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Old 03-03-2024, 18:26   #1
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Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

Hi

I know there are a couple of post already about this and I have read them, but they do not answer my questions specifically.

I have a full-keeler, a 27 ft Top Hat, very nice boat, great stability, sails beautifully, even in light winds. So overall I am very happy with the boat but I have to say it is quite a challenge getting in and out of the marina when I am on my own, especially backing out when there are strong cross winds.

I am going to install a hydrovane and I am wondering if this might solve all my problems, seeing it has its own auxilliary rudder which, unlike the rudder attached to the full keel, is free standing. If I simply tie off the existing rudder and use the manual hydrovane tiller steering to back out, would that give me full control? After all, this would be very similar to a fin keel boat with a free-standing rudder.

Another option is a long-shaft outboard engine as a backup to the main engine (I know, many of you would disagree installing something like this, I am expecting some comments!) but would that be another way to gain more control over a full keeler? As long as the outboard has enough power (I am thinking of 8 HP) this might work because you can turn the outboard in any direction so the prop itself would pull the boat where you want to go.

Secondly, in posts about this topic on this forum there is a lot of talk about spring lines. I am experimenting with this as well, using a block a the bow and leading the line back to another block on a cleat at the dock itself midships, so that when I am backing out, I can readjust and pull the bow close to dock on the way out. But the stern of the boat which is by then completely away from the dock still swings out, so control is limited.

A detailed explanation on how to, as a single-hander, use spring lines to control backing out with a full keeler (mine has the dock on the starboard side) would be greatly appreciated. Any other hints or techniques would also be most welcome of course.

Thanks
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Old 03-03-2024, 19:55   #2
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

There are some nice, very light low HP electric OB's out now-- you could consider something like that as moveable bow/stern thruster. You could deploy it in multiple spots and it might make life easier.
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Old 03-03-2024, 20:12   #3
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

The idea of a spring line is to control the stern and steer it where you want it to go.



Buy a 50-foot length of ply floating line, the yellow stuff. Tie it off to the stern cleat on the side you want the stern to turn to. Then wrap it around the piling at the end of the slip.


Keep a loose hand on the line to control the stern. As you back up, pull on the line so that the stern swings the way you want.



At some point, you will be moving quickly enough that you don't need the line. Pull it in at that point. The floating line will not tangle in the prop.


It's a good idea to run permanent lines between the rear pilings and either the front pilings or the dock, depending on your setup.



To use a spring line when you are returning, you need midship cleats. Keep a line or lines permanently attached to the rear pilings in the slip. Flip them over your permanent lines for easy access when you return.


When you enter the slip, attach the line or lines to the midship cleats. If they are set up properly, you will stop short of the dock and float harmlessly until you get the rest of the lines attached.
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Old 03-03-2024, 20:59   #4
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

Hi Hugo, I am guessing you are finding the boat decides to reverse herself one way or the other because of propwalk from the engine, is that right? Even aside from propwalk, full or long keel boats can have a mind of their own in reverse, especially if a breeze is blowing. I think the Hydrovane could certainly help, especially when you get momentum in reverse but you are in neutral. Since you are planning on getting the Hydrovane anyway, I'd say try that first.
I have a boat similar to yours in size and I have a long keel too. Something you might consider is oars, or even just one sweep oar on the stern for those times you are reversing and the stern isn't going the way you want. A sweep can yank the stern around pretty easily. I have a pair of oars for mine and I think you have a low enough freeboard to make them work if you think of going that route. With mine I can easily get in and out of a slip, or pen, if needed when it is calm. I have 11' aluminum shaft oars made for whitewater rafts with removeable blades that stow well in my boat, but I concede that may not be the case in other boats. Just another option; works well for me. Here's a shot:
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ture33968.html
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...lbums4660.html
https://www.nrs.com/nrs-advantage-oar-shaft/pyhc
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Old 04-03-2024, 03:09   #5
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

There's a whole chapter in Rick Page's second book "Stay Real, Stay Gone" dedicated to handling longer keel boats in close quarters. Available on Amazon or for Kindle
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Old 04-03-2024, 03:29   #6
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

A Hydrovane rudder will do nothing but add confusion when backing out, and how will you steer it and the other rudder and control the engine at the same time?
I think you're better off practising backing out fast--the boat should steer in reverse as soon as you have enough water flowing over the rudder to steer past the propwalk.

Depending on how much room you have, you can get yourself off the dock with a springline led aft to spring your stern out, but if you're in a narrow slip that's clearly not feasible.

Consider backing into the slip, if propwalk/skill/etc allow for it. That way you can gun it out in forward.

