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Old 07-22-2010, 10:59 AM   #1
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Time to lean how to operate this boat

Some of you folks probably recognize my avatar and know I'm a frequent visitor to Trawler forum. However I've actually never operated my motor boat.*
Just over a year ago I joined Trawler forum when my wife and I decided to sell our sailboat and move over to the dark side. For the six months or so it took to sell our sailboat I got lots of information and advice from you folks and our search for a boat started in earnest when we finally sold it in December.


We purchased our '98 Carver 35' ACMY in May after some very interesting mechanical issues were finally resolved. Since then I have spent most weekends on the boat upgrading and personalizing it to my specs. Just a few of the upgrades included adding a multi-stage filtration system for all 3 engines, flushing the raw water system of the genset, cleaning the engine after-coolers, adding a raw water overtemp alarm system, replacing a tie rod end on the port rudder, tighten the rudder shaft logs which incidentally required removing a cabinet in the aft cabin, relocating the fuel transfer switch and adding LED's to indicated pump operation, adding a digital voltmeter, adding fresh water flush for all 3 engines, and a bunch of other stuff I won't bore you with. Anyway we've filled up the aft holding tank and the fwd one is almost half full so time is running out on getting this thing going.


Since I have only operated the boat under the direction of my broker when we repositioned it from the PO's house to it's present location, about 45 minutes run time, I'm a little anxious about taking her out. But I've decided that in my present location which is perfect to learn close in*maneuvering, long dock with just a few boats along a 150 ft wide canal, I will give it a try. I did dock the boat here when we brought her over so I know I can do it. I fly twin engine aircraft for a living, so I understand the concept of assymetrical thrust.**A calm early morning day with no wind to practice will be what I'm looking for. Once I'm comfortable maneuvering along the dock we'll take her out and and try docking in a slip, preferably with no boats along side. A lot of practice and I know I'll get comfortable with it.


But what I can't really practice is operating the boat in heavy weather. I plan on doing most of our cruising in and around the intercoastal with occasional jaunts out in the gulf and someday the keys and Bahamas. My experience with sailboats could do me harm here as I routinely sailed in 4 to 6 ft seas and gave it little thought.
My Carver has a semi-displacement hull whose bow starts to rise at about 8 kts and will be fully on a plane by about 14 to 15 kts. This rather flat bottomed boat will probably not do well in seas that my sailboat could easily handle. So what do you guys do when you get caught or must go out in heaver weather? Sure you always try to avoid it, but inevitably if you use you're boat you're going to get caught out in some nasty weather with building seas. So please pass along some tips!!
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:11 PM   #2
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Time to lean how to operate this boat

Brings to mind the old addage that you boat can take a lot more than you can.

With a 15 knt boat you could always try and out run the heavy stuff.

If you do get caught Slow down abandon your course and steer for comfort.
It may take longer to get there but a least you will be safe.

take the waves off the quarter in a head sea.**If you can. Stay out of the trough.*
that is the wave coming from the side it could roll you over.
In a following sea I try and match the speed to the waves so they roll under you.
to slow and you get pooped.**To fast and you fall off the crest. and worst you can pitch pole. That is sort of driving the bow into the wave ahead of you.

Don't worry to much about it the biggest issue will be docking.**After all for every 20 hours spent running the boat 10 minuts will be spent docking. How do you get practice with that. If you go out 10 weekends a year like twice a month that's docking*twice a**month, and every single time there will be something different going on. wind, current, waves, wakes,*rain, ect.
So get out there. Get some water moving under the hull. Read the Chapmans,
Enjoy.-
SD***

-- Edited by skipperdude on Thursday 22nd of July 2010 12:39:00 PM

-- Edited by skipperdude on Thursday 22nd of July 2010 12:41:54 PM
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:23 PM   #3
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Time to lean how to operate this boat

Tim, first off I am willing to bet a good amount that your Carver has a planing hull and not a semi planing one. I am typing on my phone here so I am gonna be brief. My one tip is that if you do get in the weather, choose a course that is easiest on the boat and crew. This may mean that you are not pointing at your destinations but you can still make VMG towards it. Obviously, if the situation is dire, you may have to sacrifice your destination for the most favorable course.

