Tight turns in long-keel­ers

Get­ting a long keeler go­ing astern

Practical Boat Owner - - Contents -

Own­ers of long-keel­ers are used to chal­lenges in con­fined spa­ces. We last vis­ited this sub­ject in PBO De­cem­ber 2014, when I joined Mike Far­quhar­son-Roberts on his Voy­ager 30 in Gosport.

Our big­gest chal­lenge – and one faced by many long-keel­ers – was steer­ing in astern: once the bow had started to swing more than a de­gree or two, it was off. The an­swer was to keep a close eye on the bow and to make any nec­es­sary cor­rec­tions with the wheel as early as pos­si­ble. Oth­er­wise it’s nor­mally a mat­ter of go­ing for­ward again to re-align the boat, then con­tin­u­ing in re­verse and al­low­ing space in case the prop-walk takes you the wrong way un­til you gain steer­age-way.

In this in­stance there was no bowthruster, so we had to do things the tra­di­tional way. Warps, and know­ing how to use them, can also come in handy.

Chal­leng­ing though Mike’s ma­rina was for a boat like his, it was man­age­able – at least in fairly calm con­di­tions.

For Alan Ward’s Fisher North­easter in Titch­marsh, on the other hand, life with­out a bow-thruster sim­ply wouldn’t be pos­si­ble. We met Alan and North Star in Septem­ber’s PBO when we looked at ways to make tack­ing faster and more pos­i­tive. There was an­other po­ten­tially chal­leng­ing aspect to han­dling North Star, too: get­ting in and out of the berth. But whereas un­der sail I had been able to come up with some ideas to help – and two pairs of hands were use­ful any­way – Alan per­formed the ma­rina ma­noeu­vres on his own with such adroit­ness that there was no need for me to do any­thing on board. I could stand on the pon­toon to ob­serve and pho­to­graph.

Sharp cor­ners

North Star is berthed port-side-to on a fin­ger pon­toon near the en­closed end of the run, stern-in to the main walk­way. In a south-westerly, the wind would be blow­ing from her star­board beam. It would be push­ing her against the fin­ger, but per­haps mak­ing life less chal­leng­ing than in a north-east­erly, which is what we had on the day. Mo­tor­ing for­ward out of the berth and turn­ing hard to port with a stiff wind from the port side might test the skip­per’s nerves in a fin-keeler. The op­po­site pon­toon isn’t that far away. In a boat like North Star it’s some­thing you prob­a­bly wouldn’t even want to at­tempt. Let­ting the boat weather-cock and then re­vers­ing out might be a safer ap­proach in any breeze. Un­like some boats of broadly sim­i­lar style, North Star has a keel that runs the full length of the hull with no hint of a cut-away to­wards the bow. As we found un­der sail, turn­ing cor­ners is not what she was de­signed to do.

Get­ting back into the berth in a south-westerly might be pos­si­ble if you were to go just up­wind of the fin­ger pon­toon and let the wind blow the bow to port be­fore go­ing astern. In a north­east­erly it’s hard to think of an ap­proach that would give you any chance, cer­tainly with­out at least half-a-dozen helpers on board and ashore who are used to han­dling lengthy warps.

Thank­fully Alan has a bow-thruster to com­ple­ment the 50hp Nanni with its three-bladed prop. You still need to know how to use this ex­tra help, though.

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