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A Central Asian version of the Middle East’s hyper-saline Dead Sea (bbc.com)
38 points by MiriamWeiner 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments

As others have noted, the issue isn’t that boats can’t float — it’s that they float too much and can become unstable.

The counter-intuitive title that makes this such juicy clickbait should be changed to “a lake so salty that some boats capsize”. Much less interesting-sounding, and rightly so.

I'm betting that "A lake so salty it makes boat float too much" might have been an interesting enough title

Wouldn't a pontoon boat be able to float on top of the water? I mean, not perfectly, but it should work.

Or a flat bottom boat? It seems way too strong to say that it is impossible to navigate a boat on this lake, just that single V hulled boats are unstable.

Sure, any sort of catamaran would work fine.

Or raft.

Or a RIB, or most inflatables.

Basically any multi-hull or deep keel boat should do fine.


I hate misleading article titles.

>Additionally, Karakul is so salty, it’s almost impossible to navigate a boat on it without capsizing due to the vessel riding so far out of the water.

If people really wanted to use boats on the lake this would be a non-issue. Sure a deep V hull might not be very stable but any low and wide flat bottomed boat would be fine. Floating "on top" of the water so to speak is their purpose. Humanity has been building boats that float high in the water (how else do you deliver cargo where there isn't a dock) for thousands of years.[1] We've gotten good enough at it that we can do it even in sub-ideal conditions.[2]

The title is making much to do about nothing.

[1] https://i.ytimg.com/vi/J_kPe7lgMkY/hqdefault.jpg (yes I know this isn't a the best example)


Your images indicate a confusion of deep-v vs displacement hulls; whereas what the intention is a displacement vs planing hull.

Merchant vessels, and historic sailboats (pictured), even the WWII troop carriers were displacement hulls. Traditional navy sail ships carried additional stones as ballast to create stability. Mono-hull sail boats use a deep weighted keel to increase stability. On a displacement hull, the deep-vee design increases stability when compared to a flat bottomed boat, and has more space for ballast (at a low center of gravity)

Planing Hulls are more commonly used for recreation or speed, and are often those those that have a "deep-v" bow. Planing hulls are designed to lift mostly out of the water, while the deep-vee is across the beam and facilitates cutting through rough water.

A deep-v displacement hull is great for crossing rough oceans, or keeping a boat stable as cannons are firing, but not a great choice for fuel efficiency or landing on beaches as a flat bottomed displacement boat.

A planing hull is great when you have a modern gasoline engine and plan to be going > 15mph. A deep-vee allows that to come down through a wave, cut through the wave and lift back up. [Salinity would have very little effect on the stability of a planing hull as its stability is mostly provided by speed, though, launching or sitting would be unstable with it's half "flat" hull]

About deadrise https://www.tropicalboating.com/2010/04/deep-v-shallow-v-or-...

The Vasa (Swedish Ship) is a great example of poor initial stability, center of gravity understanding, and how a deeper keel (with more stones) OR removing higher mounted cannons in briney water could have changed things. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasa_(ship)#Causes_of_sinking

It literally hosted an international sailing regatta each year 2014 through 2017 [0].

[0] https://caravanistan.com/trip-reports/roof-world-regatta/

According to this paper [1], the salinity is 7.5-10 g/L, which is one quarter to one third of ocean salinity. Wikipedia [2] also states the lake is "brackish" -- meaning less salty than seawater but more salty than freshwaster -- but hardly a problem for boats. I guess the article is mistaken?

The Dead Sea [3], meanwhile, has order 340 g/L of salt, roughly 10x ocean salinity.

[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S003101821...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karakul_(Tajikistan)#Lake_desc...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea

Article mentions the Roof of the World Regatta. It provides a F--ebook link which I'm not clicking on, but an internet search returns e.g. https://caravanistan.com/trip-reports/roof-world-regatta/ . Short summary - you can kite surf, and use an inflatable raft, at least, assuming you can get there with your equipment.


I'm no fan of Facebook, but don't you think this is a little childish?

The idea is to evade detection by any automated sentiment analysis they might run on public message boards, just in case they target me for a course of covert "emotion manipulation" or something of that nature. (Not 100% serious BTW, but you never know.)

Just came here since I saw my name mentioned in the thread. Dave Stamboulis, whoever he is, should be banned from media.

Karakul is not incredibly salty (there are other very salty lakes in Central Asia, though).

It was not christened Lake Victoria by the British (that's Lake Zorkul). I corrected it on Wikipedia but it's still in the (really bad) Bradt Guide to Tajikistan.

The lake is not home to the ROTW regatta: last time it was held was in 2018 and there are no plans of it returning.

Karakul was never "an inhabited Central Asian crossroads."

"...its recent status as part of the Tajik National Park ensures that it will be on the intrepid travel list of many for years to come." Not sure what that even means.

Finally, Karakul does not look like a Greek island. At all!

"stone loach, a freshwater fish that can live on sandy-bottom lakes"

So what's the technical difference between fresh and salt water fish if freshwater fish can happily live in very salty water?

Edit: Digging just raises further questions. The Stone Loach is apparently European, and no mention of tolerating salt water is mentioned https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_loach

All I can say is that Loaches hate salt in water (as many other scaleless related fishes). Maybe is another species.

The article apparently meant to refer to Triplophysa lacusnigri, also known as the Karakul Stone Loach.

Isn't it so salty that they float too MUCH?

A certain amount of the boat has to sink in order to stay level. If the bottom of the boat doesn't sink, it's balancing on a knife's edge - and topples over.

Right; I suspect a raft or any other flat bottomed boat would be fine.

Which only applies to some kinds of boats. Many other boats won't have the same issue.


Some boats would work find, depending on the geometry. A pontoon boat, for example.

If there’s no other marine life that fish species would have nothing eat. Am I right?

"Additionally, Karakul is so salty, it’s almost impossible to navigate a boat on it without capsizing due to the vessel riding so far out of the water."

Tl:dr: additional salt makes them float too well.

It increases the density of the water. On the plus side if you capsize it's much easier to keep your head above water.

But then again, one or two large gulps of water may kill you.

That's if you land face first into the water. If you land any other way, your face will probably stay dry.

So add lots of ballast?

Just use a flatboat.

Or a catamaran

You think those puppies would just fly if their nearly entirely out of the water and just skimming along.

Karakul means "Black Lake" in most of the local languages, except ironically, Tajik, although it is located in Tajikistan.

The Pamirs are so beautiful. Definitely near the top of my list of places to go once that region calms down.

The region is fine. Thousands of people car / motorcycle / bicycle / walk through all the stans every year without issue. It is more and more accessible for tourists with infrastructure ..

Don't believe everything you read on a government "do not travel" list. Heck, you can even pop across the tadjik border and stay in Afghanistan safely.

It's strange that despite "boat" being in the title, it's only mentioned once in the article.

tl;dr for people wondering why:

>Karakul is so salty, it’s almost impossible to navigate a boat on it without capsizing due to the vessel riding so far out of the water.

I think the title is also misleading, because the boats float, just too well.

Sounds like a cool place to stand up paddle-board.

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