People who live on the land and never visit the seashore or "brave the dangers of a sea voyage, have very incompetent ideas of the force of combined wind and water. The force of a mass of water, as a wave thirty or forty feet high, moving even at a slow rate may be imagined, and possibly some idea of its effects on an obstacle in its course estimated from the descriptions of travelers; but the fact of the immense force of wind and wave must be, with all land dwellers, a myste- ry. It has been stated that the waves of the Atlantic, the "stormy ocean," are at their fiercest, only thirty feet high.; from our experience we incline to a much higher figure. This, however, is merely the wave on the wide ocean without an obstacle to resist its course, but when sufficient resistance is offered, it is wonderful how high the wind's force will carry the water. We remember the storm of April, 1851, which swept away the Minot's Ledge lighthouse, off Cohas-set, Massachusetts, and lasted three days and nights. We then, from Lynn beach, saw the waves carried up the face of the rocks, off the peninsula of Nahant, sixty feet high, and at least twenty feet above, and thrown in spray over the land. At the entrance of the Cromarty Firth,Scotland,the waves, in a northeast storm, meeting the obstacle of the precipitous rock known as the " South Sutor," rise to its top, not less than one hundred and ten, or one hundred and twenty feet. The ob-ject of the plan shown in the accompanying engraving is to utilize this uplifting power of the wind-driven water for purposes beneficial to man, If waves impelled by the winds will leap up precipitous rocks, they will rise much higher when the surface on which they strike is curved to present an easy ascent. Such is the design of the breakwater shown in the engraving. It is the invention of a Spanish engineer, J. Ruiz Leon, and was patented in the United States, March 30,1869. He describes its construction and operation substantially as follows : On the sea coast he raises a hollow dike, the exposed face of which is curved, the base being an inclined plane continued several feet below the sea level, and being pierced with a series of conduits, the inner ends of which are provided with valves opening to the inclosed space, or reservoir. These valves allow the entrance of the water from the surf, but prevent its escape to the sea as the wave retires. Thus a quantity of water passes into the reservoir at each uplifting of the wave. Within the dike may be erected mills of various kinds moved by water wheels driven by this stored-up power. Now,to return this water to the sea the inventor proposes a canal of a zigzag course, leading from the tail race of the mill to the sea through the embankment, the canal at its debouchure widening and having a number of piers, arranged like the alternate squares on a chess board. The object of these and of the angles of the canal is to prevent the action of the waves and to allow the water to be discharged at the ordinary ocean level. Already has this plan been successfully applied on the island of -Cuba. Where the tides are insignificant in hight this device yields the best results. Where the tide creates great differences of level it is necessary to modify somewhat the plan, by placing the wheel on a floating platform or raft. The patentee thinks that it will not be difficult to create a power by his plan that will be equal and continuous all the year round; a simple method being to store up water raised in storms in a reservoir to be used in seasons of comparative calmness. Further information may be gained by addressing J. Ruiz Leon, care of J. N. Pauldinjr, 30 Broadway, New York city.
This article was originally published with the title "Leon's Kimasthene" in Scientific American 20, 21, 321 (May 1869)