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Trochoidal Wave Theory.

All the observed phenomena of ocean waves, that is, waves in deep water, fit in so well
with the trochoidal wave theory that this theory is generally accepted.
It is assumed that the waves traverse an ocean of unlimited extent and the depth of water
in relation to the dimensions of the wave is sufficiently great for this also to be assumed
It will be seen later that the depth of water at which wave motion is practically negligible
is comparatively small. Sometimes these ideal conditions are fulfilled in ocean waves, but
generally several series of waves are superimposed on one another often in different
directions, the result being a confused sea. It is necessary in considering the subject to
assume a single series of waves.
A trochoid is the curve traced out by a point inside a circle when the circle is rolled along
a straight line, and if the circle is below the line it will be found that the resulting curve is
sharper at the crest than at the trough (Fig).

If the radius of the rolling circle is R and the

circle rolls along the line N0N, the velocity of the centre of the circle being V, and the
radius of the point P within the circle being r, then P traces out a curve which is a
trochoid. The length from crest to crest L=2irR, and the height from crest to trough H=2r.
In Fig. 6.1 00P0 is the initial position, and 0 is the angle turned through when the centre
of the circle arrives at 0, and the radius at OP. Then 000=R0, and if we take the origin at
P0, the axis of x as horizontal, and the axis of y as vertical, then the co-ordinates of P
are given by -
x=RΘ—r sinΘ = L /2Π Θ - H/2 sin Θ (1)
y=r-rcosΘ = H/2 - H/2_cos Θ (2)

As P moves along it revolves about the instantaneous centre N, so that PN is normal to

the surface of the trochoid at P.
If v=velocitY of P
ω =angular velocity of OP
it can be shown that
v = P N x dΘ / dt
= nω
For proof of this v² = (dx/dt)² + (dΘ/dt)²
= {(R-rcsΘ)² + r² sin²Θ } (dΘ /dt)²
= (TN² + PT² ) x (dΘ / dt)²
= PN² ( dΘ / dt)²
v = PN x dΘ / dt
Sub_TrOCh0Ids. For the trochoids below the surface the crests and troughS must be in
the same vertical line as at the surface.
They are all of the same length and described by the same diameter of rolling circle.
The variation will be in the position of the rolling line and in the length of the radius arm
The radius arm r will diminish as depth is increased, and for two consecutive trochoid
surfaces the distance y between the lines of orbit centres will be the same as the distance
between the rolling lines. It can be shown that:
r = r0 e –r/R
Where r0 = radius of surface trochoid radius
And R = L / 2Π

Let the two adjacent trochoidS be those through P and P’ (Fig. ), the rolling lines being
through N and N’, and the lines of orbit centres through 0 and 0’, y being measured from
some datum line and δy being as shown.
Then for continuity it is necessary that the water shall continually fill the space between
the two trochoids.
If v is the velocity at P and e the breadth of the stream, then the quantity of water passing
will equal v x e.
Since v = nω, we have quantity of water passing=new, and this must be constant all
along the stream and since ω is uniform.
There fore ne=constant (4)
Thus for successive values of y, i.e. distances below the centres of the rolling circle of the
surface trochoid, we can obtain successive values of r, and it is found that r rapidly
decreases with the depth

Take a wave 600 ft. long and 40 ft. high.

It will be found that at a depth of 400 ft. the diameter of the orbit is only about 7 in., and
at a
-depth of 600 ft. the diameter of the orbit is negligible.
Wave Formation.
We can turn the motion of the rolling circle into a wave formation by impressing on the
whole a backward velocity V (see Fig. ).
formation, the formation travelling with Then the point 0 is fixed and points as P revolve
with aconstant angular velocity w.
All such points as P revolving in circular orbits will give a wave a velocity V.
The particles in the crest will move in the same direction as the wave advance and
particles in the trough in the opposite direction.
A wave is the passage of motion and the actual movement of the water is small, it being
the wave form which moves along.
If a piece of wood be observed floating on a wave it will be seen to oscillate about a
mean position all the while the wave is rapidly moving on. Waves may be created in a
rope, which will travel along the rope, while it is evident that the rope itself does not
There may be of course a bodily drift of the whole mass of water due to tides, which is a
motion on which the wave formation will be superimposed.

The turning of the rolling circle movement into a wave formation by impressing on it a
constant velocity does not afTcct any of the dynamical relations into which we shall have
to inquire.
Line of Orbit Centres in Relation to Still Water Level. Let OO be the line of orbit centres,
Fig., and LL a line such that the area of the half trochoid P’P”’M equals the area LLP’M,
i.e. LL will be the level of still water.
This gives the speed of the wave in foot second units. For the speed in knots we have:
V12=1.8L or V1=l.34√L (10)
f in (8) is termed the virtual gravity, because the particles are acted upon by f instead of
the real gravity g.
f changes in magnitude and direction all along the wave, being always perpendicular to
the surface of the trochoid.
The apparent or virtual weight of a body of mass m
floating on the surface of a wave therefore varies from mgx{(R-r)/R} at the crest to mgx{
(R+r)/r} in the trough.
For a wave 600 ft. long and 30 ft. high the variation is from 084g in the crest to 115g in
the trough.

