Backing a sailboat into a slip - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 67 Old 06-02-2011 Thread Starter
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Talking Backing a sailboat into a slip

This may sound stupid for a sailor of many years, but now that I have gotten over the one foot-itis and have a Newport 30, I find myself in a slip where I have to back into it...HELP...going forward is not an issue, but I nearly killed my wife trying to back in to the slip last weekend...what is the secret? (and "don't do it " has already been offered by several sailing "friends", or at least they were last week)...
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post #2 of 67 Old 06-02-2011
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Originally Posted by simpsoned View Post
I nearly killed my wife trying to back in to the slip last weekend...what is the secret?
Practice.
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post #3 of 67 Old 06-02-2011
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If your boat is like mine, it crawls to port when you accelerate in reverse. I usually line up perpendicular to the slip, maybe a boat-length away and hit reverse. The rear end will go left as if on a pendulum. The more power in reverse you apply, the more to the left it will go. If you reduce the power, then eventually it will go backwards more straightly (I know, not a word) letting the rudder engage. Now this formula is all dependent on the direction and force of the wind. When you line up perpendicular and the wind is blowing hard to starboard, then you have to be aggressive about setting the boat motion into the wind and powering hard to get to face it. Anyway, it's fun to work on it and successfully accomplish it. Rope guides from the inside to the outside posts help a lot. Good Luck.
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post #4 of 67 Old 06-02-2011
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Not really sure what you are asking for. What is the slip like? Why do you have to back in? How does the boat handle in reverse?

My boat has prop walk to port and handles decently in reverse. Key in my case is to get her moving enough to get rudder to grab, shift into neutral, and glide in.
I prefer to stand forward of the wheel, or tiller, looking to the stern. Get the boat moving in reverse enough for rudder to grab, shift into neutral to get rid of prop wash, and steer into slip. Use the prop walk to your advantage (either direction) to pull toward dock. Standing forward of the wheel makes it much more comfortable for me as it just seems comfortable.

Good luck! Hope your wife survives...or you in case you continue to screw up.
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post #5 of 67 Old 06-02-2011
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Does the term "Prop Walk" ring a bell? If not Google it and read up on it. Your Newport 30 is very similar to my Catalina 30. What I did was find an empty basin and drive the boat around backwards for a while. Start, turn, stop, repeat... about a zillion times until I got the hang of how much power it takes to get the boat moving, and how much correction it takes to neutraize the prop walk.

Are we there yet?
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post #6 of 67 Old 06-02-2011
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Don't know your slip arrangement, but a spring line might help, once you get close enough to the dock. I use one that is attached to the dock and laid out so I can pick it up with a boat hook and secure it to a midship cleat. Backing in at that point is child's play. The trip is to pick it up in the first place, which may take some practice.
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post #7 of 67 Old 06-03-2011
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I find backing into my slip easier than going in forward. My boat does back pretty well, so that helps. OTOH, I almost always have a cross wind.

The secret is to approach in reverse, rather than trying to switch into reverse right in front of the slip. With the usual prevailing winds, I head towards my slip in forward, then do a U turn when I reach it, and don't switch to reverse until I am a boat length or two away, and on the other side of the alley. (I have an unusually wide alley.) This gives me plenty of room to get water over the rudder to overcome the prop walk. I step around to the other side of the wheel, drop the throttle back to idle, and drive her in like a car. The cool part is, when you're moving in reverse, you can stop on a dime with a bit of forward thrust.

If your approach alley is too narrow, try entering the alley in reverse and backing in all the way. You might get some funny looks, but it works for my boat. It also helps to have fenders permanently set up in the slip.

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post #8 of 67 Old 06-03-2011
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Either reverse a lot prior to entering the slip. The boat will be moving and the rudder will be affective. The other method is to use bursts of forward to control the positon of the boat. When in forward the water from the prop passes over the rudder which makes it respond.Take the control to forward with some revs, position the rudder according to the direction you want to hold the boat. After the boats direction is OK, just rev, but consider your prop walk. You have to turn the boat less than the positon you want to hold if your prop walk adds to your direction, or more if it moves to other direction.
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post #9 of 67 Old 06-03-2011
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heck, you guys are making this real complicated. With 2 hulls, I keep the helm amidships and steer with both throttles.

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post #10 of 67 Old 06-03-2011
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Gee tropicat, I always thought cats could just park over top a finger slip and the crew just jumps off without even tying a line!


I agree with others.. get the boat moving in reverse before trying to back it in. then use the momentum and be ready to "gun" it in forward to stop her just inches from the dock, while the current if there is any.. gently moves her against the finger pier. I've only done this a few times at a local marina that has an outdoor cafe the overlooks the docks.. ALL the patrons WATCH... one must stay cool!

Denise, Bristol PA, Oday 30. On Tidal Delaware River, Anchor Yacht Club.
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My last project!
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My boat is sold!
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