Jet Boat: Hamilton invents the first propeller-free boat
Sir William Hamilton (1899-19780 already had some experience of working with water-based mechanics when he invented the jet boat. In 1954, he had he built a jet pump, the first of its kinds. The pump was essentially a system of water propulsion. It is used a propeller to create a centrifugal force that caused a forward thrust action underwater, drawing through and back inside the pump.
The jet boat works in similar way to the jet pump. Simply put, a traditional screw propeller accelerates a large volume of water by a small amount and in agreement with Newton’s Third Law of Physics-for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction-a large amount of thrust is created. This thrust is used to drive the boat and allows it to move speedily through the currents.
Hamilton lived and worked in New Zealand. There his boat was able to power quickly through the fast-following, shallow waters and was particularly adept at avoiding obstacles, such as rocks. The manoeuvrability of the jet boat made its design highly marketable.
Hamilton was not the first person to come up with the idea for the jet boat. Italian inventor Secondo Campini has devised a remarkably similar jet-powered boat as early as 1931 but he did not have the foresight to patent his design. Well before that, Greek scholar Archimedes had dreamed of a jet boat when he devised his water screw, an early propeller, in the third century B.C.E.
Hamilton has nonetheless been credit with “revolutionizing the conventional world of boating,” although as he himself has commented, he probably has Archimedes to thank at least in part for this.