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Big boat handling

Does anyone have any advice on learning to handle a 60' 55,000 lb boat with very slow steering under engine power?

I'm very comfortable teaching on anything up to 40'. I've sailed a 50' ex charter Beneteau a bit.

This beast is massive. We are on a T dock. It couldn't be easier. He has a bow thruster.

I'll bet the wind catches the superstructure and sails the boat in the wrong direction.

I also bet that the steering is very sluggish, and backing up is practically non-existent.

To add insult to injury all my instincts will be wrong because it is supposed to have a counter-clockwise prop with a pull to the starboard in reverse and you push the transmission lever forward to go backward and pull it to go forward. Visibility from the helm is limited.

Any suggestions on how to get started.

I don't want to let this opportunity to pass me by but there is a significant opportunity to get into real trouble also.

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Last edited by davidpm; 3 Weeks Ago at 11:00 PM.
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post #2 of 24 Old 3 Weeks Ago
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Re: Big boat handling

The bigger the boat the slower everything happens. I operated an 80 footer that was 15 turns lock to lock and she was a breeze to handle because her prop was nearly 5' in diameter which gave her lots of thrust.
It sounds as though someone got cheap and picked up the wrong prop and it is probably going into forward to go backwards and vice versa. I had a boat like that and if this is so and it has a hydraulic transmission, the reverse clutch plates will burn out being used in forward.
Skipping Stone is 53' and 77k# and handles just fine. Don't worry about the windage as it's plenty heavy enough to remain in place longer than any smaller, lighter boat you have ever operated and the bow thruster will help a lot.
You will also get used to the hydraulic steering quickly. The only real difference is that you won't feel any resistance from the rudder, no matter how much weather or lee helm you have.
Don't let this boat intimidate you. It will be a lot easier than a smaller, lighter boat to handle.

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Re: Big boat handling

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Originally Posted by capta View Post
Don't let this boat intimidate you. It will be a lot easier than a smaller, lighter boat to handle.
Thanks for the encouragement

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It is a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive.
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Re: Big boat handling

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It sounds as though someone got cheap and picked up the wrong prop and it is probably going into forward to go backwards and vice versa. I had a boat like that and if this is so and it has a hydraulic transmission, the reverse clutch plates will burn out being used in forward.
Thanks for the warning. I didn't think about the prop being wrong.

The boat just motored from Fl to CT successfully so could there be another explanation to the reverse shifter setup?

Maybe a linkage issue.

____________ After thinking a bit.

Now I'm really confused. If a motor transmission/motor can be clockwise or counterclockwise and a prop can be clockwise or counterclockwise and the linkage can be swapped how do determine which component is wrong?

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Last edited by davidpm; 3 Weeks Ago at 03:12 AM.
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Re: Big boat handling

I don't think you will find much difference in how you handle 60 ft vs 40 ft. Everything just takes a bit longer. Longer stopping distance, bigger turning radius etc. But that should be about it.

For the turns in the wheel, there should be a rudder angle indicator? If not count the yurns on and off. You may find counting out loud helps. 1,2, 3 to starboard, then count them off; 1, 2, 3.

As for hydraulic steering. I think you might be happy for it in a bigger boat. The wheel will have less of a tendency to slam over into its stops in reverse. You don't need to worry about the wheel getting away from you or even hurting you so much with hydraulic.

Not sure whats going on with your prop.
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Re: Big boat handling

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For the turns in the wheel, there should be a rudder angle indicator?
There is a rudder angle indicator and it seems to be reasonably accurate.

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Re: Big boat handling

If the owner bought a rh prop instead of a left, all you'd have to do to make it work is run the trany in reverse, as you have described (backward shifting). The clutch plates may last some time but with a trany like a Velvet Drive (BW) there are about 7 clutch plates for forward and only 2 for reverse (I don't remember exactly, but this gives you an idea) and 2 won't hold up for too long.

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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Re: Big boat handling

I'd get her out in open water, drop a couple of anchored racing buoys or fenders in the water, or use an existing no wake buoy, and practice turns and coming alongside, stopping backing etc. to get used to the turning radius, amount of carry etc.

If you have enough turning room, you can practice on a T-Dock with a series of near touch and goes. Fenders out a few dock lines ready, but just get as close as comfortable then take off and do it again, until you are comfortable.
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Re: Big boat handling

Exactly as @tempest says.
Take the boat out and teach it yo obay you by doing Figure of 8s around some markers. Then do it in astern.

A 60 footer is only a big boat till you spank it.




You sure won't wanna go back to 40 footers after.
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Re: Big boat handling

Put a sticker near the shifter that indicates where forward and reverse are. Sounds silly, but I guarantee your intuition will take over when you least want it to. My shifter is up and down, up is reverse, which is opposite of the previous boat I had. In my first week, I had it in neutral gliding up to the dock, and pushed the shifter down to give it some reverse thrust, and well...you can fill in the blanks...it was a steel dock too.

It's not the shifting between forward reverse that will get you, it's when it's gliding oh so nicely in neutral and you make your final adjustment and all goes backwards to plan, lol.
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