What is a Boat Chine and What are the Differences?
The chine of a boat refers to the change in angle in the cross-section of a vessel's hull. If you are looking at a boat straight on from the front or back, the bottom of the hull can be many different shapes. Some are extremely pointed while others are on the rounder side of the spectrum. What are the differences in boat chines? Do some of them perform certain functions other than others? Let's dive into the world of boat chines and exactly what are the differences between them.
History of Boat Chines
As with most things, it would behoove us to take a look at the history of boat chines. Obviously even the earliest boats had some sort of rudimentary chine, but it wasn't referred to as such. The first boats which were at least partially engineered were dugout canoes, which were built by hollowing out a log. These boats had rounded bottoms, likely due to the shape of the log that it came from. While this was serviceable, it left a lot to be desired so humans did what they do best and continued to engineer the boat chine.
Enter the planked hull. Traditional planked hulls were generally built by placing wooden planks parallel to the flow of water and this 'spine' was attached to bent wooden frames that served as ribs. The spine is referred to as the keel while the ribs are usually just called ribs. You can learn more about the keel in our blog 'Does a Sailboat Need a Keel?' Planks were attached to these ribs and this produced a largely rounded hull, with a sharp bottom edge to form the keel. These rounded types of chine are called a 'soft chine'.
As innovation continued, the hard chine developed. This was a hull with a hard angle that does away with the rounding that was popular in the past. After the development of the steeply angled chines, there came the multi-chine hulls. These multi-angle boat chines fit almost any purpose that can be conceivably thought of. If you're unsure what sort of boat chine a certain vessel has you should keep in mind that these angles can be seen most easily near the bow.
Types of Boat Chines
A V chine vessel consist of two parts and basically forms a large 'V' shape at the bottom of the boat. While this shape is relatively easy to construct, that is about the only strong suit that it has. The V chin is one of the least stable shapes available, and for this reason alone it is very rarely seen.
A two chine hull is made up of a flat bottom and 90 degree angled sides. This model is extremely spacious and leaves plenty of room for cargo while remaining very stable. You'll often see this sort of construction on cargo ships for obvious reasons. If you've got a lot of stuff that needs to move across the water the two chine hull is the one to utilize!
One of the most common chine builds is the 3 chine hull. This model features an extremely wide V shape that extends out from the keel. Then sides over 90 degrees are extended up from each end of the V shape.
Multiple chines are especially valuable on larger ships that operate in rough conditions regularly. The wave is broken by the multiple angles instead of slapping against a single flat surface. Stepping of the chine also allow for less rocking and rolling for the same reason, the wave's impact are spread out over a longer period of time.
Multiple chines are also good for high-speed boating turns. As a boat or ship gains speed it will lift out of the water, otherwise known as planing. With less of the hull contacting the water the vessel becomes laterally unstable, which might seem like a bad thing, but this instability allows for the hull to pivot along its length and managed to stabilize turning at high speeds.
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Differences of Boat Chines
We've gone over a few of the applications of the different kinds of boat chines above, but there are even more comparisons that we can make. How about dryness? Well, the harder chine will push water out and away from your boat while the smaller angles of the soft chine will inevitably allow some water to spray over the sides. The hard chine will plane at much lower speeds due to the flatter surfaces.
While it sounds like the hard chine has some distinct advantages, these hard angles will also concentrate most stress in a smaller area which can lead to some massive wear and tear on your boat. Soft chines are easier to manufacture and maintain which is probably why they are used so widely in the boating world. If you've read some of our past blogs you'll know that I'm not an adrenaline junkie, I take things nice and slow and I'm on the water to relax so a soft chine is just fine. Heh, that rhymes. If you really want to relax, try floating around with this waterproof Bluetooth speaker.
On top of that, while hard chines can offer speed I did mention that they are much less stable. Why is that exactly? Well, a boat with a rounded bottom can get tossed around and roll quite a lot but it usually ends up rolling back into place. A hard chine flips over much easier, and much quicker for that matter. It can be very difficult to deal with a hard chine unless you have a ton of experience under your belt.