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Old 05-27-2019, 08:58 AM   #1
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MS 34 Trawler broaching

I'm a year in with my new-to-me 2006 single screw MS 34T. My wife and I love the boat except for its handling in a following sea.

If we have to run in anything higher then 2' seas, my auto-pilot can't handle it and its a very arduous and concentrated time at the helm keeping the boat straight. It often requires lock-to-lock steering which is a lot of effort (not to mention stress on the rudder and rudder stock).

A few weeks back we had to cross Tampa Bay and were running with the waves during a small craft advisory and winds 30+ kts and 4+ foot swells. Often as I rounded a wave top, the boat would start broaching (even with pro-active counter steering), once it got a little off square with the wave, the wind would catch the boat. Now I was fighting two forces; the natural boat tendency to broach after a wave passes under, and the wind that once it catches, pushes the boat in the same direction as the broach as the wind has more force on the aft end (more wind force on the aft end of the boat). As my boat would start broaching to port, I would have to go hard over to starboard. Even with the hard over, I would still get the wave on my beam and it would take seconds for the boat to answer to the helm and straighten out. This was obviously creating a very rolly ride, and at one point my wife slid off the salon's couch to the floor.

The above was the worst its been, but its always a challenge running before the wind. I can't steer anything close to a straight track and must look by others to be a little 'under the influence'.

I've tried running at different rpm's and while some speeds are better than others, nothing stops the boat from wanting to wander.

Do any of you out there use your trim tabs to assist steering? (i.e., starboard tab down to help stop a port broach). I have tried this, and again, the boat is still a bear to steer.

Looking for input here, as the boat's tendency to so easily broach is a safety concern and at this point would be my #1 reason for wanting a different brand of boat, maybe with a longer and/or deeper keel, and larger rudder.
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Old 05-27-2019, 09:29 AM   #2
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I owned that same boat and experienced the same problems. The relatively wide beam makes it worse than other boats.

I never experienced the kind of problems you did in Tampa Bay. If I hand steered I could control it in 4-5' seas from the stern but I did give the rudder a workout. These were relatively long period waves off of Catalina Island that I was dealing with which reduced the effort relative to your Tampa Bay situation.

For the longer period waves I faced, I pretty well solved the problem by adding the gyro add on black box to the Raymarine autopilot. It damped the S turns down to 5-10 degrees from a previous 15-25 degrees on autopilot.

Not sure any modern trawler design is really going to solve it for you. The canoe stern of the Willard 40 should however.

I recall the late Bill Crealock telling me why he designed most of his sailboats- the Pacific Seacraft line for example, with canoe sterns. To paraphrase him, he said that in some conditions the stern needs to act like a bow.

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Old 05-27-2019, 09:37 AM   #3
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Raymarine Gyro

David, thanks for the heads-up on the auto-pilot gyro; I will check it out. I hate it when my auto-pilot looses its mind. ;-)
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Old 05-27-2019, 09:37 AM   #4
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I have a 34HT so dont have the windage to deal with. I dont think I have experienced quite the conditions you had recently and don't deal with following seas often. I have dealt w about 3 fters and while not comfortable or fun could live with it.
I don't think tabs are the answer. My understanding is that MS installed stops limiting tab travel because some owners got in trouble w tabs in following seas.
I think it's a function of hull design (wide sq stern) and small rudder... not easy to change w/o a significant project but am standing by to hear other inputs.
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Old 05-27-2019, 09:45 AM   #5
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There is a positively huge difference in the autopilots from 3 generations ago without solid state gyros, and those that have them - particularly in following seas. Don't know what you have, but something like the latest Raymarine EVO pilot will do everything the rudder is capable of, and do it better than a human - at least after 5 minutes of fatigue.

If it's still not working, then a larger rudder, or an articulated rudder might be in order.
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Old 05-27-2019, 09:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post

Not sure any modern trawler design is really going to solve it for you. The canoe stern of the Willard 40 should however.

I recall the late Bill Crealock telling me why he designed most of his sailboats- the Pacific Seacraft line for example, with canoe sterns. To paraphrase him, he said that in some conditions the stern needs to act like a bow.

