Patent application title: FLOTATION/HYDRATION DEVICE
Edwin L. Patton (San Antonio, FL, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65D2500FI
Class name: Receptacles floating container
Publication date: 2011-12-22
Patent application number: 20110309085
A recreational and/or lifesaving device comprising a floating foam hull
comprising cavities a which securely retain stores of bottled water
easily for consumption over time, preventing dehydration of a person
adrift. In another embodiment, the hull comprises at least one cut-out,
which can be used by a wading fisherman to humanely store catch items
1. A flotation device comprising: a hull of a foam material comprising:
polyurethane or polyethylene, said hull having a length in the range of
from about 12 to about 60 inches, a width in the range of from about 12
to about 60 inches, an average thickness in the range of from about 2 to
about 6 inches, and a circular, oval or polygonal cutout having a widest
dimension in the range of from about 8 to about 20 inches; said hull
comprising a bowed front; a netted enclosure extending through the cutout
from the upper surface to the lower surface; a series of perimeter holes,
symmetrically placed around the permeter of the hull, extending from the
upper surface, through the lower surface: a line or rope, synthetic or
natural, threaded around the perimeter of the hull through the series of
perimeter holes; a single perimenter hole at the perimeter of the bowed
front, said perimeter on the long axis of the hull; and a tether threaded
upward through the single perimeter hole such that it is joined to the
line or rope, optionally in the recesses of the hole in the single
REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/187,525, filed Jun. 16, 2009, which is hereby incorporated by reference.
FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 Fishing, boating and swimming and other water recreation has increased in popularity in the past few years, particularly because of the availability of local waterways, bays and ocean access. Particularly attractive are salt and brackish water areas which are proximal to or part of oceanic waters. Many feel that the "sporting" element is heightened by the opportunity to land aggressive fishes which are high in the food chain. The ocean, whether near shore or out on the open water, entails risks which are not part of freshwater recreation. These risks add to the excitement, as well as the danger. For instance, many don't realize that even though one is surrounded by water, many deaths at sea are caused by dehydration. The salt content of ocean water exceeds the salt concentrations in human tissue. This, dehydration can begin to occur within hours of being set adrift on the open ocean. The onset of dehydration can be accompanied by fatigue and confusion, both of which decrease the chances of survival of one who is adrift.
 While floatation devices, such as life jackets or life boats have been in use for much of history, the most important factor in survival of long periods adrift is the availability of fresh water. However, accidents which result in humans adrift in the ocean generally do not have the benefit of such foresight. Furthermore, while bottling water can keep it free from salt contamination, bottled water, because it's density is only slightly less than that of sea water, does not float high on the surface of the water. Any bottled water which happens to be cast adrift is not highly visible, and can be quickly scattered. The storage of bottled water supplies on boats is practiced, yet a boating accident can quickly make the bottled water unavailable at the moment it is most needed.
 Other water recreational activities are becoming popular, particularly those which do not require the use of boats. For example "waders" have exploited shallow waters such as tidal areas, streams, and other vital areas to catch fish, crabs and other water life which frequents shallow water. Waders frequently carry a water-filled pail or a bag on their person which is used to retain and carry their catch. They must also transport a rod and reel, and any other items, such as bait, tackle, auxiliary equipment such as an extra rod, for example, and any food or drinking liquids. It is not unusual for a wader to go through the inconvenience of emptying a full pail into a cooler or ice chest onshore and return to the shallows to continue fishing.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to flotation devices which, in some embodiments, can function in a lifesaving capacity, and in additional embodiments, can fulfill auxiliary but essential capacities such as aiding recreational and professional fishermen, crabbers, particularly waders, and other harvesters of seafood or other marine products The invention comprises a floatable hull. In the lifesaving or emergency capacity, the floatable hull comprises cavities in which containers, preferably bottles, of sustaining liquids, and/or waterproof food stuffs, emergency flares, and the like are tightly but removably held, in proximity to a water bound individual such as a person adrift, a snorkel diver, or other. In some embodiments, once the hull has been wetted, such as in an accident involving a boat overturning, the cavity sockets contract around the containers, holding them together and preventing them from scattering and sinking. In the recreational capacity, the hull comprises a netted containing system for keeping catch alive and fresh.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 The details of the invention, both as to its structure and operation, may be obtained by a review of the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals refer to like parts, and in which:
 FIG. 1A is a schematic of an embodiment of a life saving float;
 FIG. 1B is a profile of a cavity;
 FIG. 2 is a life saving float enrobed in epoxy floating upright;
 FIG. 3 is a life saving float in turbulent conditions;
 FIG. 4 is a life saving float inverted without releasing its hydration cargo;
 FIG. 5 is an embodiment of the recreational float;
 FIG. 6 is the recreational float depicting the netted enclosure over the cut out; and
 FIG. 7 is alternate view of FIG. 6.
