It is now nearly a year ago since we announced to our readers the researches that had been undertaken by the learned physicist, Raoul Pictet, in order to demonstrate theoretically and practically the forms that are required for a fast-sailing vessel, and since we pointed out how great an interest is connected with the question, while at the same time promising to revert to the subject at some opportune moment. We shall now keep our promise by making known a work that Mr. Pictet has just published in the Archives Physiques et Naturelles, of Geneva, in which he gives the first results of his labors, and which we shall analyze rapidly, neglecting in doing so the somewhat dry mathematical part of the article.

For a given tonnage and identical tractive stresses, the greater or less sharpness of the fore and aft part of the keel allows boats to attain different speeds, the sharper lines corresponding to the highest speeds, but, in practice, considerably diminishing the weight of freight capable of being carried by the boat.

Pictet s High Speed Boat 385 5b


A. Lateral View. B. Plan. C. Section of the boiler room. D. Section of the cabin.

Mr. Pictet proposed the problem to himself in a different manner, and as follows:

Determine by analysis, and verify experimentally, what form of keel will allow of the quickest and most economical carriage of a given weight of merchandise on water.

We know that for a given transverse or midship section, the tractive stress necessary for the progression of the ship is proportional to the square of the velocity; and the motive power, as a consequence, to the cube of such velocity.

Fig. 2.  Diagram of tractive stresses at different speeds.

Fig. 2.--Diagram of tractive stresses at different speeds.

The friction of water against the polished surfaces of the vessel's sides has not as yet been directly measured, but some indirect experiments permit us to consider the resistances due thereto as small. The entire power expended for the progress of the vessel is, then, utilized solely in displacing certain masses of water and in giving them a certain amount of acceleration. The masses of water set in motion depend upon the surface submerged, and their acceleration depends upon the speed of the vessel. Mr. Pictet has studied a form of vessel in which the greatest part possible of the masses of water set in motion shall be given a vertical acceleration, and the smallest part possible a horizontal one; and this is the reason why: All those masses of water which shall receive a vertical acceleration from the keel will tend to move downward and produce a vertical reaction in an upward direction applied to the very surface that gives rise to the motion. Such reaction will have the effect of changing the level of the floating body; of lifting it while relieving it of a weight exactly equal to the value of the vertical thrust; and of diminishing the midship section, and, consequently, the motive power.

Pictet s High Speed Boat 385 6b

Fig. 3.--Diagram of variations in tractive stresses and
tonnage taken as a function of the speed.

All those masses of water which receive a horizontal acceleration from the keel run counter, on the contrary, to the propulsive stress, and it becomes of interest, therefore, to bring them to a minimum. The vertical stress is limited by the weight of the boat, and, theoretically, with an infinite degree of speed, the boat would graze the water without being able to enter it.

The annexed diagram (Fig. 1) shows the form that calculation has led Mr. Pictet to. The sides of the boat are two planes parallel with its axis, and perfectly vertical. The keel (properly so called) is formed by the joining of the two vertical planes. The surface thus formed is a parabola whose apex is in front, the maximum ordinate behind, and the concavity directed toward the bottom of the water. The stern is a vertical plane intersecting at right angles the two lateral faces and the parabolic curve, which thus terminates in a sharp edge. The prow of the boat is connected with the apex of the parabola by a curve whose concavity is directed upward.

Pictet s High Speed Boat 385 6c

Fig. 4.--Diagram of the variations in the power as a
function of the speed.

When we trace the curve of the tractive stresses in a boat thus constructed, by putting the speeds in abscisses and the tractive stresses in ordinates, we obtain a curve (Fig. 2) which shows that the same tractive stress applied to a boat may give it three different speeds, M, M', and M", only two of which, M and M", are stable.

Experimental verifications of this study have been partially realized (thanks to the financial aid of a number of persons who are interested in the question) through the construction of a boat (Fig. 1) by the Geneva Society for the Construction of Physical Instruments. The vessel is 20.25 m. in length at the water line, has an everywhere equal width of 3.9 m., and a length of 16 m. from the stern to the apex of the parabola of the keel. The bottom of the boat is nearly absolutely flat. The keel, which is 30 centimeters in width, contains the shaft of the screw. The boiler, which is designed for running at twelve atmospheres, furnishes steam to a two cylinder engine, which may be run at will, either the two cylinders separately, or as a compound engine. The bronze screw is 1.3 m. in diameter, and has a pitch of 2.5 m. The vessel has two rudders, one in front for slight speeds, and the other at the stern. At rest, the total displacement is 52,300 kilogrammes. This weight far exceeds what was first expected, by reason of the superthickness given the iron plates of the vertical sides, of the supplementary cross bracing, and of the superposition of the netting necessary to resist the flexion of the whole.

On another hand, the tractive stress of the screw, which should reach about 4,000 kilogrammes, has never been able to exceed 1,800, because of the numerous imperfections in the engine. It became necessary, therefore, to steady the vessel by having her towed by the Winkelried, which was chartered for such a purpose, to the General Navigation Company. It became possible to thus carry on observations on speeds up to 27 kilometers per hour.

Fig. 3 shows how the tractive stress varies with each speed in a theoretic case (dotted curve) in which the stress is proportional to the square of the speed, in Madame Rothschild's boat, the Gitana (curve E), and in the Pictet high speed vessel (curve B).

The Gitana was tried with speeds varying between 0 and 4 kilometers. The corresponding tractive stresses have been reduced to the same transverse section as in the Pictet model in order to render the observations comparable. At slight speeds, and up to 19.5 kilometers per hour, the Gitana, which is the sharper, runs easier and requires a slighter tractive stress. At such a speed there is an equality; but, beyond this, the Pictet boat presents the greater advantages, and, at a speed of 27 kilometers, requires a stress about half less than does the Gitana. Such results explain themselves when we reflect that at these great speeds the Gitana sinks to such a degree that the afterside planks are at the level of the water, while the Pictet model rises simultaneously fore and aft, thus considerably diminishing the submerged section.

With low or moderate speeds there is a perceptible equality between the theoretic curve and the curve of the fast boat; but, starting from 16 kilometers, the stress diminishes. The greater does the speed become, the more considerable is the diminution in stress; and, starting from a certain speed, the rise of the boat is such as to diminish its absolute tractive stress--a fact of prime importance established by theory and confirmed by experiment.

The curves in Fig. 4 show the power in horses necessary to effect progression at different speeds. The curve, A, has reference to an ordinary boat that preserves its water lines constant, and the curve, B, to a swift boat of the same tonnage. Up to 16 kilometers, the swift vessel presents no advantage; but beyond that speed, the advantage becomes marked, and, at a speed of 27 kilometers, the power to be expended is no more than half that which corresponds to the same speed for an ordinary boat.

The water escapes in a thin and even sheet as soon as the tractive stress exceeds 2,000 kilogrammes; and the intensity and size of the eddies from the boat sensibly diminish in measure as the speed increases.

The interesting experiments made by Mr. Pictet seem, then to clearly establish the fact that the forms deduced by calculation are favorable to high speeds, and will permit of realizing, in the future, important saving in the power expended, and, consequently, in the fuel (much less of which will need to be carried), in order to perform a given passage within a given length of time. Thus is explained the great interest that attaches to Mr. Pictet's labors, and the desire that we have to soon be able to make known the results obtained with such great speeds, not when the boat is towed, but when its propulsion is effected through its own helix actuated by its own engine, which, up to the present, unfortunately, has through its defects been powerless to furnish the necessary amount of power for the purpose.--La Nature.