Boat and stream problems is a subset of time, speed and distance type questions where in relative speed takes the foremost role. We always find several questions related to the above concept in SSC common graduate level exam as well as in bank PO exam. Upon listing the brief theory of the issue below we move to the various kinds of problems asked in the competitive examination.
Important Formulas – Boats and Streams
 Downstream
In running/moving water, the direction along the stream is called downstream.  Upstream
In running/moving water, the direction against the stream is called upstream.
 Let the speed of a boat in still water be u km/hr and the speed of the stream be v km/hr, then
Speed downstream = (u+v) km/hr
Speed upstream = (u – v) km/hr
 Let the speed downstream be a km/hr and the speed upstream be b km/hr, then
Speed in still water =1/2*(a+b)km/hr
Rate of stream = 1/2*(a−b) km/hr
Some more shortcut methods
 Assume that a man can row at the speed of x km/hr in still water and he rows the same distance up and down in a stream which flows at a rate of y km/hr. Then his average speed throughout the journey
= (Speed downstream × Speed upstream)/Speed in still water=((x+y)(x−y))/xkm/hr
 Let the speed of a man in still water be x km/hr and the speed of a stream be y km/hr. If he takes t hours more in upstream than to go downstream for the same distance, the distance
=((x* x –y* y)*t)/2ykm
 A man rows a certain distance downstream in t_{1} hours and returns the same distance upstream in t_{2} If the speed of the stream is y km/hr, then the speed of the man in still water
=y((t2+t1) / (t2−t1)) km/hr
 A man can row a boat in still water at x km/hr. In a stream flowing at y km/hr, if it takes him t hours to row a place and come back, then the distance between the two places
=t((x* x –y* y))/2xkm
 A man takes n times as long to row upstream as to row downstream the river. If the speed of the man is x km/hr and the speed of the stream is y km/hr, then
x=y*((n+1)/(n−1))
Solved Examples
Level 1
1. A man’s speed with the current is 15 km/hr and the speed of the current is 2.5 km/hr. The man’s speed against the current is:  
A. 8.5 km/hr  B. 10 km/hr. 
C. 12.5 km/hr  D. 9 km/hr 
Answer : Option B
Explanation :
Man’s speed with the current = 15 km/hr
=>speed of the man + speed of the current = 15 km/hr
speed of the current is 2.5 km/hr
Hence, speed of the man = 15 – 2.5 = 12.5 km/hr
man’s speed against the current = speed of the man – speed of the current
= 12.5 – 2.5 = 10 km/hr
2. In one hour, a boat goes 14 km/hr along the stream and 8 km/hr against the stream. The speed of the boat in still water (in km/hr) is:  
A. 12 km/hr  B. 11 km/hr 
C. 10 km/hr  D. 8 km/hr 
Answer : Option B
Explanation :
Let the speed downstream be a km/hr and the speed upstream be b km/hr, then
Speed in still water =1/2(a+b) km/hr and Rate of stream =1/2(a−b) km/hr
Speed in still water = 1/2(14+8) kmph = 11 kmph.
3. A boatman goes 2 km against the current of the stream in 2 hour and goes 1 km along the current in 20 minutes. How long will it take to go 5 km in stationary water?  
A. 2 hr 30 min  B. 2 hr 
C. 4 hr  D. 1 hr 15 min 
Answer : Option A
Explanation :
Speed upstream = 2/2=1 km/hr
Speed downstream = 1/(20/60)=3 km/hr
Speed in still water = 1/2(3+1)=2 km/hr
Time taken to travel 5 km in still water = 5/2= 2 hour 30 minutes
4. Speed of a boat in standing water is 14 kmph and the speed of the stream is 1.2 kmph. A man rows to a place at a distance of 4864 km and comes back to the starting point. The total time taken by him is:  
A. 700 hours  B. 350 hours 
C. 1400 hours  D. 1010 hours 
Answer : Option A
Explanation : Speed downstream = (14 + 1.2) = 15.2 kmph Speed upstream = (14 – 1.2) = 12.8 kmph Total time taken = 4864/15.2+4864/12.8 = 320 + 380 = 700 hours 
5. The speed of a boat in still water in 22 km/hr and the rate of current is 4 km/hr. The distance travelled downstream in 24 minutes is:  
A. 9.4 km  B. 10.2 km 
C. 10.4 km  D. 9.2 km 
Answer : Option C
Explanation :
Speed downstream = (22 + 4) = 26 kmph
Time = 24 minutes = 24/60 hour = 2/5 hour
distance travelled = Time × speed = (2/5)×26 = 10.4 km
6. A boat covers a certain distance downstream in 1 hour, while it comes back in 1^{1}⁄_{2} hours. If the speed of the stream be 3 kmph, what is the speed of the boat in still water?  
