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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail > Reverse is an adventure
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Thread: Reverse is an adventure Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
05-05-2010 05:18 PM
Stiche I know this doesn't apply to your boat, but, since I've seen so many folks complain about reverse in smaller sail boats (less that 35'), I thought I'd chime in for those of us that have outboard motors.

Maneuvering in reverse in ANY smaller sailboat is overwhelmingly difficult for the learning skipper. I figured it out the hard way, but fortunately fairly early on... To maneuver in reverse with an outboard mounted on the center of the stern (NOT offset), you need to manipulate two pieces- the motor itself, and the tiller. Point the prop in the direction you want your stern to go, and use the tiller to manipulate the bow. Leaving the motor "centered" causes the bow to move, but the stern respond in time, so you wander. Find some bouys and practice on a calm day. I can thread a needle in reverse now with a 25' sailboat.

-Mike
05-05-2010 03:50 PM
losesightofland Every boat takes getting used to in reverse. I might suggest finding an area to practice. On the coast of Maine where I sail, we have a lot of lobster pots, so if I'm on a boat that's new to me, I'll go draw an imaginary line between two pots with my eye and try to hit it right on the mark while in reverse. Take her out for a spin in reverse and just try a few things out at different speeds. Trial and error in an open area is a great way to learn, you'll have a much better understanding of what her natural tendencies are, as well as her capabilities under various speeds, conditions, etc.
-Nick
05-05-2010 03:42 PM
SVCarolena We have a very narrow slip and generally back in to make leaving less of an issue. Because there is very little room between the fingerpier on one side and our neighbor on the other, propwalk is a major issue for us. What we have learned to do is keep two springlines tied to the pilings at the end of our slip. When we return, we pull up very slowly alongside the pilings and grab the springlines. We come to a stop with the stern just past our slip. We then put the boat in reverse and use the springlines with a half wrap on the cleats in the cockpit. We keep a little tension on the lines as we back, and by increasing tension one line or the other, we are able to keep the boat straight as we back into the slip. It is a little slower than trying to just drive in, but even in high winds it works very well. Better to be slow than come in out of control and risk hitting the dock or our neighbor.
05-05-2010 03:25 PM
AdamLein
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaschrumpf View Post
What about a spring line from an aft cleat to a dock cleat or piling in a line perpendicular to the boat's long axis? That would keep the stern from walking, but would it do so at the cost of rotating the bow away from the dock as well?
Not sure I'm picturing this right. Does the line from a stern cleat to the nearest dock cleat? That could counteract the prop walk, but I'd call it a brest line... it would be hard to back out of the slip with that line on.

Alternatively with a spring line running forward from a stern cleat, the direction of pull isn't really right to counteract prop walk. I expect the boat would just pivot around her bow.
05-05-2010 02:45 PM
jaschrumpf What about a spring line from an aft cleat to a dock cleat or piling in a line perpendicular to the boat's long axis? That would keep the stern from walking, but would it do so at the cost of rotating the bow away from the dock as well?
05-05-2010 01:44 PM
Nitefly Thanks for the responses. Looks like I have a couple techniques to try out.
05-04-2010 06:06 PM
Faster On some boats prop walk ceases to be a factor once you're at a maneuvering speed in reverse... if this is not the case then shifting to neutral strategically should help.

Other boats, however will slowly turn in a particular direction regardless of your efforts to "steer".. these are the most difficult to deal with in close quarters. In this case learning the boat and trying to set yourself up for the easiest move will help. (ie choosing to back in to make leaving easier, or vice-versa), or as Adam has pointed out leaving one way in certain conditions and another way if tide/wind is reversed.

Poor reverse performance has always been one of the 'deal breakers' for us in our boat selections.
05-04-2010 05:50 PM
AdamLein Don't have experience with your particular boat, but I can sympathize.

All the comments so far are good, especially about shifting into neutral to disable prop walk. One comment about prop walk, though... on most boats (all boats with right-handed props), prop walk is to starboard in forward and port in reverse (i.e. the stern is pushed in those directions). If you forget, curl the fingers of your right hand and point your thumb in the direction the motor is pushing your boat. Your fingers curl in the direction the prop is turning.

The next thing to realize is that, depending on what direction the wind is coming from, you might want to back out in one direction or the other. In my boat, there's a very strong tendency for the bow to blow off downwind. Since I need to depart to starboard, a wind from port is very nice since I can just back out straight and quick and the wind and prop walk will work together and make for a nice tight turn, after which I'll motor ahead.

On the other hand, sometimes the wind is coming from starboard. In this case I'll back to starboard all the way out into the marina's fairway, then motor ahead. It's tricky since i'm fighting the prop walk in this case.

Learn to work with the various forces acting on your boat, instead of against them, and you'll have a much easier time of it.
05-04-2010 05:33 PM
deniseO30 I do that.. use the rudder and put er back into neutral the more I practice reverse the more I'm able to maneuver her. Standing with your back to the bow works too!
05-04-2010 05:13 PM
CalebD With a 2 blade prop reverse can be an adventure on our Tartan 27. I am not an expert but the best advice I have been given so far seems to be thus:
- keep the tiller/wheel centered at first
- rev up the engine in reverse until the boat starts moving backwards. At this point the rudder should start to 'grab' and some people will even put their engine in neutral to stop the prop walk effect from occurring.
- if you can use the prop walk effect to help you turn then so much the better.

I still need to practice with reverse while away from obstructions.

For your first overnight anchoring I would recommend Harness Creek which is a short ways up the South River. There is a 'gunk hole' off on the right that is surrounded by a park (no houses) so it's a great spot and an easy sail from where you are.
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