 In one embodiment, the hull is comprised of a synthetic foam such as polyurethane foams polyethylene foams or other synthetic foams. In one embodiment, the hull comprises a foam in the class known as cross-linked polyethylene foams, such as chemically-cross-linked polyethylene foams. Some other preferred hull materials are polyurethane compositions comprising in the range of from about 90 to 99 wt % synthetic urethane polymer (CAS 59676-67-1), and in the range of from about 1 to 10 wt % Diphenylmethane diisocyanate. A preferred composition comprises in the range of from about 94 to 96 wt % synthetic urethane polymer and 4 to 6 wt % Diphenylmethane diisocyanate. However, other synthetic materials can be used as long as they are buoyant and float at or above the water surface when bearing their intended load.
 One advantage of the present invention is that some of the preferred materials, for example, synthetic urethane polymer containing Diphenylmethane diisocyanate, swell to a degree in salt and fresh water, during at least the initial hour of so of exposure, such that the cavities retain their contents with increasing tightness.
 In a preferred embodiment, the foam hull is encased on the bottom and sides in a material, such as an epoxy, which, in some embodiments, acts to partially or fully constrain the water-induced expansion of the hull. In such embodiments, the narrowing of the cavities caused by the swelling of the hull can be exacerbated. In one embodiment, the coating has tabs which can be pulled such that the coating separates from the hull, which can facilitate extraction of bottles from the hull. In a preferred embodiment, the coating is a color which can be seen from a distance, such as, for example, hunter's orange, or international orange. In some embodiments, the coating is fluorescent or phosphorescent.
 In different embodiments, the coating material covers the entire hull except for the openings to the cavities; the coating covers the top surface only to the extent that it stops at the edges of a figure defined by the containers, shown in FIG. 1a. In another embodiment, the bottom surface is uncoated. It should be noted that allowing parts of the upper surface to remain uncoated increases the rate of absorption of water, and concomitant cavity tightening.
 In one preferred embodiment, the hull is fashioned of a polyurethane composition and is a parallelepiped in shape, having square upper and lower surfaces, with all vertices being right angles. Preferably, the upper square surface has cavities which can grippingly receive the bases of standard 8 ounce bottles of liquid. In one embodiment, the cavities are circular cylinders having diameters of approximately 2 and 3/8 inches, arranged in a regular square grid, and the thickness of the hull is in the range of from about 5 to about 2 inches, and in a preferred embodiment, about 3 inches. The cylindrical cavities have depths in the range of from about 2 to about 4 inches. With at least 0.25 inches of material at the bottom of the cavity to adequately support the bottled liquid. A preferred depth is 2.5 inches, shown in FIG. 1b. In other embodiments, the holes extend through the hull, such that the bottled liquids are held securely, but protrude from the bottom of the hull.
 In general, regardless of the size receptacles to be inserted into the hull, it is preferred that the cavities or holes are sized such that they grippingly receive the bases of the receptacles. In a preferred embodiment, the cavities in the hull have a dry diameter of about 2 and 3/8 inches, and the hull grippingly receives at least one type of standard eight ounce bottle.
 In a preferred embodiment, the present invention comprises a tether which is attached to the hull. The tether can be of any strong cord, such as natural or synthetic multi-ply or woven cords. It is preferably a light color, and in some embodiments, is fluorescent or phosphorescent. It can be attached by means known in the art which withstand marine or freshwater conditions, at least for a length of time which coincides with human survivability adrift, and preferably indefinitely.