Last of all, and articulating outboard works well--I have one on my full-keel boat, but not well enough to use just to get in and out. There's brackets and tanks and gasoline and all that to deal with. I'd hate to have two engines to maintain...
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Old 04-03-2024, 04:38   #7
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

The hydrovane will not help you backing up, at least for me it didn't and I had one on my boat for years. In fact, it adds a very vulnerable appendage you have to watch out for. I know it may be impossible, but the best answer is to turn your boat around as soon as possible in order to proceed out bow first. Sometimes the wind and current can be your friend in helping to turn the boat, though of course it can also make things more difficult. But, I find that most boats, regardless of how well they back up, are easier to control when headed forward.
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Old 04-03-2024, 05:50   #8
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

You can get add-on bow/stern thrusters.

https://www.dockstarthrusters.com/
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Old 04-03-2024, 06:02   #9
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

I have a big full keel sailboat and can sympathise with you! They definitely want to go where they want to go. Have you tried bursts of throttle in reverse, then shift to neutral, to get the rudder to bite. Full keelers don't have that large separated rudder to steer with. you need to learn which way the boat will turn with power. If I have to do a 360, with my boat, its always a turn to port to initiate. I can back and fill to spin my boat on a dime ( back and fill is wheel hard over to port- and leave it there, full power burst in forward to start the turn, then full power burst in reverse, then repeat the fwd/reverse cycle to make the boat spin.
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Old 04-03-2024, 06:09   #10
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

For boats that have tons of prop walk in reverse, technique matters. Some seem to walk badly until you take it out of gear, then there's hope of steering. Others need enough speed to steer in reverse, but will steer while in gear.

If you have a prop that doesn't produce a ton of thrust at low speeds (such as many 2 blade props), too much throttle from a stop in reverse can end up walking the stern sideways a significant amount before the boat is moving enough to have any hope of steering. On boats with that tendency, I've found it often works to put it in reverse at idle and wait a second for the boat to start moving. As it starts to move, add a little bit of steering and a little bit of throttle, then a little more throttle. Once you're moving fast enough to get some steering, reduce throttle a bit so you don't keep accelerating. The goal with that technique is to avoid excessive prop slippage with the goal of getting more useful reverse thrust for a given amount of prop walk.
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Old 04-03-2024, 07:50   #11
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

Hugo:

As a couple of "old hands" have cautioned above: Don't be deluded into thinking that more mechanical complexities will save your bacon :-)!

The ONLY thing that will make your life easier in the long run - and more particularly in the short run - is to learn to do it right.

"Doing it right" is a matter of technique and of the discipline to employ the correct (for the boat) technique every time you employ it.

A two'n'an'arf ton boat of utterly conventional design should be a piece-a-cake to back out of any pen that I have ever seen, but to give you sound guidance we need to know 1) what engine you have, 2) your propeller's diameter and pitch and "handedness", 3) whether you have a "clean rig" or whether you have a roller furling headsail, 4) whether your boat still has the original tiller steering or whether she has (Heaven forfend!) been converted to wheel steering.

We also need to know what PRECISELY you mean by "pen". Do you mean the space between two finger pontoons projecting from a bigger pontoon or from a quay?

I take it that the Top Hat of which you speak is this one:

https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/top-hat-25/

Give us the info I said we need to know, and we can probably get you off towards an enduring, non-mechanical solution to your problem.

À la prochaine

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Old 04-03-2024, 08:57   #12
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

Just want to follow this discussion as I have a similar problem.

Luckily we very seldom need to go into a slip.

I can generally do it if there is no wind.
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Old 04-03-2024, 09:45   #13
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

1. If you learn how to back and fill,you can steer about any boat in reverse.
Learn to control your boat in reverse by learning to back & fill your boat out in the open water away from distractions.


2. Learn & use a midship line if you are singlehanding.
Heck,learn & use midship line anyway-so much easier and safer for you and crew.


3. Practice using aggressive amounts of engine power and rudder for maneuvering.


4.Your rudder has little effect in reverse until you build up 2+ kts.



Cheers/Len


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Old 04-03-2024, 09:55   #14
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deblen View Post
1. If you learn how to back and fill,you can steer about any boat in reverse.
Learn to control your boat in reverse by learning to back & fill your boat out in the open water away from distractions.


2. Learn & use a midship line if you are singlehanding.
Heck,learn & use midship line anyway-so much easier and safer for you and crew.


3. Practice using aggressive amounts of engine power and rudder for maneuvering.


Cheers/Len
Add to this the ability to throw her into neutral and glide so the rudder can act once you get her moving. My experience is that the best way to get 'purchase' with the rudder is to be moving and have it amidships before really trying to steer in reverse. If the rudder is hard over it gets no flow and just slows you down instead of turning you. This is most easily seen in back and fill where the rudder has action only in the phase where in forward gear.
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Old 04-03-2024, 10:18   #15
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Re: Getting in and out of my pen with a full keel sailboat.




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