A. 14 kmph  B. 15 kmph 
C. 13 kmph  D. 12 kmph 
Answer : Option B
Explanation :
Let the speed of the boat in still water = x kmph
Given that speed of the stream = 3 kmph
Speed downstream = (x+3) kmph
Speed upstream = (x3) kmph
He travels a certain distance downstream in 1 hour and come back in 1^{1}⁄_{2} hour.
ie, distance travelled downstream in 1 hour = distance travelled upstream in 1^{1}⁄_{2} hour
since distance = speed × time, we have
(x+3)×1=(x−3)*3/2
=> 2(x + 3) = 3(x3)
=> 2x + 6 = 3x – 9
=> x = 6+9 = 15 kmph
7. A boat can travel with a speed of 22 km/hr in still water. If the speed of the stream is 5 km/hr, find the time taken by the boat to go 54 km downstream  
A. 5 hours  B. 4 hours 
C. 3 hours  D. 2 hours 
Answer : Option D
Explanation :
Speed of the boat in still water = 22 km/hr
speed of the stream = 5 km/hr
Speed downstream = (22+5) = 27 km/hr
Distance travelled downstream = 54 km
Time taken = distance/speed=54/27 = 2 hours
8. A boat running downstream covers a distance of 22 km in 4 hours while for covering the same distance upstream, it takes 5 hours. What is the speed of the boat in still water?  
A. 5 kmph  B. 4.95 kmph 
C. 4.75 kmph  D. 4.65 
Answer : Option B
Explanation :
Speed downstream = 22/4 = 5.5 kmph
Speed upstream = 22/5 = 4.4 kmph
Speed of the boat in still water = (½) x (5.5+4.42) = 4.95 kmph
9. A man takes twice as long to row a distance against the stream as to row the same distance in favor of the stream. The ratio of the speed of the boat (in still water) and the stream is:  
A. 3 : 1  B. 1 : 3 
C. 1 : 2  D. 2 : 1 
Answer : Option A
Explanation :
Let speed upstream = x
Then, speed downstream = 2x
Speed in still water = (2x+x)2=3x/2
Speed of the stream = (2x−x)2=x/2
Speed of boat in still water: Speed of the stream = 3x/2:x/2 = 3 : 1
Level 2
1. A motorboat, whose speed in 15 km/hr in still water goes 30 km downstream and comes back in a total of 4 hours 30 minutes. The speed of the stream (in km/hr) is:  
A. 10  B. 6 
C. 5  D. 4 
Answer : Option C
Explanation :
Speed of the motor boat = 15 km/hr
Let speed of the stream = v
Speed downstream = (15+v) km/hr
Speed upstream = (15v) km/hr
Time taken downstream = 30/(15+v)
Time taken upstream = 30/(15−v)
total time = 30/(15+v)+30/(15−v)
It is given that total time is 4 hours 30 minutes = 4.5 hour = 9/2 hour
i.e., 30/(15+v)+30/(15−v)=9/2
⇒1(15+v)+1(15−v)=(9/2)×30=3/20
⇒(15−v+15+v)/(15+v)(15−v)=3/20
⇒30/(15*15−v*v)=3/20
⇒30/(225−v*v)=3/20
⇒10/(225−v* v)=1/20
⇒225−v* v =200
⇒v* v =225−200=25
⇒v=5 km/hr
2. A man rows to a place 48 km distant and come back in 14 hours. He finds that he can row 4 km with the stream in the same time as 3 km against the stream. The rate of the stream is:  
A. 1 km/hr.  B. 2 km/hr. 
C. 1.5 km/hr.  D. 2.5 km/hr. 
Answer : Option A
Explanation :
Assume that he moves 4 km downstream in x hours
Then, speed downstream = distance/time=4/x km/hr
Given that he can row 4 km with the stream in the same time as 3 km against the stream
i.e., speed upstream = 3/4of speed downstream=> speed upstream = 3/x km/hr
He rows to a place 48 km distant and come back in 14 hours
=>48/(4/x)+48/(3/x)=14
==>12x+16x=14
=>6x+8x=7
=>14x=7
=>x=1/2
Hence, speed downstream = 4/x=4/(1/2) = 8 km/hr
speed upstream = 3/x=3/(1/2) = 6 km/hr
Now we can use the below formula to find the rate of the stream
Let the speed downstream be a km/hr and the speed upstream be b km/hr, then
Speed in still water =1/2*(a+b) km/hr
Rate of stream =12*(a−b) km/hr
Hence, rate of the stream = ½*(8−6)=1 km/hr
3. A boat running upstream takes 8 hours 48 minutes to cover a certain distance, while it takes 4 hours to cover the same distance running downstream. What is the ratio between the speed of the boat and speed of the water current respectively? 

A. 5 : 6  B. 6 : 5 
C. 8 : 3  D. 3 : 8 
Answer : Option C
Explanation :
Let the rate upstream of the boat = x kmph
and the rate downstream of the boat = y kmph
Distance travelled upstream in 8 hrs 48 min = Distance travelled downstream in 4 hrs.
