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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Learning to Sail
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Old 08-29-2006
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prop walk

coming from a single screw stern drive to a cat 34 with righthand prop i cant believe the lack of control when first going into reverse. would it be correct to assume its impossible to make the boat back to starboard when first going into reverse? what is the fastest way to make the boat back to starboard?
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Old 08-29-2006
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Surges might work

We have a Maxprop so prop walk is not too much of a problem. However, backing slowly and turning into the slip is a problem, so I use surges to get moving and make the turn between the surges.
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Old 08-29-2006
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The best way to get a boat that has severe prop walk to back to the direction opposite the walk direction is to get the boat moving in reverse and then put the engine into neutral... that will eliminate the propwalk and allow you to move in reverse to starboard. Lower RPMs will reduce the amount of prop walk btw.
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Old 08-29-2006
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Be patient

One thing I see a lot is people putting the boat in reverse with the rudder already hard over in their intended direction. This just puts the brakes on and exaggerates the prop walk effect. Be patient, keep the rudder amidships until you have enough speed to steer.

The other thing you can do is turn the boat a little too far before reversing, so that when you are finally going backwards, you've "walked out" the extra angle and the boat is now pointing the way you want to go.

With a "new-to-you" boat it's really a good idea to go out and find some space in calm condition (maybe a floating log? or even your own fender as a reference point) and practice maneuvers so that when you need to look brilliant in close quarters you know how the boat behaves.
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Old 08-29-2006
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Aah, the joys of prop walk!

I agree with 'sailingdog' about putting the engine in neutral after getting some astern way on, and using lower revs. Works for me most times. In my boat I have difficulty in making the stern move to port when going astern. Having a full keel doesn't help me either, I think. In some conditions, she just will not respond and I have resorted to completing a reversing manoeuvre where I'm really only in partial control! At least I can stop if I need to by going forward. On occasions I have given a 'kick' forward to start the swing in the direction required, then slowly apply astern revs to complete the manoevre, but this can get tricky in a tight spot.

I also agree with 'faster' - find some place safe and practice - get to know your boat and it's behaviour.

My berth at the marina is port side to. With the astern prop walk kicking the stern to starboard, this means I have to approach very shallow and apply low revs astern early to stop so I minimise the prop walk taking the boat further away from the finger. A couple of times I've completely stuffed up the approach, so I reverse right out then start again!

Best advice is slow and easy - nothing worse than trying to 'power' yourself out of a situation, then find yourself in a no-win "I wish I hadn't 'ave done that" situation with a major damages bill to settle.

There was an excellent series of articles on prop walk in 'Practical Boat Owner', a UK magazine that I get here in Oz.

Good Luck!
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I think the best way to get the stern to starboard is to put the helm hard to port and give the boat a short burst of Ahead. This will start the stern to starboard, then you can shift to reverse. If you do this carefully you won't make much forward progress - a line doubled around a port dock cleat or piling can provide some insurance until you are comfortable with the exercise. When you start backing just release the free end of the dock line and pull it aboard. This is the same manouver for getting off a portside, leeward dock.
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One thing I see a lot is people putting the boat in reverse with the rudder already hard over in their intended direction. This just puts the brakes on and exaggerates the prop walk effect. Be patient, keep the rudder amidships until you have enough speed to steer.
This is very, very good advice. You should never turn the rudder until the boat is actually making way in reverse. If it isn't you'll end up turning the boat in the opposite direction you actually want it to go...making your job much more difficult.
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Old 08-30-2006
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I typically have slips I have to back into. First you have to allow for any set by the wind. Then, I find (as does Sailingfool above) you have to do your "steering" by way of a quick kick ahead with the rudder to port, to counteract the prop walk in reverse. Use reverse for initial propulsion, neutral for gliding, a kick ahead for steering, and your crew stationed strategically on deck to fend off or grab dock lines as you back in, they can make you look good even if you weren't.
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Old 08-30-2006
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One thing that a friend of mine has recently tried, which may or may not be an option for you is a RingProp. According to my friend, this prop eliminates much of the prop walk that is caused by a standard prop. Probably a bit more drag than a standard prop, but makes manuevering much easier according to hm.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 08-30-2006
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I am just going to jump in with a thougth (for me at least) regarding prop walk:

I LOVE IT!!!

Once you get used to it, you will find that you use it all the time to get your boat in. I do. I don't want to go to another prop (esp folding) b/c many of them lose the prop walk (so I have been told). It does take practice and more planning on your part though.

You might just find you miss the prop walk after you get used to it. When you get into a crowded marina/anchorage, being able to walk the stern over (without help) can be a Godsend!! Just get used to it and its perculiarities, you will like it.


Just my thoughts. Others dissagree.
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