We woke up once to an unforecasted gale warning and were planning on going home across Galveston Bay. It was blowing every bit of 40 knots sustained with gusts well into the 50s. I am a pilot as well and my thinking was that we would go take a look(like pilots do) and if we didn't like it, we would turn around and wait another day. Well we were taking the weather directly on the nose but thought we could take it so pressed on a bit. We then realized we didn't like it and turned around. Guess what? The chop was so big and short and steep we could not exercise our exit strategy. We broached 3 times and the people we were traveling with were sure we had gone over...we didn't but we could not continue on that course even for the 5 miles that it would the to get back to where we began. So we had to continue to our destination 20 miles away in absolutely horrid weather. In this case, continuing into the weather to the destination was the safer course of action. So much for brevity....ha-ha. BTW, this was in a Prairie 29 at displacement speeds.

-- Edited by Baker on Thursday 22nd of July 2010 12:30:54 PM
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:43 PM   #4
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RE: Time to lean how to operate this boat

Looks like SD and I posted at the same time with the same advice.
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Old 07-22-2010, 01:09 PM   #5
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Time to lean how to operate this boat

Quote:
timjet wrote:I fly twin engine aircraft for a living, so I understand the concept of assymetrical thrust.



Your twin engine aircraft experience won't be of great value in operating a twin engine boat.* In a boat, asymetrical thrust in the sense that you think of it in a plane is not something you really use since you have the rudders to provide a turning force far greater than speeding up or retarding an engine.* You're correct, the principle is the same and adding power on one side and retarding it (or not adding it) on the other side will swing the stern to the side with the most power. But it will be pretty slow swing.* So rather than using asymetrical thrust to generate yaw you simply use the rudders and leave the power where it is.

And remember, anything you do with the props and rudders moves the STERN of the boat, not the bow.* Same as in your sailboat, although in your sailboat you probably had a fair size keel so putting in rudder probably*resulted in a bit more* of a pivot than a swing.* But in the typical semi-planing or planing powerboat there's not much keel down there.* So the stern will slide sideways a lot when you put in rudder.

So as your entering a marina fairway, for example, and need to turn into a slip, don't get right over against the boats on the other side of the fairway because when you put in rudder to turn, what's really going to happen is your stern is going to slide over, not the bow.* If you haven't left enough room between you and the boats next to you, you'll swing your stern right into them.* The only way to make the bow move one way or the other without moving the stern is with a bow thruster.* I find it easiest to think of maneuvering a trawer-type boat (without a thruster) as being the same as driving a car around in reverse.

Now what you do have that your plane doesn't is a really effective reverse.* I know many planes have reverse thrust but you don't use it the same way as in a boat.* Where the twin really shines is in opposing the prop thrust.* By putting one transmission in forward and the other in reverse you can walk the stern pretty smartly to one side or the other.* And if you want to pivot the boat even faster, put the rudder hard over in the direction you want the boat to pivot.* The propwash from the prop in forward will push against the rudder and pivot the boat around that much faster.

I had never operated a twin engine boat before we bought our GB although I'd operated a number of singles of various types and sizes.* When I mentioned this at the start of our pre-purchase sea trial the selling broker asked me if I'd ever run a bulldozer.* I said yes.* He said to think of the boat the same way.* If you want to go forward, but both transmissions (caterpillar tracks) in forward.* If you want to back up, put both transmissions in reverse.* If you want to pivot left, put the right transmission in forward and the left one in reverse.* If you want to pivot right, left transmission in forward, right in reverse.

Now, twelve years later, even though I make these thrust changes almost automatically the mental image that sometimes comes to mind is that bulldozer.* My wife, on the other hand, has a different "crutch" to help her visualize what to do with the shifters.* In her mind, pivoting the boat left is the same as swiveling her hips counterclockwise.* The left side goes back, the right side goes forward.

