flammable and the flames produced a deadly black smoke - the sort that would have you unconscious in seconds! This convinced me I should remove all polystyrene from ‘Minnow’.
Today, that was my task, and I’m pleased the mission was accomplished. My local Council advises that I can dispose of polystyrene in my non-recyclable waste bin. No doubt the Council’s rubbish collection workmen will get rid of it in the most environmentally friendly way. I shall be glad to see the back of it.