David
A few decades ago, when shopping for a cruising sailboat, my #1 criterion was that it be a double-ender to avoid problems with following seas. I ended up with a Fantasia 35, which turned out to be a fantastic choice, sailing high into the wind & with no trouble handling in rough weather. The workshop was a real plus, but the overall design was a dream. That boat's many features are definitely influencing my next purchase, even though it will be a trawler & not a double-ender this time. If anyone is curious about the design, a sister-ship is featured in Katy Burke's classic "The Live-Aboard Book."
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Old 05-27-2019, 10:20 AM   #7
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30+ knots following sea and you are complaining? If your wife ended up on the floor its your fault not the boat’s. Practice this in front of a mirror: “No.” “Not today.” “Too rough. ” “Maybe tomorrow.”

Or buy another boat that matches your boating prowess. Like a canoe stern or a cutter. Check out some videos of boats crossing the bars in Oregon and buy the one that does the best job?
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Old 05-27-2019, 10:25 AM   #8
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Greetings,
Mr. X. "Maybe tomorrow".


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Old 05-27-2019, 10:33 AM   #9
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Wasn't really looking for guidance of when to take my boat out, I was rather looking for people's suggestings for easier control if/when caught in that circumstance. I'm still waiting for the weather crystal ball I ordered, as the conditions on Tampa Bay that day were not forecast. ;-)
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Old 05-27-2019, 10:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daviddraper View Post
I'm a year in with my new-to-me 2006 single screw MS 34T. My wife and I love the boat except for its handling in a following sea.

If we have to run in anything higher then 2' seas, my auto-pilot can't handle it and its a very arduous and concentrated time at the helm keeping the boat straight. It often requires lock-to-lock steering which is a lot of effort (not to mention stress on the rudder and rudder stock).

A few weeks back we had to cross Tampa Bay and were running with the waves during a small craft advisory and winds 30+ kts and 4+ foot swells. Often as I rounded a wave top, the boat would start broaching (even with pro-active counter steering), once it got a little off square with the wave, the wind would catch the boat. Now I was fighting two forces; the natural boat tendency to broach after a wave passes under, and the wind that once it catches, pushes the boat in the same direction as the broach as the wind has more force on the aft end (more wind force on the aft end of the boat). As my boat would start broaching to port, I would have to go hard over to starboard. Even with the hard over, I would still get the wave on my beam and it would take seconds for the boat to answer to the helm and straighten out. This was obviously creating a very rolly ride, and at one point my wife slid off the salon's couch to the floor.

The above was the worst its been, but its always a challenge running before the wind. I can't steer anything close to a straight track and must look by others to be a little 'under the influence'.

I've tried running at different rpm's and while some speeds are better than others, nothing stops the boat from wanting to wander.

Do any of you out there use your trim tabs to assist steering? (i.e., starboard tab down to help stop a port broach). I have tried this, and again, the boat is still a bear to steer.

Looking for input here, as the boat's tendency to so easily broach is a safety concern and at this point would be my #1 reason for wanting a different brand of boat, maybe with a longer and/or deeper keel, and larger rudder.

David,


Most boats our size will get knocked around a LOT with 30kts and 4 ft seas. And, yes the Mainship isnt the best in following seas... but a lot of boats arent a lot better.



What you can do:
1. Wait for better weather.
2. Increase the power to get enough speed to catch the wave better. Requires some experimenting but occasionally works. I know you can cruise around 15 knots. Have to be careful with 4 ft waves. There may be an occasional 6 footer out there. And, yes, you'll get water over the flybridge occasionally.

3. Take the waves at a slightly different angle. I find that ~45d works reasonably.
4. Operate from the lower station (which I assume you are).



FWIW, my autopilot will handle that and suspect once you found the right speed and angle, yours will to. It will still wander. And in those conditions as much as 40 to 50 degrees each side. I just let it do it's thing and it will slowly correct. Not fun, but gets the job done.


