How a boat works

Essay by austinm22College, UndergraduateA+, August 2006

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When people are at the lake out on their boat, the last thing that is probably going through their mind is: "Boy, I wonder how this thing floats and what makes it go." There are several different types of boats and each boat model is slightly different. Whether it is the hull design or what drives the boat, there are few boats that are alike. But with all these different models and styles, there are still two universal questions: what makes them go and what makes the float?

The majority of people probably assume that a propeller is what drives a boat through the water. However, this is not true in all cases. Some boats are driven by jet engines, while some others are just pushed by the wind and most of them are driven by propeller. But in all cases, the water gives off quite a lot of resistance and if the driver wants to travel at greater speeds he/she must speed up the boat.

When he/she speeds up the boat like this, they are creating more resistance and pushing the hull higher. This resistance of the water against the hull is called friction and this friction dramatically slows the boat down. If a boat hull is designed, well the water will flow around the boat more easily.

The sails of modern sailing boats catch the wind and push the boat forward. As the sails cut through the air some of the air goes around the curved side and some air goes across the back. The air on one side makes the sailboat lean over and the air on the other side pushes the boat sideways. Jet boats use spinning turbine blades to suck water through the intake of the hull. Once inside the turbine chamber, the water quickly...