 The present invention has the ability to secure a water or other hydration supply in the event a boater or other water passenger becomes adrift at sea. It can float upright indefinitely (FIG. 2). In turbulent conditions, the hydration cargo is held securely (FIG. 3). Upon inverting, the containers generally stay within their cavities (FIG. 4), and the exposure of the area surrounding the upper edge of the cavities to water can increase the grip of the hull on the hydration cargo.
 In another embodiment the invention comprises a hull which is suitable for towing by waders or others who harvest sea life in relatively shallow water. Referring to FIG. 5, The hull additionally comprises a cut out (10), preferably encompassing the intersection of the long and short axes of the hull. The cut out is preferably discoid and passes entirely through the thin dimension of the hull (20), and in preferable embodiments, has substantially equal areas on either side of the long axis. The cutout has suspended through it a hamper for depositing fish, crabs, etc that are harvested by the wader. See FIGS. 6 and 7 in which an exemplary netted enclosure is displayed (30), undeployed, atop a hull corresponding to the recreational embodiment. In operation, the netted enclosure is suspended through a cut out (not shown) which is under the netted enclosure. The net is suspended through the opening. In some embodiments, the means is a rigid hoop (40) which is larger in diameter than the cutout. The animals are thus kept in an environment identical to their own which will not fluctuate with respect to critical values, such as dissolved oxygen content, temperature, pH, all of which are known to swing wildly in value when animals are introduced into a closed environment: pH decreases with the production of carbon dioxide, dissolved oxygen content falls with time, temperature can climb or fall over short periods of time if a closed container is left in the sun, or shade, respectively. Nitrates and ammonia content increase as fish and crustaceans excrete nitrogenous wastes, which also affects pH, etc. In one embodiment, the hamper is a netted bag which trails into the water below the hull, comprising a draw string or other means of closure. In one embodiment, the drawstring pulls shut the net bag at a height which is below the bottom of the hull. In another embodiment, the drawstring pulls the bag shut at a point on the bag which is above the hull. In another embodiment, the bag is closed by an elastic strip which gathers the mouth of the bag together, such that the harvested animals cannot escape.
 Referring to an exemplary embodiment of the recreational hull, FIG. 5, the hull can be in the range of from about 12 to about 60 inches in length (50) and 12 to 60 inches wide (60). A suitable thickness (70) is in the range of from about 2 inches to about 6 inches. The cut-out preferably has a diameter in the range of from about 8 to 20 inches. It is preferred that the cut-out be centered at a point along the long axis of the hull. In some embodiments, the cut-out is not discoid, but has a shape which is longer along one axis than another. For example, the cut-out may have an oval shape, such that it is narrower along one axis than it is along the perpendicular axis. Such a case is appropriate for fish and crustaceans which are predisposed to leap from the net enclosure. In one embodiment, the net enclosure extends laterally under the hull to such a degree that the animals in the enclosure can benefit from large amounts of swimming space during the period of wading, yet they are prevented from leaping from the net enclosure due to the narrowed cut-out in the hull. If the cut-out has one dimension which is longer than the other, it is preferred that the long dimension of the cut-out be along the long dimension of the hull. Because the hull can have the capacity to keep afloat at least 100 pounds of gear and supplies, it is preferred that "corners" in the cut out, such as might appear in the case of an oval of polygonal cutout be rounded out to prevent stresses which could propagate a split into the body of the hull due to the weight on the upper surface of the hull.
