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Old 19-12-2017, 17:43   #31
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Baltimore, MD / Harrisburg, PA
Boat: Alberg 35
Posts: 293
Re: Boat only reverses to starboard - why and is this normal on some boats?

Originally Posted by Ryan H View Post
Did you try getting up enough reverse for steerage and bumping it to neutral? If its prop walk it should stop trying to spin the boat when the prop stops spinning.

Try giving it a good kick in reverse for a second or two till you get a bit of steerage then see if she'll track a straight line coasting in reverse.

Once you figure out how much prop walk you have to deal with before you get enough steering astern to coast in neutral, I'd get some sea room and practice using the prop walk to back and fill until you can control her well enough to use that to get into your slip.

With my Formosa 41, My slip is sandwiched between a powerboat and the main dock with a 15' space between (my beams a little over 12') I line my bow up with the boat just next to my slip, hit reverse to bring her to a stop a little less than a boats length away, which starts to swings the stern around and to starboard a bit and begins the reverse turn into the slip.

As long as I dont have to worry about current or windage to any serious degree its a fairly slow stress free matter of back and fill, giving her a little extra stern prop to help swing the back end around and into the slip. Once the turn is about 80% complete and the stern of the boat is mostly in the slip I give it a few seconds of decent astern prop which usually straightens her out in the slip and gives me enough steerage in neutral to slide her the rest of the way in. A touch of forward brings her to a stop, I drop a mid line to keep her from wandering and I'm home.
Yep. I feel his pain. I have an Alberg 35; my previous boat was a Tanzer 22 which went where I pointed it and turned on a dime. The A35 is ponderous and she has an amazing port prop walk. At first I thought it was me and my lack of skill but I learned from's just how they are.

In the last few years, I've actually learned to use the prop walk. I point into the slip and use a shot of reverse to move the stern to port. I do the squirt of reverse then neutral to back out along with a spring line. That lets me get slowly out, the line tightens and a little goose of reverse with the prop walk spins her 90 deg.

In time, you learn to use it; I'm almost to the point where I can back and fill and spin the boat in her own length. Tell your friend to practice and learn to love it.
Jim Eaton
s/v Pendragon Alberg 35 #175
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Old 20-12-2017, 12:56   #32
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Location: Australia
Boat: Swanson
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Re: Boat only reverses to starboard - why and is this normal on some boats?

Prop walk, is quite annoying , especially modern flat bottom boats with narrow keel.
With more reverse speed is negligible , but smart rope handling is important .
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Old 20-12-2017, 19:42   #33

Join Date: Jun 2015
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Re: Boat only reverses to starboard - why and is this normal on some boats?

Quote: "As I read this you may have omitted the most important detail. Which way do you have to turn to put boat in final docking position? If your last turn must be to starboard, you have a relatively easy time of it. If last turn to port it gets tricky."

You are quite right - I have omitted that :-)! Not through inadvertence, but because I see that as blindingly obvious. Mea culpa :-)!

I wrote that I come in forwards with my pontoon to stbd, then do a stbd pirouette. the upshot of that is that ALL my turning in the really, really tight "fairway" is to stbd. which of course is what I want cos of my R/H prop.

I COULD go the distance of the fairway in reverse having gathered a 2 knot sternway in the open harbour basin and using rudder to steer along the fairway. But that wouldn't be as easy, let alone as safe, as using the pirouette.

IF I had a L/H prop, I'd still come in forwards. TP is a fin keel, skegless spade rudder kinda boat. My SaintedMother always told me to stay away from skegless spades, but I guess you play the hand you are dealt :-) You learn to live with any boat's deficiencies. Boats like TP are unpredictable when making sternway, so headway it is, except for the very few moments when sternway is absolutely required, essentially in situ, in order to position 'er.

So I would come in forwards with my pontoon to stbd. But because I'd be looking forward to lying portside to because I'd want to be lying with my bows pointing out to the harbour in order to exit the fairway going ahead, at my slip I have to do a pirouette to port. As my midships pivot point came opposite the boat lying next along the pontoon out towards the harbour, I come hard aport, and goose 'er in reverse thereby coming dead in the water with my cutwater just kissing the log breakwater to my port. I'd be about 75º breakwater to centreline at that point. Done right the prop walk would override the gathering sternway and drive my stern to stbd as she backs away from the breakwater. With my cutwater 6 or 8 feet from the breakwater and now with C/L at right angles to the breakwater, I'd lay the helm hard aport, and goose 'er in forward gear. The prop wash on the rudder would drive her stern further to stbd before she'd gather headway, and as soon as the way came on her I'd lay the helm hard astarboard and let her back slowly till she lay dead exactly parallel to the boat that is in towards the shore from me. I'd then, with delicate use of the helm, inch her forward and let her turn ever so gently to stbd till my pivot point would be opposite the head of the boat that lies out towards the harbour from me, stopping with my C/L at 30º to the pontoon, stern in. Then I'd lay the helm midships and with just a soupcon of power let her creep into her slip. Then, as my transom corner came to the pontoon, I'd nonchalantly step ashore and belay the lines that would be in my hand.

Necessary compensations for wind and tide would, of course, be made. While this routine would work in TP, it might not in other boats. Only way to get to know is to try it. Out in open water. With a floating log or whatever as a reference point.

Why go through all that rigamarole? Because anyone can get OUT of a tight slip by using spring lines. Getting IN without making loud profane and expensive noises is MUCH more difficult. But that's a discussion for another day :-).

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