How to Maneuver a Sailboat in Close Quarters

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,869
    Kevin Wensley, Director of Operations of the Offshore Sailing School, demonstrates how to properly maneuver a sailboat in close quarters.

    Kevin Wensley: Hello! My name is Kevin Wensley and I am Director of Operations at Offshore Sailing School. Today I am at South Seas Island resort on beautiful Captiva Island here Florida.

    And today I want to tell you little bit about how to do a back-and-fill. And a back-and-fill is a maneuver that you would use on a larger sail boat, say between 40 and 50 feet when you are operating under power.

    This is something that is particular useful ensuring tight quarters like in a marina. So if you are in a marina you're pretty unlikely to be operating on the sail. So even with just the motor running, there is quite a few influences on how the boat performs that we need to take into consideration.

    So the first thing I want to think about is how the wind affects the boat. So we have something called wind effect. So even with the sails down the wind will catch on what's called the top sides of the boat and force the bow either to port or starboard depending on which side the wind catches first.

    In addition to wind effect we have to think a little bit about prop walk, and prop walk is the tendency of the back of the boat to move to port or starboard depending on which way your prop rotates as you go into reverse.

    And then the last thing to think about is rudder wash, and rudder wash is water being forced over the rudder and causing the boat to rotate. So for my back and fill what I will do is if my prop moves the back of my boat to port, what I want to do is initiate my turn to starboard. So I will use forward motion to start the boat rotating to starboard.

    And then I will go into reverse and as I go into reverse the back of the boat will start moving to port or continue rotating to port. And once we've got the bow through the eye of the wind we can then use a bit of rudder wash which is by gunning the engine in forwards and getting the boat to initiate rotation without advancing.

    And then what you will find is that very quickly we've managed to pull-off a 180 degree turn in the boat's own length.

    By following these tips we will be able to pull-off a back and fill in close quarters in no time.

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