PS, just saw you heading home yesterday. I'll be out in a few hours just wandering around. Probably head up toward the narrows, but want to avoid all the holiday idiots that are just as bad at boat handling as I am.......
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Old 05-27-2019, 01:25 PM   #11
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What was your speed relative to the waves? Any chance of slowing down or speeding up to ride on the backside/trough of a wave?

Where we live (long, narrow, deep channels) we slow down for the trough if going straight downwind/down channel, or speed up to ride the trough diagonally downwind across a channel.
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:39 PM   #12
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What is the rudder like. Have you got a picture of it? A rudder with 20% of its area forward of its rudder shaft gives you a more efficient rudder, bigger rudder yet lower steering loads compared to a less”balanced” rudder.
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:51 PM   #13
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Suggest you try using a sea anchor/ parachute with 75-100 ft of line ( bigger the following sea, the longer the line.
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Old 05-27-2019, 03:16 PM   #14
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1. What you describe is the number one complaint I hear with trawler and trawler type boats.

2. Tune your autopilot for those conditions. If you don't know every capability it has then study the manual and learn. If it doesn't have more capabilities, then consider upgrading. A good, well tuned autopilot can do better than you can manually over a decent period of time.

3. Speed. I don't know what speed you were going or what your capabilities are, but what you were describing can often be improved upon with more speed, while the tendency of many is to slow down.
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Old 05-27-2019, 03:33 PM   #15
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My Downeaster doesn’t care for quartering seas. I do two things. Try different speeds and just let the boat go off course and it usually corrects itself. You might be trying to fight every push. Sometimes you just take the course change and wait to get back on. Usually a few seconds.
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Old 05-27-2019, 03:46 PM   #16
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A bigger rudder will help. If it's a slow speed boat, 2-3x bigger and shouldn't have much effect on speed. Commercial fishing boats have very big rudders for this problem in 20'+ seas.
Also faster rudder response. A bigger hydraulic pump on power hydraulic steering. I use a joy stick to control my pump & rudders when manually steering and that gives quicker response. My old Wagner autopilot allows me to change the rudder response for ocean conditions.
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Old 05-27-2019, 05:05 PM   #17
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I have an older Mainship 34. Not the same boat, I know, but here's what I've learned based on my experimentation, and I think it's applicable to you.

1) speed. More throttle improves rudder response. I try to match the speed of the waves. Things are easy when you can maximize time on the back of a wave. It's only when you're being overtaken that things get squirrelly.

2) use the autopilot. If it's not up to the job get it fixed. My ST6000 works very well in all conditions I've encountered. The PO had a gyro added by sending the unit back to Raymarine. He said that helped a lot.

If your drive is sized appropriately and working it's pretty easy to replace the electronics, and the currrent stuff is pretty impressive and not much $$.
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Old 05-27-2019, 06:34 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zboater View Post
Suggest you try using a sea anchor/ parachute with 75-100 ft of line ( bigger the following sea, the longer the line.



Educate us on the sea anchor. Never used one, but would like to know it's capability and use.


Would you have a float so that other boaters wouldn't run over it?
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Old 05-27-2019, 07:17 PM   #19
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try "tacking" down wind with following wind/seas. Just as in a sailboat, it will take you longer and the distance traveled will be greater, but the ride will be a LOT more comfortable.
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Old 05-27-2019, 07:41 PM   #20
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An MS-34 (and most trawler style boats to some extent) just aren't designed for handling following seas of any significance. They are designed to offer a great interior layout which most people love. All boats designs are compromises, and many designs compromise boat handling in rough seas for a comfortable interior layout. They sell better. Wives love them, until they fall off the couch.

I agree with David - Trade her in on a Willard 40. One of the best reasonably priced trawler style boats designed to be comfortable in rough seas.

When I was boat shopping, handling is rough seas was my #1 priority. The Southern Ocean seas are far less forgiving than most boating areas. 4 foot seas are a better than average day. 10 feet plus for the next few days in the protected gulf; far bigger seas in the open water.

My old basic 30 year old Autohelm A/P holds steady in pretty much any conditions under 10 foot seas, due to the canoe stern, full length keel and big rudder.
But I still fall off the couch sometimes in a beam sea.
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