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Prop Walk when in reverse

Aug 23, 2014
hunter 25 annapolis
I own a 1979 Hunter 33. It's challenging to handle when maneuvering in close quarters. It currently has a 2 blade prop. I anyone has any insight into this problem please share. I was thinking a different prop would help. If anyone knows the specifications of a prop that helps reduce this problem please share. I love this site and look forward to contributing.
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May 25, 2012
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
prop walk is normal. learn to use it to your advantage. all boats
prop walk. all props have TWO forces. the digging ahead that by product is thrust. and the paddle wheel force that walks you to the side. its great. learn to use it. its normal
Feb 17, 2006
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Welcome aboard. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the fun!

This is not a problem. It is a fact of physics. When the propeller is spinning, it will also have a tendency to "walk" in the direction it is spinning. Makes no difference how many blades it has. Use it to your advantage.
Jan 1, 2006
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
Ditto above. Prop walk is your friend. It can make a single screw boat go sideways. It's too bad you're too far from Block Island to have one of the Payne's teach you in the field how to handle your boat. You can get an entire education in 5 minutes.
Dec 25, 2000
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
Hi Bill, was in your position several years ago with our new boat. Dickens of time handling her at times, but then I learned to use her faculties in maneuvering in different situations. Wrote an article about it awhile ago. Hope it is of some help to you.

Feb 8, 2014
Columbia 36 Muskegon
If you have trouble when backing out of a slip or similar, try giving a good blast of reverse to get the boat moving then go back to neutral. The boat will walk while in reverse but should be more manageable once you shift to neutral.
You may notice that some boats seen to prop walk worse than others, this is more a function of hull design rather than prop type.
For an example of how to use the walk to your advantage, check the movie "Captain Ron" where he docks the boat at the yacht club. He slides the boat sideways to the dock on the starboard side. Had to be a left handed prop, that maneuver would not have been possible with a right hand screw. The boat would have slid the other way.
Mar 20, 2011
Hunter 31_83-87 New Orleans
good article on prop walk. Hope this helps.

May 24, 2004
CC 30 South Florida
I find the prop walk on the Hunter Cherubinis to be quite predictable so I fail to see the problem. It is a matter of learning how to reverse the boat. The prop walk also has some uses. If you want to turn a boat around 180 degrees on its own axis prop walk provides the means. Prop walk can also be used as a thruster to back the stern into a tight spot. Remember one thing a boat with the transmission in neutral does not experience prop walk. The idea is to give the engine a short blast of power in reverse and the quickly shift to neutral to allow the boat to glide back under steerage. Alternating then between reverse and neutral will allow directional control. Trying to fight prop walk is the wrong approach. It is easier to maneuver the boat in the direction of the prop walk than trying to go the opposite way. In some instances it will be impossible to offset prop walk and this is when creative boat handling comes into effect. Let's say you have to back out in the wrong direction, just do it and then turn the boat around. If the space is a tight fairway, that is when turning the boat in its own axis comes in handy. Go forward slow on the port side of the fairway and turn the wheel full to starboard at the same time you shift into reverse, that will kick out the stern and tighten the turning radius. When you feel the boat is coming to a stop in the middle of the turn just shift forward and complete the turn. Practice and you will be able to turn the boat in its own length. Also learn and practice how to turn the boat with dock lines. Also remember than when the boat is stopped there is no rudder control so there is no sense in turning the wheel to counteract prop walk. Leave it centered and you will gain steerage quicker. All you need to do is getting the boat to start moving back and then quickly shift to neutral. Is like when docking and the boat is almost stopped and I see people standing behind the wheel. At that point you are better off walking to grab a line or fend the boat off. In some situations it may be better to drop a crew member off at the dock and then throw him a line so can pull the boat in. Have not seen a prop that will reduce the walk without introducing other negative characteristics. A three blade may improve balance but will result in increased drag under sail. If you start lowering the pitch then the top end will suffer as well as the possibility of over revving the engine.
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Seems boat owners who jump in and attempt new experiences like close quarters maneuvering often find boat position management a challenge. Searching for a cause to blame feels easier than identifying skill weaknesses in training.

I have always thought that having your own boat is like getting your first car. It is an opportunity to just go out and play with it. Taking it out on the interstate gets boring really quick. Turning doughnuts in an open parking lot is way more fun. Trying high speed j turns or three point turns is a kick. But to learn you need space and an extra pair of tires.

