Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Homework Help: Boat across a river

  1. Sep 19, 2006 #1
    A boat that can travel at 4.0 km/h in still water crosses a river with a current of 1.8 km/h. At what angle must the boat be pointed upstream to travel straight across the river? In other words, in what direction is the velocity of the boat relative to the water?

    I have already found the answer due to the equation: sin-1(1.8/4)

    The answer is 27 degrees upstream.

    Reading through my book, I understand this has something to do with the boat's velocity equaling the vector sum of it's velocity in relation to the water???

    Something like that. Can any of you clarify the relationship between the boat and water speeds, and why this equation yielded a correct answer? Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 19, 2006 #2
    the boat is trying to go straight across, but the water is pushing it to the side at 1.8km/h. so to compensate for the current, the boat has to travel at 27 degrees upstream. (picture a triangle).

  4. Sep 19, 2006 #3
    I understand that, but how do figure out that sin-1(1.8/4) is the method of reaching the 27 degree conclusion?
  5. Sep 20, 2006 #4
    if you draw a right angled triangle, you ll see that the hypotenuse is 4 km/h and the opposite side is 1.8 km/h.

    so using the trig thing SOH CAH TOA (let me know if you're not familiar with this), you'll see that you only have the hypo. side and the opposite side so the only one you can use is the sine function (SOH). you want to find the opposite angle.

    sin = opposite/hypo. = 1.8/4 = 0.45 sin-1 = 27 degrees.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook