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Old 25-10-2011, 11:58   #16
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Re: Backing in

We have to back our 32' (39' LOA) schooner into our slip because we have a very short figure pier and can only get to it from aft (the bowsprit is too long to let us get close enough if we go bow in). Like you we have a good amount of windage.

As suggested above you may want to take your boat out on a calm day, away from anything to hit, and practice backing to see what your boat does. It's probably going to want to pivot around the fin keel. Which way does your prop "walk" the stern, when you are in reverse? You'll want to take all of these things along with windage into account in figuring out your strategy for backing down into the slip, and come up with a strategy that uses your prop walk and windage to advantage, rather than fighting it.

Here's how we do it: the prevailing wind is a crosswind from port to starboard when backing down into the slip. Our prop walks pretty significantly to starboard. So, when we come into the harbor I get lined up perpendicular to the slips, with the slips off my starboard side, and rather close to the outboard pilings (this puts the wind more or less on my stern). At this point I'm usually coasting in neutral, giving bursts of forward gear as need to keep steerageway. About one slip away, I execute a turn to port. I can sharpen this turn as needed by (a) more bursts of power in forward, and (b) bursts of power in reverse (which pulls my stern to starboard). The objective is to get lined up with the slip and not too far out, so when lined up I can give her a burst of reverse to get steerage, then go back to neutral to cancel out the prop walk and drift back into the slip.

As suggested above, I have lines running from each outboard piling, back to the seawall, so I can reach out and grab a line to pull the boat back into the slip (my boat displaces almost 13,000 pounds and I have no trouble pulling her back by myself, and I'm no body builder).

Lately, what I've done is get the boat about midway back into the slip and then cleat down both bow lines. I have them measured out so that at full extension they still hold me off the seawall. I then put the boat in low reverse; it backs down until the bow lines are taut and then just sits there while I get the stern lines and springs on.

It took awhile to get this routine down and for awhile I put on quite a show for the restaurant at the marina every time we docked. Now we have it down pretty consistently.

The trick is getting your prop walk to work for you. Given the set-up you describe, if your prop walks your stern to port, you may want to try a similar techique: come in perpendicular to the slips, execute a sharp starboard turn using forward/reverse bursts to pivot your boat around to line up, then give it a burst in reverse to give moving and then coast far enough back into the slip to get on a piling or line to "warp" (i.e., manhandle) yourself in.

If your prop walks to starboard, then you may want to come in on the far side of the fairway and go past your slip, execute a sharp turn to port, use the forward/reverse routine to pivot the boat around to line up, and then back down into the slip. With some practice, once you know which way your prop walks the stern, you'll be able to spin the boat around more or less in it's own length.

I don't use a lot of rudder movement in the foward/reverse pivot move. I have the rudder set to the way I want the bow to turn when I'm in forward gear. I don't move the rudder when going into power reverse - my prop walk is sufficient to overcome it. One moving in reverse with transmission in neutral, I can use the rudder for directional control. I find it helpful to be in front of the wheel facing backwards, so the wheel movements are just like I want the stern to move - turn the wheel left (actually to starboard) and the stern will move to the left (actually, starboard, but backwards).

As to windage, if generally the wind is blowing parallel to your slip and from the shore, you can use that to help in whichever way you pivot - my experience is that the wind tends to catch the bow and push the bow off to leeward. I have to compensate for that with my technique by pointing slightly upwind when I come thru my turn so that I'm not exactly lined up with the slip but actually pointing a bit to windward of it. My prop walk to starboard helps to offset the wind pushing the bow off to starboard.

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Old 25-10-2011, 12:06   #17
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That is good to be able to sail in to slip more in off change engine dies friend of ours has had to do twice he got problem fixed I have done it on smaller boats need to do it with my CS40 nose in only

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Old 25-10-2011, 13:45   #18
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Re: Backing in

The Admiral has all sorts of arthritis problems resulting in both total replacement of both knees and shoulders. Result is she is now a little tentative getting on the boat, especially when it is bouncing around in the slip. One thing that seems to settle our boat down is just before she tries to board, I drop a line over a dock piling and crank the boat over toward the dock with a winch. I don't need to remove/adjust any of the dock lines before winching and it frees me up to help her aboard. This had made a big difference for her since she knows the boat won't pull away from the dock as she is boarding. Hope this helps.
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Old 25-10-2011, 14:15   #19
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Re: Backing in

I always back into my slip because boarding is easier though the open transom. It does a take a while to get steerage, but I have found one knot to be plenty. Yes you can go into the dock faster that that and stop yourself with forward thrust. There's lots of stopping power when you throttle forward. really have to watch your rudder position, as the prop wash will fling your arse around pretty quick if the rudder is hard over.
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Old 25-10-2011, 17:32   #20
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Re: Backing in

Have you considered walking up to a neighbour who has an 'easy' berth and explaining the situation to them? Sometimes people are willing to swap berths. I would give it a try.

