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Float Your Boat!

, 280 pages

93 halftones, 18 line drawings

November 2008



Availability Text

Usually ships 2-3 business days after receipt of order.

Float Your Boat!

The Evolution and Science of Sailing

An estimated 4.1 million people in the United States participate in recreational sailing. Yet the large library of sailing literature leaves many of them high and dry. On one side are technical guides for America’s Cup boat-builders; on the other, simplistic books for weekend sailors with little interest in science. In Float Your Boat! professional and amateur boaters alike will find intelligent and understandable answers to such questions as: What were the key innovations that made sailboats more efficient? How do you increase the speed of a boat? How do sailboats travel into the wind? Why are so many explanations of sailing so wrong?

Sailing enthusiast and physicist Mark Denny first traces the evolution of the sailing craft, from prehistoric coracles made of animal skins and antlers to the sailboat’s reinvention as a pleasure craft during the Industrial Revolution. He then identifies specific sailing phenomena—how wind drives modern Bermuda sloops, how torque determines stability, why hull speed exists—and provides the key physics principles behind them.

Whether you are an inquisitive landlubber who has never set foot in a boat, a casual weekend sailor, or an old salt who lives for the sea, Float Your Boat! is an accessible guide to the physics of sailing.

After earning a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Edinburgh University, Mark Denny pursued research at Oxford University from 1981 to 1984, then moved into a career in industry. He is the author of Ingenium: Five Machines That Changed the World and Blip, Ping, and Buzz: Making Sense of Radar and Sonar, both published by Johns Hopkins. Denny is now semi-retired and lives on Vancouver Island.

"Intelligent and understandable explanations of the physics of sailing... If you want to sound smart the next time you try explaining sailing to someone, read this book!"

"Armed with a PhD in physics, Denny fills a gap by addressing the evolution of this ancient means of transportation and the science that has affected its development... this book will appeal to those interested in the history and/or physics of sailing."

"A light-hearted yet informative look at the physics of sailing ships... Clearly, the connections between physics and sailing run deep; as Denny points out, even Einstein was an avid weekend sailor."

"So comprehensive is Denny's narrative that it revisits prehistoric coracles made of animal skins and antlers before fast-forwarding to the Industrial Revolution."

"Denny's book is an entertaining read for any sailor, or any armchair physicist for that matter."

"An excellent approach for any nautical library."

"This book will make an important contribution to the literature on the science of sailing. It fills the gap between the technical, engineering-oriented texts and the too simplified, basic books."

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