Thursday, 19 January 2012

On Manoeuvres (3)

This is one of an occasional series of postings about manoeuvring a narrow-boat on the canals and rivers. There may be other ways to achieve the same result. However, the method I employ has been devised or adapted by me using trial and error. (Trial and Error are two of my regular boating companions) Our boat is a semi-traditional in style and just over 50 feet long. Rosie has a keel depth of twenty five inches and weighs in at a tad over eighteen tons. The techniques described are intended to help new comers to boating and the forgetful like me! However, if you have crew available they can still assist when things get difficult by keeping quiet and not offering their advice.

Moving clear of the bank.

The side of a shallow draft vessel like our narrow boat acts as a very effective sail in windy conditions. However, the sail effect may be working against you when manoeuvring around. If you have ever had your boat pinned to the bank by the wind. Its sometimes a real trial of your patience to get clear of the bank and under way. The stronger the wind blows the harder it is to get off.

I have been working out my own techniques for dealing with this and other kinds of problematical situations. First you need to be aware of the hazards. In shallow water such as close to the bank the tiller or propeller is always in danger of coming into contact with some object or other. The further you move along close to the bank the more likely you are to meet up with some object or other just under the surface. Try to keep the propeller speeds reduced until clear of the bank. The tiller is also a problem, especially if you reverse into the bank. The tiller may be forced through its full arc and you could be swept overboard by the tiller arm. Always stand clear of the tiller ark when manoeuvring the boat especially when moving in reverse.

So my technique is to set the boat in forward gear and with the minimum amount of power. Set the tiller to push the nose into the bank. This manoeuvre causes the stern to move away from the bank. Use just enough power to push the stern out from the bank with minimal or no forward movement of the boat.

When the stern is well clear of the bank go into reverse using a good bit of power and pull the bow clear of the bank. Keep a weather eye on the opposite bank, Take care not to put the stern to close into the opposite bank. As soon as the boat has gathered a little speed in reverse, I then set the tiller at about three quarters of full movement and using as few engine revs as possible start to push the stern back in towards the bank. As long as there is some backward movement and for a few moments whilst the boat is almost still in the water. The boat will continue to pirouette around its centre point. As soon as the bow is further to the centre of the canal than the tiller. Move the tiller towards the centre line, to deflect more of the power into moving the boat forward. Then gently increase the forward power to gain the centre of the canal. Straightening up the boat as you move away.

You may need to modify the technique if there is any flow in the water. The amount of power you will need to use will depend on the angle of the wind against the side of the boat. If the wind speed is variable (gusting) try to time your manoeuvre for when the wind falls away a bit. You will not get it right first time, but practise the technique even when there is little or no wind. This technique has often been used to successfully release our boat from the bank. There have been a couple of occasions when we have even had to drop the pram cover at the back just to reduce the sail effect.

Previous On Manoeuvres (1) (2)

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