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How would a boat be designed for sailing through a sea made from mist and steam?


This sea of mist and sea is a naturally occurring place in the world I made, it is in a deep, giant underground cave, this may effect how the ship would move.

I am wondering if it this mode of transportation would be believable / achievable in a low fantasy setting.

To Specify:
Not asking how to describe it, just asking for how different types would work mechanically in relation to the sea of mist and steam. And what attributes the boat would need to survive the mist, steam and wind.
The boat is going through the mist and steam.

Context:
Mist and Steam Seas (name for the place) is caused by a frost region interacting with a magma region underneath of it, giving birth to a large middle zone of mist and steam. There are large stalactites and stalagmites which are in this large middle zone, making it hard to traverse. As this is deep underground, the wind is quite rare, but when there is wind, the Mist and Steam Seas are extremely dangerous. This makes the floor, extremely hot at areas near its surface, and the roof extremely cold near its surface.
What has been observed is things being turned into magma without seeing the floor, and things freezing and snapping when touching the ceiling (inevitably falling to the lava).

In the Mist and Steam Seas there is a city which is sustaining itself upon a stalactite hanging from the frozen ceiling. The ice is magically sustained with an artifact, but the city is steampunk using the heat from the mist and steam seas to power their creations.

There are creatures which traverse the mist to attack the boats and the city. According to lore the boats were based off these creatures, but I am designing this in reverse where, based on how the boats work, the creatures will work and move in a similar way.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you mean an aircraft which flies over a cloud of mist, or a boat which sails through mist upon the liquid water of a mist-covered sea? Boats which sail upon clouds as if they were liquid water would have to be magic; clouds in real life aren't noticeably denser than the air directly above them. $\endgroup$
    – g s
    Commented May 28 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ Hello @AussieNote, welcome to Worldbuilding. I'm a little disappointed in the down vote and close vote. It's true your question is missing some details that would help, but the fundamentals of the question are sound. You might want to edit your post to explain (a) because the mist/steam is in a cave, traversing the cave by climbing down to the bottom, crossing the cave, then up to the destination would be whomping hard if not impossible due to difficulty seeing and few if any landmarks. (b) If steam, it's actually hotter at the bottom, prohibiting any crossing at the bottom (*Cont*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented May 28 at 4:42
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    $\begingroup$ ... or, perhaps, the steam is caused by magma at the bottom and an underground river dumping into it. My point is, either explain or simply define the fact that a crossing at the bottom is impossible. We need restrictions, limitations, even reasons like that to help us rationalize the answers. Cheers! $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented May 28 at 4:43
  • $\begingroup$ Ill add the parts I left out, I thought that the source of the mist/steam was an unneeded factor, ill add that now $\endgroup$
    – AussieNote
    Commented May 28 at 21:56

4 Answers 4

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If water is well below 100 C and there is enough steam in the air then boat may use atmospheric steam engine - mix water and steam and use drop of pressure to move cylinder.

There will be some leftover air in the cylinder, you can cool it and pass in living quarters.

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  • $\begingroup$ Atmospheric steam engines cap at less than half a horsepower and a rotor speed of about 1hz, you are not running a propeller with that. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Commented Jun 4 at 5:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Ash "A History of Mechanical Inventions" by Abbott Payson Usher says that even the very first Newcomen atmospheric engine was rated at 5 hp, judging by amount of pumped water. The biggest a.e. were close to 100 hp. 1 hz speed and below would work just fine for paddle wheel. $\endgroup$
    – Vashu
    Commented Jun 5 at 6:42
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Mist and steam are a common occurrence on our planet, and the only objects able to navigate through them either:

  • move on the surface beneath the mist and steam, be it solid (wheels or legs are the most common features in this case) or liquid (anything with a positive buoyancy)

  • or fly through the mist/steam using the lift produced by the air carrying the mist/steam to produce lift (wings for the heavier than air, hot air or other gas for the lighter than air)

Your case would be exactly the same.

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  • $\begingroup$ High density games such as a Xenon lake would act pretty much as a liquid, though you'd call both gas and liquid a fluid for the purpose of buoyouncy $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Commented May 29 at 11:14
  • $\begingroup$ As the ships need to go through the mist and steam, there is a certain issue in people getting absolutely cooked, or the ship getting warped and destroyed. Any ideas on the attributes of the parts needed for this to work? $\endgroup$
    – AussieNote
    Commented May 29 at 22:26
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Usually I would wholly concur with L.Dutch's answer but in the specific case of an underground sea of mist and steam it may be that the gas making it up is at a high enough pressure that constructs you wouldn't necessarily expect to float would be neutral buoyant. This potentially makes navigation possible even if there were no otherwise navigable surface beneath. You may be able to take some form of rowboat through the mid-levels of the mist without any solid or recognisably liquid surface which you are bound to travelling upon. You would want audible signals for navigation unless there's some technological or magical means of seeing through the clouds.

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    $\begingroup$ There can only be high pressure if there is no surface to the steam (where the pressure would escape). If there is no surface, then you must be completely submerged, in which case, that's a sub, not a boat. But perhaps, if there's a cave entrance with high pressure steam, then one could float on the updraft. $\endgroup$ Commented May 29 at 4:41
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    $\begingroup$ If you crank the pressure up that high, I don't think anything human could survive, so the city-dwellers might need to be altered somehow. Also, from a physics standpoint, I think increasing the pressure would cause the water to condense out at some point? I'm a little fuzzy on how that works, given that mist is already technically liquid water (it's just that the droplets are small enough to float in the air). $\endgroup$
    – MJ713
    Commented May 29 at 5:07
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    $\begingroup$ Sadly, even apart from the sailors being crushed, broiled to death, and drowned, supercritical steam is transparent, and therefore defeats the purpose of the misty cave setting. $\endgroup$
    – g s
    Commented May 30 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ @gs Super critical steam is transparent but it's also dense enough that other droplets can float in it, and hot enough that there are a lot of interesting options. No-one said the creatures of the question are remotely human and I wasn't thinking about an earthly open rowboat, although with enough magic I suppose you could I was thinking a pressure shell that looks like it should fly like a rock but floating along with oars. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Commented May 30 at 21:48
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Hot + Cold = Wind

Most air currents in natural weather are caused by the heating and cooling of air. Air naturally rises when heat expands it, lowering its density. The opposite happens when it cools. The hottest areas above your "sea" floor would cause updrafts and the coldest places would cause downdrafts. These winds could probably be stable enough to support gliders along mapped routes. Perhaps optimal gliding height is just above the clouds.

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