Tsunami-Proof Ark Floats Our Boat

A designer who's never sailed before wants to be prepared for the worst.

Maybe Noah was just preparing for a tsunami with that ark. Designer Chris Robinson has never sailed a boat before, but he's spent the past two years working on a wooden tsunami-proof boat in his backyard.

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After a tsunami hit Japan in early 2011, Robinson began wondering how he and his family in Palo Alto, California, might survive such a brutal event. What began as a playful conversation about personal jetpacks and balloon houses turned into a real project called Tsunamiball, Robinson explained in his blog.

The designer, who met his wife more than 20 years ago in Fukushima, sketched his ideas with Adobe Illustrator and asked engineers for help with the calculations, Biz Carson reported in Wired. A submarine-shaped boat made from wood sounds absurd, but Robinson insists he considered all materials first.

The outer hull will be two-and-a-half inches of marine-grade plywood covered in xyletol and epoxy, he explained on his site. "Xyletol is a very abrasion resistant polyester material. When combined with epoxy it is very similar to Kevlar." The framing and initial layers of the exterior hull are done. Once he completes the outer shell, he plans to test the Tsunamiball in a pool and then in the ocean.

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His plan might be bonkers, but Robinson isn't a survivalist. He's even said he thinks a tsunami is unlikely to hit California. "The project is about building this awesome and unique thing and not about any end of the world," he wrote. And if the water tests don't pan out, he'll have one heck of a guest house.

Credit: Chris Robinson