# Sailboats providing their own wind

• B
OCR
. . .it can push the boat against the wind.

Aah!!

Then you'd have more wind to drive the windmill. . . so you could charge the

battery, too ??

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OCR
Lol. . . thank you. .

.

A.T.
However, if you have a windmill on a boat, driving a water propeller, it can push the boat against the wind.
As shown below. But that is externally generated wind. So it's not what the OP is asking about.

Aah!!
Then you'd have more wind to drive the windmill. . . so you could charge the

battery, too ??
Yes, with externally generated wind relative to the surface you can put some of its energy into a battery this way.

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Bystander
Homework Helper
Gold Member
It's an open system.
We need to negotiate just what are the boundaries of the system; fan, fan + sail, fan + infinite sail (massless), fan + infinite source of air, fan + finite source of air, energy source, et cetera....

Going to require a little time to get my thoughts organized/ducks in a row; the problems of "cartoon physics" require a few more constraints than just "the intuitively obvious."

Just for laughs, I'll recommend Niven's Flying Sorcerers. The mis-applications of "intuition" to aerodynamics and propulsion systems are a little more common than just mine.

However, if you have a windmill on a boat, driving a water propeller, it can push the boat against the wind.
There was a guy in Camden Maine who had such a craft....this must have been thirty years ago. A turnable windmill attached to the boat propellor. It did actually work and would even travel upwind (if memory serves) but it was not very fast and nobody would write poems about her. As I recall I did a calculation at the time which showed you could go upwind at half the windspeed (ignoring hull friction and assuming a "perfect " propeller). I note that the design did not catch on.

A.T.
The mis-applications of "intuition" to aerodynamics and propulsion systems are a little more common than just mine.
You can consider throwing balls to see that the concept doesn't violate momentum conservation. Aerodynamics then just makes it less efficient, but not impossible.

A.T.
As I recall I did a calculation at the time which showed you could go upwind at half the windspeed (ignoring hull friction and assuming a "perfect " propeller).
There is no such speed limit for going directly upwind or downwind in terms of true wind multiple. It only depends on the efficiency, which imposes practical limits:

https://orbit.dtu.dk/fedora/objects/orbit:55484/datastreams/file_3748519/content
With less resistance on land more than twice the true wind was achieved in both directions:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackbird_(land_yacht)#Achievements

There is no such speed limit for going directly upwind or downwind in terms of true wind multiple. It only depends on the efficiency, which imposes practical limits:

https://orbit.dtu.dk/fedora/objects/orbit:55484/datastreams/file_3748519/content
With less resistance on land more than twice the true wind was achieved in both directions:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackbird_(land_yacht)#Achievements
Very interesting references. I guess I assumed the Betz limit for my calculation...(it was a long while ago and not really my field! I remember wondering at the time why there was no such limit on a sail. ) Thanks much for the clarification.

A.T.
Very interesting references. I guess I assumed the Betz limit for my calculation.
There is an old paper by Blackford, that derives a speed limit of 2 x windspeed, by assuming that the maximal upwind speed will be achieved at the Betz limit:

http://202.38.64.11/~cxyu/AJP_pushmepullyouboat.pdf
That assumption is never justified, and doesn't make much sense: The Betz limit only maximizes the energy extracted in the reference frame of the windmill. To maximize upwind speed you have to balance energy extraction with the drag of the windmill. Since drag doesn't play any role in the Betz limit, there is little reason to assume that it presents the optimum for this application.

jbriggs444
Homework Helper
Just for laughs, I'll recommend Niven's Flying Sorcerers. The mis-applications of "intuition" to aerodynamics and propulsion systems are a little more common than just mine.
Yep. Orbur and Wilville tried it both ways. The etymology of "Purple" was cute in that one too.

tech99
Gold Member
There is a video of a model windmill boat going directly into the wind at this URL:-

Baluncore
Vectors are more fun, and a one dimensional analysis is unrealistic.
Sail boats operate at the interface between two fluids with different velocities.
I have a keel boat, so set my sail at 45°, then mount the fan blowing across the boat onto the sail, so as to propel the boat forwards.

