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Old 11-17-2015, 12:37 AM   #1
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single engine maneuvering questions

I had my boat out for the first time this weekend, we took it up to stay on for the weekend. I've never handled a trawler yacht before. I figured with a single and no thruster it would handle like a sailboat. So not even close.

It suffers from radical understeer. If I turn the wheel in neutral, even with some speed, I don't turn. That made for an exciting first docking. Eventually I figured out that it handles just like a jetski. I've lots of practice in close quarters ski operation for surf rescue. Once I made the connection it got way easier to handle.

It also has radical prop walk in reverse. Enough that backing up is nigh on impossible. This from a guy who normally operates a 40' tiller steered cruising sailboat. But in the trawler, it's like the rudder just doesn't exist in reverse.

Is this normal or is my rudder too small? It seemed pretty tiny when we hauled, but the surveyor indicated it was fine. Is this why so many trawlers have thrusters? I'm having a hard time believing that a big engined powerboat is less maneuverable than a full keeled sailboat. Does that seem right?
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Old 11-17-2015, 02:15 AM   #2
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You have a clue when you say it's like a jet ski. It will walk to one side while backing up, just pull it out of reverse, slip it into forward and give it a bit of thrust forward with the rudder pointed away from where you want the stern, that will move the stern sideways where you want it to be, put it back in reverse and keep going. All the time while backing up.

Remember, you are always steering the stern, the bow may go where you want it if you get it right and plan ahead but it's the stern you are moving. Think like driving a jet ski forklift!
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Old 11-17-2015, 06:58 AM   #3
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Practice makes perfect. Get out in open water and just practice.

One standard technique for close maneuvering is come to a full stop, full turn the direction you want the bow, then shots of Forward thrust. That's how you position for backing, not while backing because as you mentioned, it doesn't, but stop, shot or two of Forward to get the bow pointed, then reverse.

In just a little time you'll look like a pro, practice and it becomes second nature.

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Old 11-17-2015, 08:33 AM   #4
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Practice makes perfect. Get out in open water and just practice.

One standard technique for close maneuvering is come to a full stop, full turn the direction you want the bow, then shots of Forward thrust. That's how you position for backing, not while backing because as you mentioned, it doesn't, but stop, shot or two of Forward to get the bow pointed, then reverse.

In just a little time you'll look like a pro, practice and it becomes second nature.
Exactly.
And what helped me initially was being on another single screw boat during docking. Stand in the cockpit so you can feel what the boat is doing.
Then you'll know what to do.
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Old 11-17-2015, 09:43 AM   #5
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You may wish to practice "rudder catch" in reverse. As you have noted the prop will walk the stern even with the wheel hard over. When this occurs try going to neutral as the boat continues to move aft. There is usually a point where the rudder will engage with the boat movement and will turn the boat in the direction of the rudder. Perhaps this is confusing and another can explain it better.

Yes, the primary way to get the stern pointed in the desired direction is use the forward method described in a prior post. Many years ago we would turn the bow of our wooden boats into the dock in forward and push against the dock in order to swing the stern out. Today in my glass boat in tight situations I have a helper hold a fender between the boat and dock and just slightly nudge the dock to swing the stern out.
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Old 11-17-2015, 09:49 AM   #6
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Good tips offered above. With respect to the size of the rudder:


Most semi-displacement speed trawlers have small rudders because at high speed a big rudder adds drag and at speed you don't need it any bigger. A slower full displacement trawler might have a larger rudder, but not always. The small rudder does make it tough at low speeds. Some have installed articulated rudders and that makes a tremendous difference in low speed handling.


Sailboats need a big rudder to handle steering at low speeds so they almost always handle better at low speed than trawlers.


David


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Old 11-17-2015, 10:48 AM   #7
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She will back up straight without prop walk .... Straighten the rudder, give her a generous hit of throttle for a second or two then back to neutral. The thrust will overcome the walk.

