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Prop Walk when in reverse

Jul 19, 2013
Pearson 31-2 Boston
While prop walk is a factor is close handling, its effect is minor compared to that of forward prop wash with appropriate rudder hardover.

Understand that a sail boat does not move sideways,,,it rotates on the keel,,, prop wash contributes to a minor clockwise rotation of the boat. Propwash in forward with appropriate rudder use allows you to force the boat to rotate in which ever direction you choose. Focus on learning to use prop wash and hardover rudder to rotate your boat as needed...in those circumstances where you find propwalk contributes to the rotation that you want, let it do so. On our P31-2 the boarding gate is on the starboard side, so we generally dock starboard to, we rarely get to use a propwalk assist in rotating parallel to the dock, but will forward propwash, it does not matter.
Jul 19, 2013
Pearson 31-2 Boston
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?
Prop wash...to rotate the boat counterclockwise, hard left port rudder with a burst of foreward thrust. Mix in reverse and repeat as needed


Jan 24, 2010
Catalina 310 Ocean City, NJ
when i switched from my 2 blade prop to a 3 blade sailor prop, my prop walk just about went away..
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Apr 2, 2016
Herreshoff 36 Hobsonville Marina Auckland
Wow you guys are so lucky i have a Herreshoff 36 weighing in around 9.5 ton It is a fully keeled yacht and the base is around 300 mm thick. This makes for a great yacht when it comes to straight line sailing but a absolute problem child when in reverse. Prop walk is there but so slight to be of any help. To make matters worse steerage in reverse is not there. It just keeps going in the direction it was pointed. Had alot of fun learning to use it. and very happy to say i have plenty of room in my marina. The biggest thing we can all do is practice in the open water. Any one can steer a vessel at speed learn to doo it at idle. Have some fun.
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Nov 6, 2017
Catalina 30 5611 Stratford, Ct
When docking never forget that neutral is your friend. Get your boat moving fast enough for steering control and shift to neutral. If you start to lose control just put the boat in gear again long enough to gain control then back to neutral. With a little practice, you will be able to maneuver in tight spots with ease. Docking your boat so that prop walk will naturally walk your boat to the finger is helpful. For most of us that is probably to port. A consideration when picking a slip at your marina.
Jan 1, 2006
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
And remember that keelboats with their big rudders remain maneuverable at very low speeds. Long keel sailboats are different and I'm not experienced at their docking. But I would think that prop walk would still be a factor since before the boat gains way backwards the thrust of the prop is primarily sideways - which can be useful.
Jul 19, 2013
Pearson 31-2 Boston
....Docking your boat so that prop walk will naturally walk your boat to the finger is helpful. For most of us that is probably to port. A consideration when picking a slip at your marina.
A problem here is many boats come equipped with boarding gates only on the starboard side, where a gate is necessary for the typical pickup by a launch. As a result, if the owner wants to have the dock on the same side as the boarding gate, then you need to dock starboard side. A boat with boarding gates on both sides is a side of a premium builder, or a PO willing to spend some money on his boat.
Last edited:
Dec 28, 2015
Laser, Hunter H30 Cherubini Tacoma
I wonder if he figured out the advantages of using prop walk being he posted about 15 months ago lol
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