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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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  #11  
Old 04-20-2008
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The long keel ship really does not steer well in reverse. Often it won't steer at all. Add a stiff breeze, and it's far worse. I am moving from the finger pontoons, largely for that reason.
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Old 04-20-2008
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I think what you need to do, in this instance, is to just go out in an open area where you can just experiment and practice going in reverse (wouldn't hurt if you had something you could let float in the water to give you a sense of perspective).

After watching you leave Morehead City last fall, it appears to me you aren't familiar enough with the boat to fully know what it's going to do. That's not meant in any negative sense, just an observation. So just go out, and try different things in reverse, until you find something you're comfortable with.
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Not sure I understand the situation so I might be way off...

Are you backing into the slip? If so, go bow first.

When I have a cross wind at the slip and heading downwind, I go down the fairway past the slip and turn around so I am now heading upwind before turning into the slip. gives more time to get in before the bow blows off.
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Old 04-20-2008
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Went out yesterday wind barely blowing, but on the return hitting 20+ I did like most have said so far got far enough into the wind to let the bow get blown parallel with the slip and then short bursts of reverse to back her in. Its always tough particularly when the WHOLE marina pokes their heads like gophers seeing who screws up. Practice practice and dont be afraid of throwing a bumper on the pilings.
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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 :-)

Bill
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Tried and true

My boat is a Tartan 27, full keel with a centerboard. The centerboard is useless at the slip, though as I have just under 4 feet of depth at low tide. I don't have a lot of prop walk, but when backing my turning radius just about doubles. If I need to turn more quickly than the boat wants to while backing, I bring the rudder across to the opposite direction, as it passes midship I shift to neutral and then forward. When the rudder is in place I give a short (one or two seconds) burst of power to "kick" the boat further in the desired direction, and then reverse the process so that I am backing up again. The downside is that you lose some speed astern, but you can effectively pivot around the center axis of the boat briefly.

I mostly single hand nowadays and the best thing I ever learned about my own slip is to rig ratlines on both sides. More often than not I simply use the pilings and lines to walk the boat in and out of her slip. It's very controlled, very calm, and it always works, even if the engine cuts out completely. Obviously this is more difficult if you are coming into a transient slip, but it can also work in that scenario if the conditions are not too bad.

My advise is get out on the river (lake, whatever) on a calm day. Pick a visual point of reference that is as close to you as possible (a day marker works great for this if it's not too crowded) and practice maneuvering under power for a while. You need to know your boat and what it can and cannot do. When it comes time to dock, go slow, plan out every step ahead of time, and then execute your plan.

I am back in the slip that my Grandfather had built at the local club for the boat that I now own. That slip has been there over 20 years and I have entered and exited it more times than I can count. To this day I can occasionally be seen rafting along the outer pilings to the slip (parallel to the main pier) on occasion just to buy enough time to get things right in my head and on deck. I come in to the slip with docklines on deck just as if my permanent lines did not exist so that I have options without needing crew.

Take your time, plan the maneuver, and practice practice practice. I was forced to practice by my granddad and dad as a kid and I can't thank them enough. My pride is worth a hell of a lot less than the larger boat in the next slip.
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Thanks guys, lots of advice to consider here
PBeezer - I am new to this boat, true - but she seems to enjoy testing me occasionally

I did try the short burst of power in reverse to gain speed and then go neutral and steer. The problem with this is having separate gas/shift controls (which in case of reverse go in opposite directions) and fairly slow hydraulic steering. I.e. for something like that I have to (assuming I am already at idle in neutral):
- Gear switch back
- Gas handle forward all the way
- Gas to neutral
- Gear fwd to neutral
- 3 turns of the wheel to port (thats hard over for me)
If this is a switch from the burst forward - add that many more moves to undo it (and 6 turns of wheel lock to lock).

It takes a while to do and it won't get any faster simply because that's how they are set. So, certainly anything that might have reduced the prop walk would be welcome (but that said - it does not seem there is a consensus on props). Actually, now that I wrote this, I wonder if a single handle control would do more for me than a prop

The prop is right handed (marked RH). I do notice that the boat turns counter clockwise (i.e. stern moves to the stbd side), but it seems someone mentioned that it is supposed to be the opposite with right hand prop? Could anyone confirm. I am fairly sure about the counter clockwise thing (I spent a total of a few hours trying reverse and turns in open space since last year, and thats the only thing that seems relatively consistant) but now I wonder if I may be wrong somehow.


For those that gave specific docking advice - I will try each option next, thanks guys!
The docking configuration is - finger slip on the right hand side of slipway, boats on both sides, entrance facing south - south-west. As of yesterday wind was blowing out of the south-southeast.
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Old 04-20-2008
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Agree with Bill above that a Max prop will improve reverse performance - the blades are always in the correct orientation for thrust.

So theoretically you'll get some way on faster than with a michigan wheel.

Practice and planning ahead will help, but frankly some boats will simply refuse to cooperate. The good news is your slip mates will always be motivated to help you out upon arrival
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When docking, I always aim at the cheapest boat in case it all goes south. Hey! Anyone want to raft up?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
Agree with Bill above that a Max prop will improve reverse performance - the blades are always in the correct orientation for thrust.

So theoretically you'll get some way on faster than with a michigan wheel.

Practice and planning ahead will help, but frankly some boats will simply refuse to cooperate. The good news is your slip mates will always be motivated to help you out upon arrival
The slip mates on the stbd side might be, but the guy on the left - I am not so sure about. His boat looks like she hadn't seen her master in a long time. I just hope his dock lines don't fail too soon. But there are many more people out there that might be inclined to help Docks are shorter than boats and many stick out quite a bit.


I'll chalk this up as one more for the reversing prop.
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