This s the explanation of the welt-known phenomenon of the tenderness of sailing boats
on the crest of a wave.
The virtual weight is less than the actual, and consequently the righting moment at any
angle of inclination is less on the crest than in still water.
The wind moment causing heel is not affected, and thus on the crest of a wave a boat, of
sufficient stiffness in smooth water, is liable to be blown over to a large angle and
possibly capsize. water, is liable
The virtual gravity will act at right angles to the wave slope, and a small raft will always
tend to set itself normal to the wave surface. This normal at any particular instant is
termed the virtual upright

Length in speedin speed period(time the

feet feetpersecond kts length is travelled
50 16.0 9.5 3.1sec
100 22.7 13.4 4..4
200 32.0 19.0 6.2
400 45.3 26.8 8.8
600 55. 32.8 10.8
800 641 37.9 12.5
1000 71.6 42.4 14.0
2000 101.5 60.0 19.8

Variation of Pressure in a Wave.

The increment of pressure from one trochoidal surface to the next is the same as the
increment between the corresponding layers in still water.
Therefore the pressure at any point in a trochoidal wave is the same as at the
corresponding point in still water.
For the fluid filaments between adjacent trochoids we not only have to satisfy the
condition of continuity but also the condition of lateral equilibrium, i.e. the water must be
a solid mass with no cavities.
For continuity, as already seen, ne =conStant.
Take a small cylinder between adjacent trochoidS (Fig. ), of cross section∞ . If the
pressure on the upper face is p, and on the lower face p+δp, then:

and since ,ne is constant along the stream the increment of pressure δ p is also constant.
That is to say, since the pressure on the surface is constant, on each of the sub-surfaces
the pressure is constant, and the trochoidal strip is capable of forming a stream of
continuous flow.
The area of a trochoidal strip corresponding to lines of rolling circles δy apart is obtained
as follows (see Fig. ):
Energy stored up in a Wave. The particles of a wave are revolving in circular orbits each
with a linear velocity ω r, and the energy due to this motion is kinetic energy.
The particles are also lifted above the level they occupied in still water, which is
potential energy.
It can be shown that the total energy per unit breadth of the wave is (1/8)wLH2.
The centre of gravity of a trochoidal strip is in the line of orbit centres, for:

1. Kinetic energy. Kinetic energy of a particle s

½ (W/g) ne dΘ ω² r² , and for the ship
WΠ ne (r²/ R)
Since ω² = (g/ R)
2. Potential energy = W 2Π ne ( r² /2R)
= WΠ ne (r²/ R) from (7)
So that nergy of strip is half potential and half kinetic and equals = 2 WΠ ne (r²/ R)
Substituting for ne = rδr + Rδy
The trochoidal wave theory as developed above assumes that the fluid is perfects i.e.
without viscosity, offering no resistance whatever to change of shape.
Water, however, is not a perfect fluid, but the theory fits in so well with all the observed
facts that it is generally accepted.
It can be shown that the motion in oscillatory waves in a perfect fluid cannot be
generated from rest, so that the theory fails to represent the actual motion.
Observations on Waves to determine the velocity, length, and height.
To find the velocity and length (Fig. 6.5).
Let V be the speed of the ship.
Θ be the angle of ship with the wave advance.
V1 ,, ,, speed of the waves.
L ,, ,, length of wave (crest to crest).
I ,, ,, distance between observing stations on the ship.
The speed of ship in direction of wave advance is V cos Θ, and speed of ship relative to
wave advance is V cos Θ+V1.
If t is the time interval of a wave crest as observed at the bow and stern positions
perpendicular to wave advance, then:
t = (I cos Θ I(V cosΘ+V1)
and V1={ (1—Vt)/t} cosΘ
If t’ be the time interval between successive crests as observed at the bow or stern
positions perpendicular to the wave advance, then:
L=(V cos Θ+V1)t’
=l x (t’/t) x cos Θ
If the ship is steaming away from the wave advance, then V in the above is changed to —

To find the height.

This is more difficult.
A position is taken up amidships in the ship so that when the ship is in the trough and
upright, successive crests appear to form a chain reaching towards the horizon.
The height of the observer’s eye above the water-line is then the height of the wave. Such
a method is inevitably liable to considerable inaccuracy.
It is seen that as the length of wave increases the ratio L÷H increases, and that the
standard ratio of L÷H =2O usually used for poising a ship on a wave for strength
calculations cannot fairly be applied to ships longer than about 470 ft.
Principal Formulae in Trochoidal Wave Theory. The following are the principal formulae
arising out of the trochoidal wave theory:
L=2ΠR r0= H/2 V1² = 1.8L
r=r0e –Y/R log10 r=log10 r0 – (1 /2.3) (y/R)
T = 0.44 √ L
Height of centre of orbits of given particle above the level of that particle in still water=
For the the wave surface this distance= ΠH²/ 4L
Virtual gravity at crest ={ (R-r) / R} x g
Virtual gravity at trough = {(R+r)/R} x g
Where L = length of wave in ft
H = height of wave
T = peridic time in seconds
V1 = velocity of waves in knots
R = radius of rolling circle in feet
Ro = radius of tracing arm in at surface
R = radius of tracing arm at depth y
Y = depth of line of orbit centres from that line for the surface trochoid
G = acceleration due to gravity in foot second units