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Old 14-04-2021, 12:49   #1
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Tips for docking dual rudder boats

I have been sailing a single rudder sailboat and have experience with single prop trawlers or other twin MYs but this will be my first go around docking a twin rudder sailboat into a floating single slip. There are a couple videos online about docking these but curious if the group here has any tips or videos to follow. Seems like reversing in may have more movement than going now first but would like to be able to do both.
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Old 14-04-2021, 13:23   #2
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

When we bought our boat in 2018 it was the first boat I sailed with twin rudders and sail drive. Different handling. Rather than learn by trial and error, I hired an instructor to walk me through handling the boat under motor in a marina, to a mooring ball, etc.

A nice feature with the large rudder surface is that she has way on at just over a knot.

I enter my slip bow first. Halt the boat with the stern at the end of the finger pier, grab the stern line and tie it on. If the wind is pushing the boat onto the pier, all is good. Otherwise, I give her ahead idle to snug up to the pier.

I now prefer this arrangement compared to worrying which way prop walk will turn the boat.
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Old 14-04-2021, 13:24   #3
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

Wait! They let you use both of the rudders at the same time? Who knew...
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Old 14-04-2021, 18:12   #4
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

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Originally Posted by Dr. D View Post
When we bought our boat in 2018 it was the first boat I sailed with twin rudders and sail drive. Different handling. Rather than learn by trial and error, I hired an instructor to walk me through handling the boat under motor in a marina, to a mooring ball, etc.

A nice feature with the large rudder surface is that she has way on at just over a knot.

I enter my slip bow first. Halt the boat with the stern at the end of the finger pier, grab the stern line and tie it on. If the wind is pushing the boat onto the pier, all is good. Otherwise, I give her ahead idle to snug up to the pier.

I now prefer this arrangement compared to worrying which way prop walk will turn the boat.
Thanks. I was planning on hiring someone mainly to help teach me how to sail her faster but may include that as well then.
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Old 15-04-2021, 10:11   #5
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

Kenny,

Nice boat.

I have chartered a Jeanneau 349 and 389 and when I chartered them the bow thruster didn't work.

+1 on the 1 knot of speed.

I assume you already have a slip for your boat and I would suggest just trying it out with a friend to help either on the boat or dock on a calm day.

On the 389 I think I saw some prop walk because it was helpful in getting the boat into an odd angled slip. I wasn't driving, my son was. And the charter rep was standing by and totally impressed that this 20 year old was docking the boat perfectly.
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Old 15-04-2021, 10:35   #6
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

Twin rudder boats behave significantly differently from single-rudder boats when maneuvering under engine, it is going to take some practice to get used to it.
The main reason for the difference is that the rudders are not inline behind the prop, so revving the engine when the boat is stopped does not establish flow on the rudders until the boat starts moving.
The effect is a "lag" between revving the engine and feeling the effect of the wash on the rudders. This lag can be disconcerting at times (truly nothing happens to the steering for a few seconds as you rev the engine).
In practice, this means you should not stop during the approach because without motion you'll loose steering control and it will take more time to gain it back than in a single-rudder boat. Thus, you need to approach a little more "lively" than on a single-rudder boat, get fully aligned while in motion, enter the slip, and only at the last moment hard reverse to stop the boat.
The other big difference is reversing on a straight line over a considerable distance. Since you have two rudders and the total surface is about double than in a single rudder boat, if you want to go straight back, you'll have to go slower than a single rudder boat to control the steering.
With time, you get used to the "lag" and grow the confidence. What never changes, though, are the "observers" on the dock who do not have twin rudders and do not realize there is a difference. They will tell you to slow down on the approach and stop before entering the slip. Try not to listen to them (it is not always easy); if you do, you'll loose steerage and miss.
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Old 15-04-2021, 11:32   #7
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

We have had a twin rudder boat for 15 seasons now. I find it very easy to use, the adjustments from a single rudder are not much different than the idiosyncrasies of any individual boat. I don't agree with those who find it less maneuverable without considerable way on. At my dock, which is alongside rather than a finger pier, I always pull in bow first at an angle with the dock to port, secure the bow llne and then give it a little throttle and the stern predictably moves to port and snugs up to the dock. I also back it from time to time and find it pretty easily controllable as long as I keep a firm hand on the wheel.
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Old 15-04-2021, 11:35   #8
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

FabioC: I must disagree with you on having the boat moving more "lively" than a single rudder boat. As I noted (and mholtzberg agreed), with double rudders the boat has steerage at a bit over one knot. I do agree with you that with the rudders not aligned with the prop you do not get immediate steerage, but the boat doesn't have to be moving quickly to gain steerage. Also, going in reverse the steering is sensitive. It just takes getting used to it.
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Old 15-04-2021, 11:59   #9
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

On the current boat I sail with a single rudder. I usually approach my slip at 1.5 -1.9 knots and, with the throttle in neutral, begin my turn into the slip. Getting the keel lined up through the turn usually burns a knot of speed off of it and if I am aligned I will just bump ahead into the slip. If I have steerage at 1 knot, it seems that this approach will still work. Where my slip will be, the bow will typically be into the wind when trying to enter the slip. I do not have a folding prop so that should help my reverse. I usually find it that I get better tracking with a bit more speed so am usually a fan on doing that on windier days.

