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savages, have improved the art of sailing and rowing boats in several points beyond what we can pretend to.
We have no sailing boats equal to the flying proas of the South Seas, no rowing or paddling boat equal to that of the Greenlanders, for swiftness and safety. The birch canoes of the North American Indians have also some advantageous properties. They are so light that two men may carry one of them over land, which is capable of carrying a dozen upon the water; and in heeling they are not so subject to take in water as our boats, the sides of which are lowest in the middle where it is most likely to enter, this being highest in that part, as in figure 11.
The Chinese are an enlightened people, the most anciently civilized of any existing, and their arts are ancient, a presumption in their favor; their method of rowing their boats differs from ours, the oars being worked either two a-stern, as we scull, or on the sides with the same kind of motion, being hung parallel to the keel on a rail, and always acting in the water, not perpendicular to the side, as ours are, nor lifted out at every stroke, which is a loss of time, and the boat in the interval loses motion. They see our manner, and disposed to learn of or copy
we theirs, but neither are the other.
To the several means of moving boats mentioned above, may be added the singular one lately exhibited at Javelle, on the Seine below Paris, where a clumsy boat was moved across that river in three minutes by rowing, not in the water, but in the air, that is, by whirling round a set of windmill vanes fixed to a horizontal axis, parallel to the keel, and placed at the head of the boat. The axis was bent into an elbow at the end, by the help of which it was turned by one man at a time. I saw the operation at a distance. The four
vanes appeared to be about five feet long, and perhaps two and a half wide. The weather was calm. The labor appeared to be great for one man, as the two several times relieved each other. But the action upon the air by the oblique surfaces of the vanes must have been considerable, as the motion of the boat appeared tolerably quick going and returning; and she returned to the same place from whence she first set out, notwithstanding the current. This machine is since applied to the moving of air-balloons; an instrument similar may be contrived to move a boat by turning under water.
Several mechanical projectors have at different times proposed to give motion to boats, and even to ships, by means of circular rowing, or paddles placed on the circumference of wheels to be turned constantly on each side of the vessel; but this method, though frequently tried, has never been found so effectual as to encourage a continuance of the practice. I do not know that the reason has hitherto been given. Perhaps it may be this, that great part of the force employed contributes little to the motion. For instance, (fig. 12) of the four paddles a, b, c, d, all under water, and turning to move a boat from X to Y, c has the most power, b nearly though not quite as much, their motion being nearly horizontal; but the force employed in moving a, is consumed in pressing almost downright upon the water till it comes to the place of b; and the force employed in moving d is consumed in lifting the water till d arrives at the surface; by which means much of the labor is lost. It is true, that by placing the wheels higher out of the water, this waste labor will be diminished in a calm, but where a sea runs, the wheels must unavoidably be often dipped deep in the waves, and the turning of them thereby rendered very laborious to little purpose.
Among the various means of giving motion to a boat, that of M. Bernoulli appears one of the most singular, which was to have fixed in the boat a tube in the form of an L, the upright part to have a funnelkind of opening at top, convenient for filling the tube with water; which, descending and passing through the lower horizontal part, and issuing in the middle of the stern, but under the surface of the river, should push the boat forward. There is no doubt that the force of the descending water would have a considerable effect, greater in proportion to the height from which it descended; but then it is to be considered, that every bucket-full pumped or dipped up into the boat, from its side or through its bottom, must have its vis inertia overcome so as to receive the motion of the boat, before it can come to give motion by its descent; and that will be a deduction from the moving power. To remedy this, I would propose the addition of another such L pipe, and that they should stand back to back in the boat thus, figure 13; the forward one being worked as a pump, and sucking in the water at the head of the boat, would draw it forward while pushed in the same direction by the force at the stern. And after all it should be calculated whether the labor of pumping would be less than that of rowing. A fireengine might possibly in some cases be applied in this operation with advantage.
Perhaps this labor of raising water might be spared, and the whole force of a man applied to the moving of a boat by the use of air instead of water. Suppose the boat constructed in this form, figure 14. A, a tube round or square of two feet diameter, in which a piston may move up and down. The piston to have valves in it, opening inwards to admit air when the piston rises; and shutting, when it is forced down by means of the
lever B turning on the centre C. The tube to have a valve D, to open when the piston is forced down, and let the air pass out at E, which striking forcibly against the water abaft must push the boat forward. If there is added an air-vessel F properly valved and placed, the force would continue to act while a fresh stroke is taken with the lever. The boatman might stand with his back to the stern, and putting his hands behind him, work the motion by taking hold of the cross bar at B, while another should steer; or, if he had two such pumps, one on each side of the stern, with a lever for each hand, he might steer himself by working occasionally more or harder with either hand, as watermen now do with a pair of sculls. There is no position in which the body of a man can exert more strength than in pulling right upwards.
To obtain more swiftness, greasing the bottom of a vessel is sometimes used, and with good effect. I do not know that any writer has hitherto attempted to explain this. At first sight, one would imagine, that, though the friction of a hard body, sliding on another hard body, and the resistance occasioned by that friction, might be diminished by putting grease between them, yet that a body sliding on a fluid, such as water, should have no need of, nor receive, any advantage from such greasing. But the fact is not disputed. And the reason perhaps may be this. The particles of water have a mutual attraction, called the attraction of adhesion. Water also adheres to wood, and to many other substances, but not to grease; on the contrary they have a mutual repulsion, so that it is a question whether when oil is poured on water, they ever actually touch each other; for a drop of oil upon water, instead of sticking to the spot where it falls, as it would if it fell on a looking-glass, spreads instantly to an immense distance in a film extremely thin, which it could not easily
do if it touched and rubbed or adhered even in a small degree to the surface of the water. Now the adhesive force of water to itself, and to other substances, may be estimated from the weight of it necessary to separate a drop, which adheres, while growing, till it has weight enough to force the separation and break the drop off. Let us suppose the drop to be the size of a pea; then there will be as many of these adhesions as there are drops of that size touching the bottom of a vessel, and these must be broken by the moving power, every step of her motion that amounts to a drop's breadth; and there being no such adhesions to break between the water and a greased bottom, may occasion the difference.
So much respecting the motion of vessels. But we have sometimes occasion to stop their motion; and, if a bottom is near enough, we can cast anchor. Where there are no soundings, we have as yet no means to prevent driving in a storm, but by lying-to, which still permits driving at the rate of about two miles an hour; so that in a storm continuing fifty hours, which is not an uncommon case, the ship may drive one hundred miles out of her course; and should she in that distance meet with a lee shore, she may be lost.
To prevent this driving to leeward in deep water, a swimming anchor is wanting, which ought to have these properties.
1. It should have a surface so large as, being at the end of a hawser in the water, and placed perpendicularly, should hold so much of it, as to bring the ship's head to the wind, in which situation the wind has least power to drive her.
2. It should be able by its resistance to prevent the ship's receiving way.
3. It should be capable of being situated below the heave of the sea, but not below the undertow.