A boat is the same. Playing with it in the bay, doing circles, rotating inside your own boat length, emergency reverses, pull up to a float, backing in a straight line, doing it all in calm to rough weather is one of the joys boat ownership provides. No one charters a boat to play these games.

But playing such games will teach you the skills needed to bring a boat and it’s prop walk to obey your commands and not the other way around.

So next time you at the marina just go out in the bay and play. Spend two, three, or four hours churning water. You’ll be a happier owner and your boat will experience fewer dings.
Jun 7, 2004
- - Milwaukee
Agree with all the above. When I got our new hunter, I went out and practiced docking by approaching and stopping at an empty buoy. This resulted in developing a technique of hard helm one direction while in reverse, then rapidly switching to hard helm the other way in neutral. In other words, find out what works, then use it to your advantage.
May 23, 2005
Hunter Legend 37.5 Mobile, AL
We all have the same problem. My two blade folding prop on my H37.5 walks too. When starting a reverse maneuver, I rev the engine higher and seem to get more reverse than walk, then throttle back. Once moving, the walk is less. Seems lower rpms walks more.
Jun 8, 2004
-na -NA Anywhere USA
As a former dealer, I gave two weeks of instruction at no charge and this was one issue to instruct. First there are two things going on. One is the prop wall to the left/port. The other is no initial steerage of the rudder until you have enough water flow to take affect of that rudder for steerage.

My instructors would teach this not at the Marina in the beginning but rather out in open waters and then later at the marina under instructor guidance. the best advice given is to start with instruction from someone who knows and can teach you
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Mar 29, 2017
Hunter 30t 9805 littlecreek
Backing into slip makes it easy to get out. Backing easier with water flow across rudder so stop in middle of fairway or back all way down fairway into slip
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Jul 18, 2012
Hunter 410 Kingston, Ontario
My docking approach, Hunter 410.

My prop walks to port and I nearly always dock to port. To dock, in close quarters, I get as close as possible to the dock, the bow nearly touching the dock (have your fenders set way before). By then, I have killed all forward motion, I steer starboard full rudder, shift in reverse, engine at idle, the boat is still motionless, then the prop walk gives me lateral motion to port; thus my stern gets closer to the dock. When I start having backward motion, I shift to forward and rev the engine just a bit, thus pushing the stern closer to the dock, and I repeat... If the bow is getting away from the dock, I steer port full rudder and give a burst or two forward. No one gets (never jump) off my boat until my lifeline gate is against the dock.

In windy situation, when the wind pushes you away from the dock you may have to use more thrust.

Trial and error, and many fenders, is key.

May the wind be with you and stay away from Covid19.


Aug 18, 2015
West Marine Kayak Tampa Bay
As other's have said, don't consider this a problem, look at it as a feature of the boat. It is actually helpful once you learn how to use it.

There are lots of specifics mentioned above. At the risk of adding to your potential overwhelm, I'm going to add three more:

1) Because this is more easily understood when actually SEEN rather than envisioned, consider asking another (sail)boat-owning friend/club member/local instructor to spend an hour with you in docking/maneuvering practice. To lessen stress, you can start in more open water and use floats/fenders as targets, then progress to actual marina docks. An instructor may charge you, but 30 bucks or so is a worthwhile investment.

2) One of the things that helped me enormously was using large bursts of throttle in reverse to get the boat moving, but reducing to idle/neutral the INSTANT the boat is moving. It's almost like a single big rev of the engine. Prop walk is worse at high throttle settings, and almost non existent at idle, and absolutely not there in neutral. Get the boat moving, then remove the prop walk by going to idle reverse or neutral. When she loses enough way that steerage suffers, give another brief burst of reverse.

3) I never tried to steer while under high RPMs in reverse. In other words, supply the boat with only one input at a time - I used the throttle to get (or keep) the boat moving, but only when at idle or in neutral would I make steering inputs if they were needed. Remember that in reverse, the rudder is much less effective, and adding more rudder can make it worse - it serves as a brake and scrubs off momentum. If you are doing it right, you never have to change the rudder setting (from right rudder in my case). Throttle changes, and transmission changes (forward/neutral/reverse) will do everything needed, if you "stay ahead" of the boat.