Since distance = speed × time, we have
x×(8*4/5)=y×4
x×(44/5)=y×4
x×(11/5)=y— (equation 1)
Now consider the formula given below
Let the speed downstream be a km/hr and the speed upstream be b km/hr, then
Speed in still water =1/2(a+b) km/hr
Rate of stream =1/2(a−b) km/hr
Hence, speed of the boat = (y+x)/2
speed of the water = (y−x)/2
Required Ratio = (y+x)/2:(y−x)/2=(y+x):(y−x)=(11x/5+x):(11x/5−x)
(Substituted the value of y from equation 1)
=(11x+5x):(11x−5x)=16x:6x=8:3
4. A man can row at 5 kmph in still water. If the velocity of current is 1 kmph and it takes him 1 hour to row to a place and come back, how far is the place?  
A. 3.2 km  B. 3 km 
C. 2.4 km  D. 3.6 km 
Answer : Option C
Explanation :
Speed in still water = 5 kmph
Speed of the current = 1 kmph
Speed downstream = (5+1) = 6 kmph
Speed upstream = (51) = 4 kmph
Let the requited distance be x km
Total time taken = 1 hour
=>x/6+x/4=1
=> 2x + 3x = 12
=> 5x = 12
=> x = 2.4 km
5. A man can row threequarters of a kilometer against the stream in 11^{1}⁄_{4} minutes and down the stream in 7^{1}⁄_{2}minutes. The speed (in km/hr) of the man in still water is:  
A. 4 kmph  B. 5 kmph 
C. 6 kmph  D. 8 kmph 
Answer : Option B
Explanation :
Distance = 3/4 km
Time taken to travel upstream = 11^{1}⁄_{4} minutes
= 45/4 minutes = 45/(4×60) hours = 3/16 hours
Speed upstream = Distance/Time= (3/4)/ (3/16) = 4 km/hr
Time taken to travel downstream = 7^{1}⁄_{2}minutes = 15/2 minutes = 15/2×60 hours = 1/8 hours
Speed downstream = Distance/Time= (3/4)/ (1/8) = 6 km/hr
Rate in still water = (6+4)/2=10/2=5 kmph
6. A boat takes 90 minutes less to travel 36 miles downstream than to travel the same distance upstream. If the speed of the boat in still water is 10 mph, the speed of the stream is:  
A. 4 mph  B. 2.5 mph 
C. 3 mph  D. 2 mph 
Answer : Option D
Explanation :
Speed of the boat in still water = 10 mph
Let speed of the stream be x mph
Then, speed downstream = (10+x) mph
speed upstream = (10x) mph
Time taken to travel 36 miles upstream – Time taken to travel 36 miles downstream= 90/60 hours
=>36/(10−x)−36/(10+x)=3/2=>12/(10−x)−12/(10+x)=1/2=>24(10+x)−24(10−x)=(10+x)(10−x)
=>240+24x−240+24x=(100−x* x)=>48x=100− (x* x)=> x* x +48x−100=0
=>(x+50)(x−2)=0=>x = 50 or 2; Since x cannot be negative, x = 2 mph
7. At his usual rowing rate, Rahul can travel 12 miles downstream in a certain river in 6 hours less than it takes him to travel the same distance upstream. But if he could double his usual rowing rate for his 24mile round trip, the downstream 12 miles would then take only one hour less than the upstream 12 miles. What is the speed of the current in miles per hour?  
A. 2*1/3 mph  B. 1*1/3 mph 
C. 1*2/3 mph  D. 2*2/3 mph 
Answer : Option D
Explanation :
Let the speed of Rahul in still water be x mph
and the speed of the current be y mph
Then, Speed upstream = (x – y) mph
Speed downstream = (x + y) mph
Distance = 12 miles
Time taken to travel upstream – Time taken to travel downstream = 6 hours
⇒12/(x−y)−12/(x+y)=6
⇒12(x+y)−12(x−y)=6(x*x−y*y)
⇒24y=6(x*x−y*y)
⇒4y= x*x−y*y
⇒x * x =(y* y +4y)⋯(Equation 1)
Now he doubles his speed. i.e., his new speed = 2x
Now, Speed upstream = (2x – y) mph
Speed downstream = (2x + y) mph
In this case, Time taken to travel upstream – Time taken to travel downstream = 1 hour
⇒12/(2x−y)−12/(2x+y)=1
⇒12(2x+y)−12(2x−y)=4*x* x –y* y
⇒24y=4*x* x –y* y
⇒4*x* x = y* y +24y⋯(Equation 2)
(Equation 1 × 4)⇒4x* x =4(y* y +4y)⋯(Equation 3)
(From Equation 2 and 3, we have)
y* y +24y=4(y* y +4y)⇒y* y +24y=4y* y +16y⇒3y* y =8y⇒3y=8
y=8/3 mphi.e., speed of the current = 8/3 mph=2*2/3 mph