 The hull preferably has a forward portion which has a symmetric angular bow. For example, an angularly bowed front as in FIG. 5. In one embodiment, the corners at which the bowed section begins are rounded (not shown) for easier turning and aerodynamics. In another embodiment, the bowing is essentially angular, having an internal angle with the adjacent side of the hull in the range of from about 110 degrees to about 150 degrees. In a preferred embodiment, the internal angle is about 135 degrees. In a preferred embodiment, the forward most part of the bow, when viewed from above, is perpendicular to the sides of the hull. One advantage of the present design is that the hull can be fabricated from a single piece of foam substrate. The foam substrates discussed herein are generally conveniently available in pieces of uniform thickness. When viewed from the side, in one embodiment, the hull is preferably of uniform thickness throughout. However, it may be desirable to have a variable thickness. For example, if the hull is intended to bear large loads, such as, for example, 100 pounds or more, it may be desirable to have reinforcement thickness at areas in which load bearing increases chance of splitting. For example, it may be desirable that the hull be thickened at the edges to prevent buckling and splitting due to uneven distribution of load weight. In another embodiment, it may be desirable to have a hull which is thickened around the cutout because it could be expected that weight piled along the long axis of the hull would increase the likelihood of buckling and, possibly, splitting at the front and rear edges of the cutout. This would particularly be true if the cutout were oblong, with its long axis along the long axis of the hull.
 As with the lifesaving embodiment elucidated above, the present embodiment can also port bottled water or other fluids to prevent dehydration. As with the lifesaving embodiment, in a preferred embodiment, the bases of the water bottles are installed into cavities, (80) which are illustrated in FIG. 5 adjacent the cut-out. The sockets can be at other places on the hull, such as, for example, the rear of the hull, the front or the hull, or both. It is preferred but not essential that the sockets be positioned symmetrically with respect to the upper surface of the hull, such as illustrated in FIG. 5. As it could be expected that very rough surf or other extreme conditions could overturn the hull and scatter the water supply, one preferred embodiment comprises a hull comprising a polymer foam such as those mentioned above in connection with the lifesaving embodiment, in which exposure to water causes a slight swelling of the foam, which improves the grip of the socket upon the base of the bottle. The size of the socket required for a given size of bottled liquid can be easily gauged by conducting routine testing: preparing sockets of varying depths and widths and measuring the difference between the pre- and post-wetting force required to extract the bottle from the socket.
 In a further embodiment, the hull is partially or fully coated or enrobed in epoxy or other material which can partially or fully constrain the swelling of the hull material. In a further embodiment, the hull is selectively coated such that the swelling is maximized at the uncoated surfaces, such as, for example, the inner walls of the sockets which contact the bottled water or other liquid. It has been found that in both the lifesaving and wade fishing embodiments of the present invention, selectively applying a coating which dries to form a rigid layer, such as epoxy, increases the ability of the sockets to retain its contents. Thus, the hull can overturn and the contents of the sockets will remain consolidated in their sockets, available for use at will.
 In preferred embodiments, the front, bowed edge of the hull is beveled underward at an angle in the range of from about 85 degrees to about 60 degrees (90). Preferred is an angle in the range of from about 80 degrees to about 70 degrees. An angle of 76 degrees is illustrated.
 In a preferred embodiment, the wade fishing embodiment or the life-saving embodiment comprises a series of holes (100) around the perimeter of the hull, located in its upper surface, and penetrating through to its lower surface. A lightweight synthetic or natural line or rope can be strung through the holes around the perimeter of the hull. For example, the pattern of holes in FIG. 5 which are arranged in pairs, can be appropriately strung around the perimeter of the hull such that the rope passes on the underside of the hull between close holes of each pair, but on the upper side of the hull from the hole of one pair to the adjacent hole of the adjacent pair. At the apex of the bowed front, it is preferable to have a single hole (110), through which is threaded upward, a piece of rope to act as a tether. Surprisingly, the combination of the bevel and the upwardly threaded tether reduces the tendency of the hull to pull through waves. Rather, the hull is easily pulled over waves, keeping the tackle and other gear loaded onto the hull relatively dry.
 In other embodiments, the hull is sturdy enough to mount rod holders (120), such as the kind available from White cap industries in New Jersey.
 For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, specific embodiments have been described. It should nevertheless be understood that the description is intended to be illustrative and not restrictive in character, and that no limitation of the scope of the invention is intended. Any alterations and further modifications in the described components, elements, processes, or devices, and any further applications of the principles of the invention as described herein, are contemplated as would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention relates.
Patent applications in class FLOATING CONTAINER
Patent applications in all subclasses FLOATING CONTAINER