Riverboats were once major forms of transportation, since rivers were once the most efficient forms of transportation. The hulls must not come apart in the river, must handle the speed of the river and must not drag the bottom of the river. The riverboat must have a shallow draft that allows the riverboat to operate at various water levels, a hull that can resist bending forces from the waves and a high beam for stability and minimum water displacement, since the rivers do not always have a lot of water to displace.
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Flat bottom boats are the cheapest kinds of boats to build and work well in shallow rivers because the hull is less likely to touch the bottom of the river. However, this kind of boat struggles in very choppy rivers because the hull does stabilise the boat. Normally, flat hulls plane on the surface of the water at a high speed instead of cutting through the water.
A better hull for choppy rivers is the V-hull boat, which makes the boat ride smoother. However, the V-hull is deeper and cannot navigate in some shallow waters.
Round bottom boats are good options for river boats because they move very easily through the water at slow speeds, which river boats commonly travel at. These hulls do not work well at high speeds because the boat is more likely to flip at high speeds. The efficiency of the round-bottom hulls minimises the energy needed to move these boats.
Jet boats work the best in shallow rivers because they have no prop and no low hanging unit that gets caught up on the riverbed. The jet boats have flat-bottom tunnel and the skiff style hulls.
Tunnel hulls have two V's that dig into the water. In between these V's, water rapidly travels through. This design allows the riverboat to travel faster with greater stability. This type of hull works in almost all bodies of water.
Light Shallow Draft Hulls
Larger river boats have light shallow draft hulls with powerful engines attached to them. The older river boats tended not to use the flat-bottom hulls because they twisted and fell apart in the river. However, flat-bottom riverboats became possible when the engineers got rid of the knells and made the bottom completely flat. They also made the hulls very long and brought the engines and boilers up to the main deck.
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