As you get the feel for the boat and its response you'll start seeing you you can modify the "rules" to make the boat do exactly---- well, almost exactly--- what you want it to do.* For example when entering our slip, which is almost always a crosswind, cross-current situation there are times when I want to move the stern to one side but not as much as the one-forward-the-other-reverse will.* So I'll use the "wrong" engine in forward, the one on the inside of the turn* This keeps me moving forward but having the "wrong" engine in forward (with the other one in neutral) actually makes the boat slide a bit sideways which is what I want to have happen in this case.

Don't bother trying to figure out how what I just told you works--- at this point it will just be confusing.* But it's the sort of thing that you begin to figure out as you get better and better at maneuvering your boat.

The last piece of advice on maneuvering I can offer is follow the advice in the two commercial lobster boat names below.* Unlike a car or a plane, things actually happen relatively slowly with a boat.* So don't get yanking the shifters back and forth in a frantic attempt to correct something that probably wouldn't have happened if you hadn't started yanking the shifters back and forth.* For one thing, it's VERY hard on your transmissions.* Always pause in neutral a couple of seconds at least to let the shafts and transmissions come to a stop before engaging the other gear.* If you want an interesting experience open the engine room hatch so you can see the prop shafts.* Then put one in forward at idle speed and then pull it into neutral and remember how long it takes to stop.* That's how long you need to pause in neutral when going from forward to reverse or the other way.

And if you really want an eye opener, get the boat up to cruise speed, pull the power to idle, pull the transmissions into* neutral, and watch how long it takes for the shafts to stop rotating.* Depending on your transmissions and how tight your cutless bearings are the shafts will likely keep turning until the boat is almost stopped.* That's the way it is on our boat, anyway, with our Borg Warner transmissions.* So what it tells me is that if I pull the transmissions into neutral at cruising speed, don't go putting them into reverse until the boat's almost stopped unless I want to put a hell of a shock on the driveline.

Have you ever flown a Cessna 310?* The ones with the wingtip tanks.* When I was learning to fly one I had a hell of a time with overcorrecting to keep the wings level during final approach (at Honolulu International where a 20 knot wind was a no-wind day to us).* A wing would dip, I'd pick it up, use too much aileron, and the inertia of those big tip tanks would roll the plane right on through where I wanted it to be and the other wing would drop, I'd use too much aileron to pick IT up,* the inertial would roll me back the other way, and all the while the runway was getting closer.* It took a fair amout of time in the plane to learn to stop chasing the roll and making things worse and learn just how much aileron to use, and more importantly, to learn the timing for putting it in and taking it out.* It's the same deal in your boat.* And as Skipperdude said, the only way to get the feel is to operate the boat.

If you're worried about hitting things, have someone on deck with a big-ass fender on a line that they can drop down between you and whatever you're going to crunch into.* This, by the way, is a great way to get off a dock when you're between two boats and the wind is blowing you hard onto the dock.* But we'll save that for another time.....

*

I can't say much about heavy weather boating because we haven't done any what I would consider heavy weather boating here.* What I will say is that the best thing is to ease into it.* Skipperdude said that a boat will take more than the owner (usually) and that is correct.* But knowing that won't make you any more confident when you see the bay whipped into whitcaps and big waves.* What we did was set limits (same rule as in flying--- know your limitations and don't exceed them).* When we started this kind of boating, Bellingham Bay in 15 knots of wind looked pretty spooky.* So that was our limit.* The couple of times we got caught out in 15 knot winds convinced us that this was a pretty good limit for us at the time.

After year or so of this and of getting caught a few times in 15 to 20 knot winds and waves, particularly when the wind was opposing the current which, with the current strengths around here can make some pretty nasty conditions, we decided that it wasn't all that bad.* It wasn't pleasant but after awhile I thought it was kind of neat to be heading into or quartering waves that our fairly straight-sided bow kicked high into the air and the wind smashed back into the boat* I could pretend to be a destroyer or PT boat skipper and the salt water pouring down our decks was good for the teak.* And our boat has good wipers.

