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Is this realistic math.

Discussion in 'Research' started by Alexander Mullins, Sep 10, 2020.

  1. Alexander Mullins

    Alexander Mullins Acolyte

    In my book a steamboat needs to make it 3000 miles in 30 days, according to my math if it went nonstop it should be able to make it in 15 days, I’ve doubled it so it isn’t going nonstop. Unfortunately I can’t find my original research on the MPH of a steamboat. Please convert answers to MPH.
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  2. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

    Depends on the steamboat. "Steamboat" can mean any one of dozens of different kinds of vessel.

    Why wouldn't the ship be going nonstop? Is it a riverboat or an oceangoing vessel? If it's a riverboat then perhaps they stop in town to rest at night for fear of running aground, but on the ocean there's no reason for them to stop.

    I recall that in 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, the steamship on which the protagonist initially pursued the Nautilus had a top speed of 19 MPH. Lacking any other figure, I'll assume that Jules Verne did his research and use that. However, the ship would probably not run at its top speed at all times, so let's say that it runs at 15 MPH. If your ship made that speed continuously, it could do 3000 miles in 8.3 days.
  3. Alexander Mullins

    Alexander Mullins Acolyte

    It is an ocean vessel. It’s not technically a steam ship, but that was the best real world equivalent I could think of. Thanks!
  4. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

    All right. Out of curiosity, why does the vessel have to stop?
  5. Alexander Mullins

    Alexander Mullins Acolyte

    Because I suck and know nothing about boat travel.
  6. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    An article on fastest steamboats seems to suggest 20mph. 3000 miles in 30 days would not be a problem.

    The Fastest River Steamer Beaten by a Steam Yacht

    wow, the date in that is 1885. Im sure they got faster since. Even at half speed the could still make it with 10 hours a day.
    Alexander Mullins likes this.
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    If you need to slow it down, you can factor in weather and the need to stop for supplies. Much depends there on what fuel you are using to burn in order to create the steam. You can also throw in mechanical problems, as steamships could get very cranky sometimes. Finally, if they are steering near land, they might very well not cruise at night. Taken all together, you have plenty of ways to slow things down.

    So, I would take the top-end number and figure clear sailing and come up with a number. Then, trim back by using the above factors. But I'm not sure any steamship could cruise at top speed for three thousand miles without stopping to refuel and get fresh water, at the least.
  8. Aldarion

    Aldarion Inkling

    3 000 miles in 30 days is 4,16 mph or 3,62 knots (note that speeds of ships are usually noted in knots, which are nautical miles per hour). For comparison, HMS Dreadnought at cruise speed of 10 knots could cover 6 620 nm, or 7 620 miles.

    Which is quite fast for a steamboat, but not impossible. These are some steamboats I found:
    Charlotte Dundas - Wikipedia - top speed 2 mph
    North River Steamboat - Wikipedia - top speed 5 mph; average speed 5 mph for 32 hour travel

    So for an early steamboat, neither distance nor speed are unreasonable, though I am not certain it would be able to make it nonstop. In fact, if you assume nonstop travel, time would be 600 hours or 25 days. So if you add refuelings, I guess 30 days is possible.
    Alexander Mullins likes this.
  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Much would depend on design... Steamboat such as in Mark Twain, or Steamship as in the Titanic. Is she wooden or steel? But, there's another factor here, and that is current. While with rivers this would be most obvious, going against the ocean's current is not going to be as fast as with the current. Storms. At sea, storms change everything. Throw in bad weather and you can fudge the numbers to take as long as you want, plus you open the potential for some man vs nature tension.

    That's why I love the age of sails, I can fudge around all kinds of travel times, heh heh.
    Alexander Mullins likes this.
  10. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Minstrel

    Well, it depends on the period you're in. Modern ships have very efficient hull forms, but that wasn't true of the Mississippi river boats of the 1800s. It also depends on the type of engine. HMS Dreadnought used steam turbines and had (for the time) advanced boilers, but the river boats I mentioned above had reciprocating engines and rather less efficient boilers which gave them much less range. River navigation, especially on what was then a relatively uncontrolled river like the Mississippi, was sometimes very difficult and few captains dared to travel at night. Most would tie up somewhere overnight, and this gave the opportunity for trading at each stop. Storm surges also caused delays. So I'd say that 30 days may be a little optimistic. If you can find it, try reading the Lucky Luke album Travelling Up the Mississippi. It gives a fairly realistic view of river travel in the period.

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