This 3 minute video may help (there are MANY others on Youtube):

Apr 4, 2015
Hunter 38 Campbell River
Welcome to the forum Bill, and to the problems of handling in close quarters. Many of us have suffered through learning the skills and you've received lots of advice re prop walk. It is your friend, not your enemy. But there are other factors to consider. My 38 has lots of windage and the bow comes around very quickly in a breeze so that effect needs to be considered as well. Current is also a factor in many places here in the PNW. Motion is your friend in maneuvering - try to keep moving because you retain steerage that way. I back down the fairway well past my slip, then smoothly shift to forward to first stop then get the boat moving forward in one easy motion without hesitating, and then move back toward and turn into my slip. Are you comfortable backing the boat up? If not, take it out somewhere safe and practice backing up to a point - a vacant mooring buoy or an open dock. Get good at it. A boat doesn't steer like a car - you're actually moving the back end so the bow is pointed where you want to go, and it turns around its keel. You also "slide" the boat sideways a bit at the end when you're docking - then use the prop walk in reverse to both stop and snug your stern end into the dock.
I tend to be very analytical and like to think out my complete maneuver beforehand, predetermine a bailout point (the last safe point to abandon what I'm trying to do) and if there is a reasonable plan B if plan A proves too difficult. I also analyze each maneuver (usually docking) afterwards to think "what did I screw up?" and "what could I have done better?". Experience is usually built on a number of negative happenings - we've all had screw-ups and have lived through them. They're learning experiences.
Sep 26, 2008
Hunter 44 Middle River, MD
I go bow into my slip for the view while in the slip. When leaving, I have to leave against prop wash and it is a very tight turn (2-4' to spare). So I use a LONG floating line loop on my mid-cleat, round the outer piling (inside turn), and then return the line to the cockpit or loose around the winch. Back out slowly, tighten the line first as you go out, then let it payout as you go more, use the line to turn your stern by applying a little pressure. You would be surprised how little pressure it takes to turn the stern in light winds. In heavy opposing winds, we wrap the line around the winch once. When you have your stern pointed in the right direction, drop the floating line in the water for your mate to retrieve from the mid cleat. This is how we leave our slip every time we go out and never have an issue. The view from the cockpit overlooking the river is worth the little extra work leaving using a floating line :cool:... I see that you are in Annapolis. Your local Hunter Club would certainly be willing to work with you on practice docking. Learning skills are part of the club goals. Nice group of people!
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Nov 6, 2017
Catalina 30 5611 Stratford, Ct
We keep our boat on the Housatonic River in Stratford Ct where the current is strong and typically runs at a 45-degree angle to our slip. I can tell you that many have problems docking there. If the current is strong when leaving the dock sometimes prop walk would not allow me to turn the boat the way I wanted and I would end up backing out of the fairway into the channel. That went on for the entire first year we were there, but one day I heard someone say "neutral is your friend". What that means is in tight places like in a marina only use the engine to get the boat moving fast enough to make the rudder effective. In other words, get the boat moving then shift into neutral. If the prop is not turning the effect of prop walk is no longer in the equation. The boat will continue where you steer it until boat speed slows to the point that the rudder stops working. Popping it back in gear just long enough to get the boat moving again will allow you to steer the boat once again. All it takes is a short burst of power to get you moving in the direction you want to go and then shift back to neutral. So remember those four words next time when docking and with a bit of practice, you will become confident while docking your boat without having to worry about prop walk.
Aug 23, 2014
hunter 25 annapolis
I'm overwhelmed by the response! I was thinking I'd get a couple of answers in a couple of days and got 17 in less than a day!!! Thanks a million for taking the time to chip in and help with your comments and experiences. I'll plan my entrances and exits so that the prop walk works in my favor.

Thanks, Mates!! Safe Sailing!!
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Jun 1, 2009
Hunter 49 toronto
I own a 1979 Hunter 33. It's challenging to handle when maneuvering in close quarters. It currently has a 2 blade prop. I anyone has any insight into this problem please share. I was thinking a different prop would help. If anyone knows the specifications of a prop that helps reduce this problem please share. I love this site and look forward to contributing.
Yes, you can “use” prop walk to help you move your stern in a certain direction, but what if you want to go the other way?
I found that the best way to deal with prop walk is to get rid of it. Unfortunately, this is not free.
The solution is a 3 blade feathering prop. Either Max prop or vari prop.
There are other major advantages to these, which is why they are so popular.