So we upped our limit to 20 knots, which is about where it is today.* There are plenty of bodies of water around here where we would not want to be out on them at 20 knots, like the Strait of Georgia, but at least we know it's doable.* And we know we could handle 25 or 30 if we had to although we don't deliberately go out in these conditions.* And, just like in a plane, when the weather gets nasty, forget about being on time or getting somewhere on a schedule.* Operate the boat safely even if it means ending up somewhere other than where you wanted to go, or it takes you twice as long to get to where you wanted to go.

And, just like in flying, there is no shame in deciding it's too nasty to go.* Thinking that you're losing face in front of experienced boaters and so going anyway is dumb, in my book.* My wife and I have turned around or not gone in the floatplane plenty of times when we were not confident in our abilities to deal with the weather conditions.* This was far preferable to ending up smeared across a rock face somewhere.* You don't want to be so timid as to never gain the experience necessary to deal with what the water can throw at you, but you don't want to be stupid about it, either.* If you don't want to go, don't go.

And above all--- when maneuvering into your slip, an unfamiliar marina or anchorage, or slogging your way through less than ideal water conditions--- follow the advice so kindly provided by the commercial lobster fishermen of Prince Edward Island


-- Edited by Marin on Thursday 22nd of July 2010 10:19:52 PM
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Old 07-22-2010, 07:16 PM   #6
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RE: Time to lean how to operate this boat

Practice... Practice.. Practice....

Just like when you first started flying go out and do 5 touch and go's, then do a few full stops.* Just pick a day, preferably early when you will have a few hours with no wind at all.. and more importantly no one watching to up the anxiety factor. Taking someone along who can hold a mobile fender in case you get a little close to something solid also lowers the anxeity and the damage issues.* The most important thing is to go slow..dead slow.. take your time... dont react fast or too aggressive. Really think about the dock you are coming in to and see the process in your mind before you actually get too far ahead of yourself. You can also go out and practice on a unsuspecting buoy and pretend it is a dock, approach from down current or down wind so you can rely on the elements to help you stop. Also try to back the boat up to the same buoy using the square corners of the stern of your boat as a better point of reference. The added bonus is the boat will stop much faster going into forward when backing vs foreward then reverse. The other key is to also remember is we ALL had to start at some point... dont be afraid to try!
And always have fun at it... it's why we all are here!
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Old 07-22-2010, 08:15 PM   #7
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Time to lean how to operate this boat

Quote:
hollywood8118 wrote:

Really think about the dock you are coming in to and see the process in your mind before you actually get too far ahead of yourself.
This brings up a point that I learned in practically my first lesson when I got my seaplane rating, so it's second nature to me now but I'm always surprised by how many people overlook it in boating.

And that is, it's often far more important to figure before you get up to the dock*how you're going to get away from it later*than it is to figure out how you're going to get up to it now.

The fuel dock in our marina is about 100 yards from our slip and its orientation is such that no matter which way the wind is blowing, it's a crosswind of some degree to the dock.* While not quite as entertaining*as a boat launch can be,*on a windy day watching the boats go to and from the fuel dock can provide some real "what was THAT guy thinking" moments.

We see more boaters come in,*see the wind direction and then apparently think they're being really clever by docking on the upwind side of the dock.* Makes sense, right?* The wind will blow you onto the*dock making the whole process a snap.* So they tie up, fuel up, and then realize that they now have to get off the thing.* This is when the*show gets really*entertaining if the wind is strong.

I would say at least*half*of the powerboaters who*get into this situation are totally flummoxed when it comes time to leave.* They turn their rudders, they rev their engines, they scrape along the length of the dock,*they yell a lot, they get the fuel people to push,*all in a mostly*futile attempt to get off.* The only ones who*succeed with no effort are the ones with powerful enough bow thrusters to shove and hold the bow*out against the wind although we have heard the occasional loud crunch as a swimstep*pivots in*against the side of the dock.

