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Old 06-03-2011, 14:44   #1
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Reversing Out of Berth ?

Hi chaps,
I am new to this forum and suspect this question may have been asked before. I so, sorry, just ignore it and I will try searching again.

My boat has always been kept on a swinging mooring, until this winter. We now have a berth in a local marina, I think it is known as 'end on', where the bows point to the pontoon and there are little pontoons leading off of the main one, with space for two boats in between. In other words, short pontoon, boat, boat, short pontoon etc.

Well, getting in proved to be easy under engine, but getting out? As we begin to go backwards, the stern is pushed to port by the prop walk and yesterday we came very close to hitting the rudder of our next door boat.

How do others manage to reverse without the stern pulling over? There must be a knack to it but we have not found it yet. Any solutions most welcome.

Thanks
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Old 06-03-2011, 14:51   #2
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pirate Re: Reversing out of berth?

There's a couple of options here... the simplest is use the backspring to pull yourself out then flick the eye of the cleat as you draw level...
Alternatively use the engine in short bursts to keep momentum while compensating with the rudder.
Personally I prefer going in stern first... prop walk can be used to your advantage for this... and departure is a doddle
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Old 06-03-2011, 14:53   #3
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Re: Reversing out of berth?

There are one or two tricks to backing out of a slip and you do have to take prop walk (and wind and current) into consideration.

1st, before you select reverse, have a little bit of starboard helm on ... it won't help initially but as soon as you get some steerage way in reverse it'll start to help you by pulling the stern to starboard.

2nd, pull the stern of the boat over to starboard a little with the aft startboard dockline before you reverse out. That'll give you more room before the prop walk takes you to port.

There are other things you can do, like pull the boat out backward using the aft docklines until you're mostly out of the berth before selecting reverse, but I find that a combination of 1 and 2 generally do the trick.

If in doubt, hang out plenty of fenders until you gain some confidence.
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Old 06-03-2011, 14:58   #4
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Re: Reversing out of berth?

Gota love prop walk.

It depends on winds, currents and tide. If we can’t easy out slowly using short bursts of low revs then we use a spring line slipped on the furthest aft dock cleat.
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Old 06-03-2011, 14:59   #5
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Re: Reversing out of berth?

next time you go out pick an empty patch of water and practice backing up. two good exercises are doing figure 8's (do it in both directions, it isnt the same due to prop walk), and backing up to a stationary object like a buoy. It will help give you a feel for how your boat handles in reverse (most sailboats handle somewhat randomly in reverse so dont think it is just you). Also, you need to pay attention to whether there is current and/or significant winds when you pull out of your slip.
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Old 06-03-2011, 15:00   #6
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Re: Reversing out of berth?

Another trick is to reduce engine RPM as soon as the boat has some sternway. This "unloads" the prop and reduces prop walk (which is caused by the flow accelerated by the propeller).

Of course, it is more difficult with the wind or the current on the stern.

Alain
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Old 06-03-2011, 15:11   #7
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Re: Reversing out of berth?

Assuming you have at least 2 peeps on board, keep a line on the outboard starboard post and have some walk forward with that line as you back out, keeping tension on it to prevent the stern sliding to port.
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Old 06-03-2011, 15:28   #8
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Re: Reversing out of berth?

The easiest way is to undo the docklines, & walk the boat back, climbing on before you reach the end of the slip. After that you'll have a little way on, & you can engage idle reverse without much/any prop walk.

If you do this, you should keep a dockline in hand- that way, if the boat gets too far out to step aboard, it can't "escape". Also, if you got much wind on the beam, the bow might be blown into the other boat or the dock. For that, you'll need another hand to keep her in line. If you have crew do this, they should step aboard at the shrouds.
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Old 06-03-2011, 15:32   #9
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I take it from your description of almost hitting your slip-mate that his boat is to your port as you back out. In such a situation, you can't push the stern over to starboard, because the finger (little dock) is in the way.

If there is room between your boats, you could, however, let the bow point a bit to port: not enough to risk hitting the other boat on the way out, but enough to redirect your line of travel more parallel to the finger (and so away from your slipmate's rudder).

Prop-walk is going to happen, though, so a second technique I use as a matter of course is:
  1. Reverse under full power only until you gain steerage.
  2. Return the speed control lever to the stop (idle) and shift into neutral, eliminating prop-walk effect.
  3. Correct angle of your boat using wheel/tiller. Use the backward momentum of your boat to clear the slip.
  4. Apply a second burst of reverse thrust as needed to maintain steerage, but then shift back into neutral.

This technique limits the total time your boat will be affected by prop-walk: instead of 5 seconds, maybe only two seconds total out of the five. That means less pull toward your neighbor's hull.

It's a natural tendency to see your boat heading toward your neighbor and wanting to use power and steering to pull your stern away, but it's powering your boat in reverse that is causing the sideways pull in the first place. Use neutral and momentum instead.

On calm days, you will be surprised how small a burst of reverse power will give you steerage and carry your boat clear of the slip. When you have to deal with contrary wind, the total time under power may have to increase to give yourself a bit of extra momentum to overcome windage, but you should try to keep it to a minimum (three very short bursts instead of two short ones are especially useful in this case).

These two techniques used together will get you out without a acute rise in blood pressure.

Fair Winds,
Jeff
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Old 06-03-2011, 15:41   #10
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Re: Reversing out of berth?

Just a thought, let’s say he’s in one of those user unfriendly pontoons where the side pontoon only extends 3 or 4 meters. Wouldn’t that prevent someone from walking the line and then getting back on when trouble has past?

Just thinken
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Old 06-03-2011, 15:41   #11
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Re: Reversing out of berth?

I have the same situation/problem. The trick is too push it out slowly if you can, don't try to drive it out. If I'm about to hit the boat on the port side I run over there and push off. If I'm about too hit the dock on the starboard side, I run over there and push off that. Eventually I'm out and haven't caused too much damage. Actually if it's not too windy it's pretty easy to push it strait back. A few well positioned lines help too.
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Old 06-03-2011, 15:43   #12
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Re: Reversing out of berth?

I'm of the school that likes to use docklines and/or walking to get the boat out of the slip if possible, having had several boats that were very unpredictable in reverse. I see that some newcomers are reluctant to use dock lines when in tight spaces, thinking that it is somehow unseamanlike, but it is really the opposite. Using lines to help maneuver is perfectly acceptable, and it is what the professionals often do.
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Old 06-03-2011, 15:46   #13
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pirate Re: Reversing out of berth?

If I remember correctly Alex71 is a 'disability sailor' so its likely he has crew when he sails....
I still feel he should reverse in when returning to his slip in future... it allows more control of steerage as he has 'way on' for the manouvere and gives better overall control
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Old 06-03-2011, 15:53   #14
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Re: Reversing out of berth?

Alex21,

If she is pulling to port, I normally back out of the slip with the wheel hard over to Starboard and as she starts moving I slowly bring the wheel to center or direction of turn. Hard over in the opposite direction for a short distance cancels out the prop walk.


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Old 06-03-2011, 16:24   #15
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Re: Reversing out of berth?

Apologies for not doing more research on the vessel that the OP has. I guess being in frozen Michigan right now has slowed the brain neurons. After looking at his web site it appears we are talking about a 21’ or 7 meter boat. When some posters suggested that he just walk it or fend it or push it I thought they were crazy. The boats I have dealt with for the last 10 yrs. have been in the 12 to 20 ton ranges and that is just not an option. Please ignore my previous posts.

Mea culpa Boatman’s got it right
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