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Old 25-10-2011, 18:10   #21
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Re: Backing in

I agree with barnakiel - Or try speaking to the Marina manager, explaining the situation and possibly they could facilitate a swap. Regardless it sounds as though you will have to practice your reversing!

I had a 35' ketch for awhile that took some real practice to nail the reversing, but once I had it down pat I was comfortable reversing in most conditions, it was just a matter of getting a feel of the boat!
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Old 25-10-2011, 18:17   #22
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Re: Backing in

The secret to backing up is to gun the engine for a few seconds so that you've got enough water running past the rudder to create steerage. Slow the engine down the moment the boat starts moving.
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Old 25-10-2011, 18:45   #23
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Re: Backing in

Also I tie the boat loosely at all 4 corners and use spring lines on both sides.
Put out a couple of extra fenders and tie your boat snug to the dock so your wife can get on or off without the boat floating around. Once she's off adjust to center it in the slip.

I hope I was misreading your opening post but it sounds like you're walking the plank to board.
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Old 25-10-2011, 18:55   #24
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Re: Backing in

most sailboat lifeline gates are not midships. they are closer to the stern so i understand your need to back in. You will need to hone your maneuvering skills anyway, so learning to jockey forward and reverse properly will help if the wind i s not blowing much. you will need some thrust though, it helps you spin the boat.
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Old 25-10-2011, 19:06   #25
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Re: Backing in

My wife also has MS with similar conditions, I ALWAYS call for help with lines from the marina when coming in. It's never been a problem.
But keep practicing and be patient it will get lots easier, just go slow and ignore the audience watching. sailing will be wonderful for you and your wife. The sailing life really helps with the MS.
Would a new gate in the life lines make it easier?
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Old 25-10-2011, 19:53   #26
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Re: Backing in

Going "too" slow can be a hindrance rather than a help. As long as you know how quickly forward thrust can stop the boat (and in what distance), a little more speed in reverse may assist. A fin keeled boat like the Ranger should be able to turn quite easily with enough speed.

I would get out of the marina and spend an hour or so playing around in reverse and get to know how she performs and at what speeds she performs best. If other boats can do it, you can to. Just a bit of practice will set you straight.

There are many youtube vids on parking boats in all sorts of situations. Also get to know more about using spring lines. IMHO they are more important that fore and aft lines when docking.

I agree with Hummingway. Enter the fairway in reverse, its much much easier
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Old 25-10-2011, 19:56   #27
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Assuming your reverse prop kicks the stern to port, drive in till your port missions lies against the furthest pile of your berth, pass a line around to hold you static while the prop kicks your stern into the berth, then release and reverse in. Having guide lines running from piles to dock may be useful for final maneuver. Pile and prop walk will do it.
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Old 26-10-2011, 03:33   #28
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Re: Backing in

Welcome to the forum Tom.
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Old 26-10-2011, 03:55   #29
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Re: Backing in

Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Have you considered walking up to a neighbour who has an 'easy' berth and explaining the situation to them? Sometimes people are willing to swap berths. I would give it a try.

good advice, some boats just don't steer well in reverse. Those that have never owned one don't get it.
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Old 26-10-2011, 04:28   #30
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Re: backing in

Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
Ranch, how is it easier for your wife to move between dock and boat if you are berthed "backwards"? All sailboats I've mounted/dismounted have been from midship, including my powerboat. In my area of the marina, there is only one sailboat berthed with stern in (against the prevailing wind!).
We always dock stern-to if at all possible. Our sailboat has SS tube liferail all around except at stern steps. If docked side-to then we must climb over the railing because there is no gate opening. It is far easier to step on & off at the stern steps. When too far off the dock, we use a passarelle.

Our prop is located at the rear of the keel, which is a long distance from the rudder. We must power down hard in reverse to get a burst of water flowing over the rudder in order to maintain proper steerage in reverse. Something that is hard to get accustomed to when backing up to a dock. We also have a folding prop and that also requires a strong hard reverse to activate the blades into correct position for reversing. Possibly the OP has a similar arrangement on his boat.


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