Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Arlington, VA
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I have to disagree with the comment above re: feathering props being useless in reverse. My experience, and that of many others, is just the reverse (no pun intended).
I installed a 3-blade Max Prop on my 42' 14-ton displacement sloop some 18 years ago, replacing a 3-blade fixed prop. I immediately noticed a pronounced improvement in reverse. That prop gives me excellent reversing power...much greater than a fixed prop. It doesn't do anything for me in forward that the fixed prop didn't, except feather when sailing and that's a big advantage.
I concur with the sage advice above about finding an open place to test your backing skills. Every boat is different. Most boats will respond to these steps:
1. Use reverse power just enough to get some reverse movement through the water, then go into neutral and use the rudder to steer; if you've got enough boat speed and a large enough rudder, this will work.
2. Use forward power judiciously when necessary with the rudder far over to kick your stern around, to counteract the propwalk.
For example, here's how it might go:
1. Slowly enter the fairway with the bow not far off your slip, then turn away to get the stern moving toward the slip;
2. If there's a crosswind, locate your turn a bit to windward of your slip, and turn the bow a bit too far to counteract the propwalk you know is coming;
3. Throw her in reverse before the stern lines up with your slip, to stop forward movement and begin moving in reverse;
4. When reverse movement begins, use neutral and throw the rudder hard over to help the stern move in the desired direction;
5. If needed, throw the rudder the opposite way quickly and give a small burst of forward power, throwing water against the rudder and kicking your stern around; quickly follow this with some reverse power to maintain movement in reverse.
Repeat #4 and #5 as needed.
If you practice this in an open area, you'll learn a lot about your boat's behavior in reverse, and your ability to control her.
Finally, keep in mind there are times and conditions when you should NOT try to enter your slip. The potential damage to your boat and others could be substantial if you don't recognize these times, resulting in insurance claims which hurt us all, not just your pride :-)