The prop walk can be very useful. If you want the stern to walk, put it in reverse at idle and wait ....In this case the walk over powers the thrust.
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Old 11-17-2015, 02:25 PM   #8
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It's like spinning a pumpkin, but the pumpkin will only spin in one direction. That's how I describe it when people ask. The lower the HP the slower the pumpkin spins, more HP you have the more effective the prop and rudder are. I have only 50 HP so my pumpkin spins slow.

This comparison would be for docking purposes, not underway with forward speed.
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Old 11-17-2015, 03:00 PM   #9
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Practice makes perfect. Get out in open water and just practice.
Wifey B: People will think you're flipping absolutely crazy but it really is the best way to practice risk free. Even set up markers of some sort if you want, but mostly just learn what the boat does when you do what you do. Practice all those things the others are saying but just at imaginary docks in open water. Let the wind hit from all sides too. Become one with your boat...
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Old 11-17-2015, 03:34 PM   #10
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I'm in the same situation as the OP. Lots of experience with sailboats and small outboards but not with displacement inboard power boats. I'm looking forward to mastering close quarters maneuvering when I launch my new-to-me single engine Mainship 34 next spring. I have watched lots of commercial operators over the years that could make their boats do anything they wanted, so am not fussed about not having thrusters.

Question: do you guys rely on a rudder indicator? On sailboats I always knew my rudder angle as the wheel was marked and was typically < 2 turns lock to lock. Now I have a power boat with hydraulic steering and (I think) 5 or 6 turns lock to lock. Have been thinking about this, and have a rudder indicator on my AP display. Just wondering whether it's useful or necessary. It's during the stages where the boat is backing down or stopped that I would think it would be useful. Comments?
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Old 11-17-2015, 04:14 PM   #11
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Rudder display is helpful but not essential. Like turn indicators on a car. But it does save a lot of wheel spinning to find out where you left the rudder. Forward, don't need it. Reverse, much more useful.

Actually, I'll amend that by saying it's very useful when you are learning. Also, constantly think of inertia. The boat will generally keep going in the direction you send it, so sometimes you only need to modify the trajectory, not stop it.

Good advice to practice, fuel docks that aren't busy are good, they are covered with fenders and there are dock-apes to help you. A tip might be nice, or, buy some fuel.
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Old 11-17-2015, 04:40 PM   #12
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But in the trawler, it's like the rudder just doesn't exist in reverse.

Is this normal or is my rudder too small?

You can often gain some steerage control in reverse as speed builds.

Then it depends on whether your situation and intention, at any given time, is suitable for speed in reverse.

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Old 11-17-2015, 04:54 PM   #13
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I'm in the same situation as the OP. Lots of experience with sailboats and small outboards but not with displacement inboard power boats. I'm looking forward to mastering close quarters maneuvering when I launch my new-to-me single engine Mainship 34 next spring. I have watched lots of commercial operators over the years that could make their boats do anything they wanted, so am not fussed about not having thrusters.

Question: do you guys rely on a rudder indicator? On sailboats I always knew my rudder angle as the wheel was marked and was typically < 2 turns lock to lock. Now I have a power boat with hydraulic steering and (I think) 5 or 6 turns lock to lock. Have been thinking about this, and have a rudder indicator on my AP display. Just wondering whether it's useful or necessary. It's during the stages where the boat is backing down or stopped that I would think it would be useful. Comments?

As everyone has said above, practice, practice and practice.

Also, don't be like me and wait two years to figure out that turning to the left into the wind works like a charm, turning right, doesn't.

Lastly, I always look at the rudder indicator. Sometimes, even both of them, but certainly one. Otherwise, backing and filling (as described above) can be harder than it needs to be if you don't know where your rudder is facing, before you give it a shot of power.

