Design Review: Sailboat Model

For my final project, I will make a model sailboat, but put it in an old fish tank full of water and make it float!


Most model sailboats simply sit in a cradle or mounted on a wall, but I think it would be more interesting to see the boat and how it floats. I will build a model boat that floats and behaves in the water much like a proper boat. I will introduce waves to the tank, and the observer will be able to watch and see how the boat rocks, heels, and lists in the waves.


The aesthetic: I will paint the background of the tank with scenes from “The Perfect Storm”, and put sunken hulks on the bottom of the tank. The aesthetic will be a stormy sea, the setting of many of my favorite movies and books: “We Didnt Mean to go to Sea”, “Master and Commander”, “The Perfect Storm”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, etc.


My prototype represents the model boat in the tank, with water filled up part of the way and a scene painted on the back of the tank.


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9 Comments. Leave new

  • Branden Goldenberg
    March 20, 2017 11:38 am

    Great idea! At first I was confused on where the dynamic aspect was coming from, but once I understood the flowing water idea I was sold. The changing backgrounds add a fun changing aesthetic idea. Adding some fish to the tank could be a cool addition as well.

  • Connor Swanson
    March 20, 2017 11:19 am

    I love the idea of the floating aspect being your dynamic. Hopefully it all works out as planned and a fish can actually live inside

  • I am beyond stoked to see how this project comes out. The dynamic aspect of this is definitely unique and I hope its function doubles as a suitable place for fish to live as well

  • One of the most interesting ideas I have seen so far. My favorite part is that you’re taking it beyond just making a model boat. Model boats have their own aesthetic, but now you’ll be almost making a full piece of art. I’m interested to see how you choose to do things with water and decoration. What do you plan on doing with it when you finish?

  • Kyle Aulwurm
    March 19, 2017 3:24 pm

    Really cool project idea. Are you thinking of making the model boat out of wood? You might have to figure out how to waterproof the model, just in case some gets caught on the deck while its being pushed around by the waves. I’m really interested in seeing how this turns out. This is great because you’ll be able to focus your aesthetic in the tank, the model itself, and the background image.

  • Great idea! Very nice prototype model. I agree that the scenery and fish tank filled with water will really add to the project so spending time working on that portion of the aesthetic and project is very worthwhile. Great job!

  • Oksana Schuppan
    March 17, 2017 12:40 pm

    This design has really taken shape. I look forward to seeing the different scenes you depict. I also love your idea to add live fish to the tank…so long as the waves aren’t too strong. So great!

  • Benjamin Fried
    March 16, 2017 5:11 pm

    Ryan, this is a really interesting idea. Having grown up near the ocean, this is something I would definitely pay money for! You should look online and see if you can purchase a boat, this way you can put your efforts towards creating cool back scenes, adding fish to your tank, and adding other ocean going things to make it look realistic. How are you going to print off the big images? You could always use a large plotter, but if you can figure out a way to make it look more realistic (a hologram), that could be neat. If you can figure out a way to make waves and current, that could also be neat.

  • Great project idea. It seems like a shame that ships in bottles never get to experience water like they were designed to, so it is great to see a model perform like the original. An idea for getting your fish tank to move is to build a crank on the side that powers a propeller in the water to produce waves.


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