Is getting off of an end dock with the wind on your beam blowing you onto the dock much different? That’s typically the type of docking I do at the pump outs we have here. Currently, I put a couple extra fenders on the bow of the boat and will idle forward to pivot on the bow which kicks the stern out with a spring line on a cleat on the fuel dock. Once the stern kicks out enough, I will do heavy reverse and have the wife flick off (or, if she misses, just drop) the spring line so I can get off the dock.
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Old 15-04-2021, 12:40   #10
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

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Is getting off of an end dock with the wind on your beam blowing you onto the dock much different? Thatís typically the type of docking I do at the pump outs we have here. Currently, I put a couple extra fenders on the bow of the boat and will idle forward to pivot on the bow which kicks the stern out with a spring line on a cleat on the fuel dock. Once the stern kicks out enough, I will do heavy reverse and have the wife flick off (or, if she misses, just drop) the spring line so I can get off the dock.
Your current procedure should work. Since I am usually solo when going to the pump out, or fuel dock, I will put a fender at the stern, hold onto a spring line and go into reverse to have the bow move out from the dock. Then I switch into forward and motor away. If the wind is too strong, I will go up to midship and fend off with a boathook; I have time to get back to the helm before the wind pushes the boat back against the dock.
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Old 15-04-2021, 13:17   #11
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

A bit off topic but what about turning in a circle to get oriented correctly or to get out of a bad situation? On a single screw single rudder boat, one alternatively uses reverse prop walk and prop wash on rudder to spin boat in its place, clockwise for boats with port reverse prop walk. I assume it is a different ball game with two rudders and one prop?
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Old 15-04-2021, 13:36   #12
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

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Originally Posted by EmeraldCoastSailor View Post
A bit off topic but what about turning in a circle to get oriented correctly or to get out of a bad situation? On a single screw single rudder boat, one alternatively uses reverse prop walk and prop wash on rudder to spin boat in its place, clockwise for boats with port reverse prop walk. I assume it is a different ball game with two rudders and one prop?
Different, but OK.

Going forward, throw the wheel over to the direction you want to spin and give forward throttle. It will take a couple of seconds for rudders to dig in. Once they do the stern starts moving off nicely. And once far enough into the spin (canít recall how far) the prop wash will strike the inner rudder adding to the rotation.

In reverse, one needs to be a little easier. As noted above, the rudders have a lot of surface area so the force can become strong. Once the rotation starts the boat swings about nicely.

Last Thursday I went out sailing. At lunch time I anchored. Then the wind died. Mirror like surface calm. So after lunch I messed around doing donuts and such.
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Old 15-04-2021, 14:01   #13
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

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FabioC: I must disagree with you on having the boat moving more "lively" than a single rudder boat. As I noted (and mholtzberg agreed), with double rudders the boat has steerage at a bit over one knot. I do agree with you that with the rudders not aligned with the prop you do not get immediate steerage, but the boat doesn't have to be moving quickly to gain steerage. Also, going in reverse the steering is sensitive. It just takes getting used to it.
My point is that with twin rudders, if you stop the boat, the rudders stall longer than on a single-rudder boat because there is no prop wash on the rudders, so the flow is only established by the motion of the boat.
Because of that, it is rather not "advisable" to stop the boat at any point during the approach (for example, the "check pause" once aligned and just before entering the slip that many people do with single rudder boats, is not a good idea with twin rudders). Since it takes longer to regain control if the boat stops, it is highly desirable to maintain motion at all times, that is what I meant by a "more lively" approach.
The other effect of the lack of prop wash on the rudders is that you cannot rely on the prop to increase the flow on the rudders. At low speeds, for example, sometimes you want the rudder to "bite" more (say, to turn the bow into the wind in high wind). With a single rudder, you can give a burst of throttle and the rudder "bites" immediately without the boat needing to accelerate; with twin rudders, you need a much longer burst because the boat has to accelerate for the rudders to increase their efficiency.
All this certainly does not mean that the boat is less maneuverable at low speed than a single-rudder boat, it just means that it is something to get used to.
The lag in reaction may catch you by surprise the first time you operate a twin rudder boat, just something to know of and be prepared for.
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Old 15-04-2021, 14:10   #14
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

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Originally Posted by EmeraldCoastSailor View Post
A bit off topic but what about turning in a circle to get oriented correctly or to get out of a bad situation? On a single screw single rudder boat, one alternatively uses reverse prop walk and prop wash on rudder to spin boat in its place, clockwise for boats with port reverse prop walk. I assume it is a different ball game with two rudders and one prop?
I do not notice a major difference with twin rudders over single rudder in doing a "180-degree turn in place". I think the reason is that prop walk is the dominant effect during this maneuver. In fact, you can turn in place "going with the prop" without touching the helm at all, which means that prop wash is not an important factor.
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Old 15-04-2021, 21:23   #15
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Re: Tips for docking dual rudder boats

I have found what FabioC stated to be mostly correct on my Beneteau 38.1. Allow the boat to become motionless at your own peril! The rudders on the 38.1 are well outboard, and thus have almost zero benefit of prop wash. However, because I have a saildrive, there is no propwalk to speak of. The twin rudders are effective... as long as there is water moving over them. Allow the boat to stop, and you are definitely at the mercy of whatever wind and current are factors. You must plan your moves with attention to those forces. The last thing you want is to become adrift in a fairway, because it takes valuable time and some space to get moving fast enough to get adequate flow over the rudders. I do not have a bow thruster. Overall, the boat is responsive. You just have to understand how to properly helm this particular boat without traditional assistance from prop wash and prop walk. I am sure other boats of similar layout and equipment will be similar.
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