Have fun.
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Old 11-17-2015, 05:58 PM   #14
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Question: do you guys rely on a rudder indicator?
Our boat is a twin but we removed the autopilot when we bought it so there is no rudder indicator. Actually, the Benmar autopilot was so old I'm not even sure there was a rudder indicator. I don't recall one.

But we've never felt the need for one. The wood-spoked wheels at the helm stations have multiple grooves cut around the end of the "king" spoke, and steering is three turns lock to lock. Before getting underway whoever is driving turns the wheel fully from lock to lock to make sure the cable-chain steering system is free and then centers the wheel and rudders one and half turns back from one of the full-lock positions. From then on it's easy to know the rudder position.

The single engine boat of the same make and model we chartered before buying our own had an autopilot with a rudder indicator. We never felt the need to refer to it, either, once the rudder had been centered before departing using the king spoke on the wheel. We never used the autopilot on that boat and, as with our present boat, hand steering made it easy to know where the rudder was all the time.
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Old 11-17-2015, 06:39 PM   #15
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Rudder indicator is useful for docking as I frequently back and fill. Where it is very important, says the Admiral, is when we are lifting anchor, or even more so when we are seeking to attach a line to a mooring ball. Admiral is then at the helm and she relies on the rudder indicator.
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Old 11-18-2015, 07:23 AM   #16
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Question: do you guys rely on a rudder indicator?
NO. I had my old Mainship about 6 years when I installed an AP that had a rudder indicator. By that time I didn't need it.
I have never used the indicator on my single screw Albin.
Go by the number of turns lock to lock. That will get you close enough to be centered or full port/starboard for close handling.
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:10 PM   #17
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Go by the number of turns lock to lock. That will get you close enough to be centered or full port/starboard for close handling.
I would agree with this notion. Obviously when steering underway small corrections are needed to stay on track. But the boat itself serves as the "rudder indicator" in this case so we've never experienced a need to look at a pointer on a display.

When maneuvering at slow speed/idle rpm we've found that for the rudder(s) to be effective to assist the maneuver we want it or them to be fully deflected anyway, one direction or the other. So no indicator needed for that either.

I cant' recall ever wanting just partial rudder when maneuvering to or from a dock or slip. And if we did we'd probably want half deflection or thereabouts, not some precise angle. Boat steering is not that exacting in our experience. So it would be a simple matter of backing the wheel off from full lock by a half a turn or so or adding a turn from centered.
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:38 PM   #18
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A reminder to only shift gears at idle. Your transmission and damper plate will thank you. Sometimes you get panicky but most of the time idle rpms are sufficient to maneuver. After a while shots of power are appropriate but don't forget rule number one. Rule number two is NO JUMPING and no bodies to be used as fenders!
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Old 11-23-2015, 05:54 PM   #19
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Brought the boat back today, and it was so nice I took a nice detour out to Anacapa Island. It only took three approaches to put her in the slip, not bad for the first time in her permanent home. I also managed not to hit anything, although the wind was blowing hard enough from that I had to jump back on and give her a shot of reverse after I got the first line on. I need to rig up a set of midship spring lines if I'm going to singlehand.

My first thought was that since she walks so much to port that I'd purposely overshoot slightly, turn hard in, and then give her a dose of reverse to stop and end up straight in the slip. It worked perfectly, if I had wanted to be parallel to the slip with the bow pointed straight at the piling and stuck in the middle of the fairway. So I did a less than graceful twenty point Austin Powers style turn and headed back out to try again. There was a commercial fishing boat from Morro Bay dead astern, I think I gave then quite a show.

I did manage to figure out the bump forward to point the bow and then reverse method someone mentioned above. Thanks, that works pretty well if I allow for the walk in advance.

In the end, I got it in without hitting anything, which is a win in my book. I took photos with my phone, but they're upside down. I'll fix them and re-attach.
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Old 11-23-2015, 06:58 PM   #20
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Some people get a hang of the single engine thing pretty quickly, some never do. Sounds like you are in the former small group. Congratulations.
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