However, if you have a windmill on a boat, driving a water propeller, it can push the boat against the wind.
Jacques Cousteau implemented a not-especially-dissimilar concept on his supplementally-wind-powered (primarily diesel powered) vessel Alcyone.

Regular wind-powered vessels collect more wind power; however, the especially inventive person Mssr. Jacques Cousteau dreamed up a way to make a wind turbine that could drive a propeller so that a vessel could go directly into a headwind as an alternative to sailors' tacking -- he was also the inventor of the demand regulator, without which we would not have SCUBA -- what an exceptional man of science and engineering he was.

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A.T.
Apparently, none of you are multi-hull sailors. Multi-hulls do create their own wind. And regularly exceed windspeed by two or three times. On a reaching course, the side-force pushed on the boat and via the centerboards, are converted into forward motion. As the air accelerates over the wing shaped sails, it creates apparent wind. As the apparent wind increases, the sails go faster and create more wind. The only limit is drag, which is why iceboats can exceed 120 MPH. Maritime architect Nat Herreshoff knew this more than a century ago when he designed the catamaran Amarylis in 1874. At around 20' it blazed past 120' yachts, so much so it was banned from racing. Even the lowly 40 year old Hobie 16 can easily exceed 2x wind-speed, and the big foiling Trimarans now racing across the Atlantic go 3x or more, on hydrofoils. https://sailinganarchy.com/2019/11/05/fantastique/

A.T.
Apparently, none of you are multi-hull sailors.
Apparently, you missed the point.

On a reaching course,...
Sure, but not directly upwind or downwind.

Apparently, you missed the point.

Sure, but not directly upwind or downwind.
We tack upwind , and even downwind. It's faster than the wind on either point of sail.. My point is, postulating a motor facing the wrong way on boats that have been perfected over the centuries for their speed, economy and versatility is beyond silly I have gone 30 MPH on the ocean on my 18'. Physics puzzles are fine. But boats were Man's first vehicles. The engineering, banking, insurance and investing industries all relate back to historic water transport. The boat I currently sail used Formula One computer aided design with millions of data points. Then there are cartoon boats with fans on them. Then there is the difference between beating a dead horse, or in some cases, riding one.

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A.T.
Physics puzzles are fine.
And physics forums are for physics puzzles.

And physics forums are for physics puzzles.
As pertains to the title of the thread, yes sailboats can provide their own wind. Apparent wind. Three times Utah Catamaran State Champion here.

berkeman
Mentor
Three times Utah Catamaran State Champion here.
Wait, isn't Utah a desert?

Baluncore
On a reaching course, the side-force pushed on the boat and via the centerboards, are converted into forward motion. As the air accelerates over the wing shaped sails, it creates apparent wind.
That "apparent wind" is the vector sum of the wind and the boat velocity. There is no new or faster wind generated on the boat. It is still impossible to continue sailing a conventional sail cat directly into the wind, or when there is no wind.

DaveC426913
Gold Member
As pertains to the title of the thread, yes sailboats can provide their own wind. Apparent wind. Three times Utah Catamaran State Champion here.
Just a plain ol sailor here with no prizes.

This isn't about efficiency; it's about a physics thought experiment, as specified.

(After all, a racecar driver could always come by and pooh pooh your paltry 30MPH: "If speed is what you want, trying to use sails is beyond silly. You should get a Formula One.")

A.T.
As pertains to the title of the thread, yes sailboats can provide their own wind. Apparent wind.
Try reading the actual question, not just the title. This is not what the OP means by "provide their own wind".

Wait, isn't Utah a desert?
Uh, 40 large high altitude reservoirs, One Pleistocene lake at 6000'that is 104 square miles, 400,000 years old. Three high volume whitewater rivers, Colorado, San Juan, and the Green, Lake Powell, 162,000 acres, 1900 miles of shoreline. We do ok.

PAllen