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Question re: motoring in reverse

May 24, 2004
CC 30 South Florida
Boats are not like cars, when you turn the wheel the stern swings out in the direction of the turn. To be able to do the "standing Turn" you need to have forward motion and then turn the wheel fully to kick the stern out. Utilizing prop walk is helpful but realize that even boats with very little prop walk can perform the maneuver. Once you kick the stern out just shift into reverse and it slows forward motion while maintaining the sliding motion of the stern. As the motion of the stern starts slowing down you may shift back to forward and repeat the procedure while keeping the wheel turned fully. Once you have adequate turning room just shift to forward and ease the wheel in the opposite direction to gain your course. To find out which side your boat favors you need to insure that wind and current will not be a factor and set your rudder straight and ease the boat into reverse at idle speed. The boat with little or no outside interference will favor the side of the prop walk. Once you know which side the prop walk favors then you can use it your advantage by starting the "standing turn" in that direction as the walk will enhance the swing out motion of the stern. Some boats will perform the maneuver better than others and it is good to practice in an open space so you may learn its limitations and how the introduction of current and wind may affect the maneuver.
Sep 20, 2014
Rob Legg RL24 Chain O'Lakes
When you talk about the rudder braking, remember the rudder is a foil just like your sail. If you turn it too far, the water does not stay attached to the back side, which makes it stall. If you were able to look straight down over it, you would probably see water spinning in circles around the back side of the rudder. The foil shape is designed to work in the forward direction, so the foil doesn't work very well in reverse. You can turn it much harder going forward, than in reverse.

While I've never needed to do the turn you describe, from a physics point of view, even if the boat is going backwards, a short forward burst from the engine will cause forward motion of the water across the rudder and rotate the boat without moving forward. Turning is by the direction the water is flowing over the rudder, not necessarily the direction of the boat. It looks like the trick to making a standing turn work would be to keep the boat moving backward all the time. The forward burst from the engine would slow the reverse motion, but I'm thinking the boat should not need to actually move forward, but only have forward motion of water across the rudder.
May 24, 2004
CC 30 South Florida
Wind, current, prop walk, rudder and spring lines are all factors that may cause a boat to turn. The secret is to use them to your advantage so the boat will turn in the direction you want it to. I was at a marina in Key West when I hear this engine roaring and I turn around and see this 40' Morgan ketch backing out of its slip at full speed. Just before it hit the boat across the fairway the stern stopped and the bow started coming around driven by momentum. I just then realized that they had tied a spring line to the dock and to the boat's port stern cleat which was now acting as a pivot point. As soon as the bow pointed forward to exit the fairway a dock hand released the line which was hauled in by a boat mate. This was a 40' boat being turned on a fairway not more than 45'-50' wide against some windy conditions. They new exactly the length of the line needed for the boat to clear both stern and bow during the maneuver and the captain executed it as planned. He needed full speed to be able to bring the bow about. You could tell he had done this before as he just made it look easy. I would say the trick is to recognize and anticipate how the prevalent conditions will cause the boat to react and formulate a plan on how to use them to your advantage to get the boat going in the direction you want to go. Do not pull out of a slip without having a plan.
May 12, 2004
Hunter Cherubini 30 New Port Richey
All good advice. My boat sits in a corner slip with the pier along the stern and to starboard. I back in because my left hand prop-walk would hinder me backing out. I have to come up to my slip and put the rudder over hard to starboard then go to reverse leaving the rudder hard over. She then starts backing down but still walks to port. As my stern gets right up to the pier, I give it a good, quick shot of forward to kick the stern a bit to port. Once I'm fairly lined up, I ease the rudder to port and with a little way-on I can steer her into the slip while in neutral. In my situation this really only works well with a westerly breeze to help bring the bow around to starboard. An easterly breeze will push my bow and, subsequently, the whole boat sideways into other boats. In that case, I have to come in and make a quick turn to port, turn 180 degrees to get the bow thru the wind, get going as fast as I can in reverse then allow the rudder to take over. Sometimes, in this situation, I end up against the outside piling. I then grab the hanging bow line and take a turn around the aft port cleat and spring in. If a strong wind out of the North pushes me up against the pier we simply then walk her in. I also have a 35 foot catamaran siting 35 feet right in front of me tied up alongside the pier. That does make it interesting. Anyway, to re-iterate all the advice given, get to know how your boat handles in different situations, in close quarters, in reverse, use spring lines and, as the old joke goes, 'How do you get to Carnegie Hall?', Practice, Practice, Practice.
May 24, 2004
CC 30 South Florida
Absolutely, good point, Scott.

Do them so you're set up to move the stern to port first (on MOST boats). Since prop walk only works when the boat isn't moving fore or aft, you want to use it when the boat is stopped to start the turn.
Stu, it has been my observation that prop walk is enhanced when the water around the prop is still (boat stopped) and also when it is flowing in a direction opposite to the propulsion of prop rotation (boat moving forward with reverse engaged). Obviously the boat has to be moving slow as once the rudder gains sufficient steerage it overpowers prop walk. This may be the reason why stalling the rudder by overturning in the direction of travel allows prop walk to take over in the Standing Turn. I frequently use prop walk as my stern thruster when in the final approach to dockside along the port side; with the boat still moving slowly forward I will shift into reverse and bring the stern in. It seems that water moving in the opposite direction of propulsion offers stronger resistance than still water enhancing prop walk. This is my non-scientific analysis based on sometimes clouded observations.
Sep 17, 2017
Pearson 28-2 washington nc
A good thing to remember is that when your prop is running in reverse, there is a considerable water stream impacting the rudder even with NO boat speed astern. Obviously not as much as in forward, but enough to affect on the stern movement. Since many of our props are left-hand, having about one third to one half left rudder will accentuate prop walk. Having any right rudder defeats, or diminishes the prop walk effect we often count on for maneuvering in reverse.