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Old 12-24-2001
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Choosing a Prop

What would be your choice for a feathering propeller for a Beneteau 473 with a Westerbeke 63 hp engine?

Sue & Larry respond:
Thanks for your question. Our first cruising boat, Safari, was a Beneteau 461 that came equipped from the factory with a standard 21-inch, three-blade Michigan prop. She motored like a "bat out of hell," but we found that when we locked the prop under sail, we lost nearly a knot in boat speed. As a solution, we fitted her with a 20-inch Max Prop, VP model. Although we felt that we lost a small amount of forward thrust with this prop, our handling in reverse was fantastic as the blades rotate and really "bite" when backing down. The feathering of the blades when under sail allowed us to re-coup that knot of speed we were losing when we locked down our fixed three blade Michigan prop.

If we were making the same decision again today, we’d also look at fitting our boat with an Autoprop. With Autoprop, the pitch adjusts automatically while underway to maximize thrust and minimize fuel consumption. Like the Max Prop, when under sail, the blades feather back to reduce drag. Although we haven’t personally used the Autoprop, we’ve heard nothing but good reports from their owners. You can obtain further information on Autoprop here at SailNet (just type that word in the search box at the top of any page on the website).

Should you decide upon a Max Prop, your best option is to deal directly with PYI, the company that imports and services the product in the US. They can be reached at (800) 523-7558. We believe that PYI is a rarity in today’s marketplace. Their courteous, prompt, and knowledgeable staff provides possibly the best customer service of any company in the marine industry. With information about your boat’s engine and transmission, they can correctly size a prop for you.

Good luck, and happy sailing

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