coverPlease do NOT post your answer, but do say if you think you have solved the puzzle and how long it took. Solution on Monday.

A boat is at anchor.  There is a rope ladder hanging over the side of the boat, and the rungs of the ladder are a foot apart.  The sea is rising at a rate of 15 inches per hour.  After 6 hours, how much of the rope ladder will remain above the water, assuming that 10 feet of the ladder was above the water when the tide began to rise?
I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED and is available for the Kindle (UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USA here). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.


  1. For the purposes of this puzzle we should assume that

    1) The anchor is taut holding the boat at the same distance from the bottom;

    2) the rising sea cannot unhook the anchor or snap, letting the boat drift away.

    Otherwise the results could be confusing.

    1. I’ll play along with you Baker’s Dozen.

      3) We’re told that when the tide began to rise the distance was 10 ft, but we’re not told that the six hours starts when the tide began to rise.

      4) It also doesn’t explicitly state that the tide continues to rise for the entire six hours.

      Looks like it’s impossible to get the answer through calculations. 😉

    2. Yes you’re right. I’m looking forward to all the different possible answers to the question on Monday. Maybe this is more philosophical ?

    3. Perhaps it must be pointed out that taut line or not, no anchor is heavy enough to sink the boat that carries it.

  2. Yes also got it. Had the answer before I got to the question. Could see where that was going. Nice though !

  3. Trivial question.

    Unless the anchor rope is taut and vertical before the tide starts rising, but then you’ve got a problem.

  4. This one I have seen before, but then with the water rising at 10 inches per hour.
    Makes all the difference. 🙂

  5. Assuming there’s some slack in the anchor chain and the boat’s seaworthy (i.e. nobody punches holes in the bottom), I’m fairly sure that I’ve calculated the most probable answer without needing to resort to pen and paper or Excel 🙂

    1. To ctj and John: On Monday please could you explain the reference to the heart and the tree because I don’t follow. (I say Monday in case it will give the game away now.)

  6. -3 seconds (got it halfway thru the third sentence). But the more interesting question is, where will the boat be after 12 hours?

  7. Assuming that the lead to the anchor isn’t taut, I got it straight away. Without that assumption, I got it at the same time. Guess we’ll see which ass I’ve made on Monday! 😀

  8. many posters here think they have been clever and made the no-math answer to this puzz. but what if the boat is at anchor in a low cave, or under a pier? the ans then is much different.

    1. most of the fun of reading the comments on monday is seeing all of the ways that Richard poorly phrased his puzzle, or all of the plausible ways that he (could have) got the answer wrong.

    2. And what if it isn’t in the sea at all? Or already sunk in three feet of water?

      It’s a puzzle. You have to assume that all the information needed to solve it is given to you.

  9. If the boat is for anchor at the Waddenzee, after 6 hours all water is gone……and the boet is a light weight so it most float .so how much of the rope ladder will remain above the water , the ladder remain is 9feet

  10. Got It In 10 Seconds. It Is So Easy.I Like This Trick Question. I Told It To All My Family Members And My Sister Got It First.

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