Interestingly enough,*the sailboaters all seem to have an instinctive enough*understanding of wind to not get themselves in this situation.* If the wind's at all strong, they will hold out in the turning basin until they can get on*the downwind side of the dock.

So we always think about*leaving the dock before we commit to going into one. Lots of times getting off is no harder than getting on or it's easier.* But if the wind or current kicks up, or if boats are*parked*in such*a way that leaving could be tricky, *sometimes the better choice*is to choose the "more challenging" means of getting on the dock because where you end up will make it a hell of a lot easier to get off.* We can always back away if a docking is not setting up correctly, or turn away, go out in the basin and come in for another try, something I'm not too proud to do.* But once you're at the dock you have to live with what the situation has set up for you.

The reason, by the way, that this is so very important in seaplanes is that seaplanes--- except most turbine-powered seaplanes--- have no reverse.* Also, their water rudders are very weak.* So they are very* much at the mercy of the wind.*** Unless the docking is your last one of the day, it's almost always way more important to figure out how you're going to get off than how you're going to get on.


-- Edited by Marin on Thursday 22nd of July 2010 08:18:47 PM
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Old 07-24-2010, 07:09 AM   #8
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RE: Time to lean how to operate this boat

Thanks guys for all your input. I just got back from a 4 day trip, so want to respond to some of your comments.

Skittperdude, Youve got some good heavy weather pointers. I know keeping the waves off the quarter is most desirable. I also know from reading this forum over the past year that running in a following sea can be done safely if you can match the speed of the waves. My concern is, what is the limit and that of course will come only from experience. I just want to avoid getting into situations that are too much for me to handle, so like Marin said, set a limit and stick with it. And thanks for reminding me about Chapmans, I just got out my 20 year old copy, I forgot I had it.

John, I checked and you are correct, my boat has a planning hull. I have done exactly what you mentioned, go out and take a look and see if we can handle it, but on a sailboat. I remember a couple of years ago heading out into Tampa Bay while a front was transiting the area to find the waves were a good 6 ft on the southern end where it shallows considerably. As we were heading out the channel the bow was going up and down 45 degrees as we were heading into the waves. I never felt uncomfortable or out of control, but would not have liked turning around. So we were committed for the next 2 hours and as the water depth increased the waves subsided a bit. Funny thing, I noticed we were the only boat in Tampa Bay for as far as I could see. Perhaps that should have been a warning. Anyway under these conditions, I never felt uncomfortable, but was pretty knowledgeable of my limits on that boat.
John, you mentioned turning around in a head long sea. This is what really scares me. Once you realize your in over your head, turning around without that big heavy keel and the likely hood of broaching just scares the heck out of me. My Carver has a lot of free board and no keel, so whats to keep her from laying over on her side???

Hollywood, Im getting my son to commit to going to the boat and spending the weekend practicing. He wont get moody or start crying if I yell at him like the admiral. Just kidding, well sorta. That brings up a whole different issue that perhaps we can discuss later.

Marin, funny you should mention the thinking process of figuring out how to leave prior to docking. I did exactly that every time I approached the fuel dock in my sailboat. I guess I never really gave it a second thought it just came naturally.
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Old 07-24-2010, 08:29 PM   #9
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RE: Time to lean how to operate this boat

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timjet wrote:


John, you mentioned turning around in a head long sea. This is what really scares me. Once you realize your in over your head, turning around without that big heavy keel and the likely hood of broaching just scares the heck out of me. My Carver has a lot of free board and no keel, so whats to keep her from laying over on her side???



*
Nothing dynamically. *But generally, the CG of your boat is likely low enought to give it righting stability close to 90 degrees....that is a total WAG on my part. *Maybe if it went over far enough to poop the sidedecks the submersion of the sidedecks may keep her from coming back up or at least delay it dangerously.

*
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