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magictime

Steering basics - zigzag effect?

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2 minutes ago, mross said:

So, maybe, it depends on how much rudder is behind its pivot point compared to the amount in front - ie, how 'balanced' the rudder is.  I can certainly see that kicking it into neutral would eliminate prop-walk.

Yes I think so.

Hudsons were built with a lot of caster angle which made the rudder self centering, but heavy. 

Some were converted (The Mudie Mod) to reduce the heaviness of the steering, I suspect by either altering the amount of rudder ahead and behind the pivot point, or by reducing the caster angle.

Perhaps a Hudson owner can clarify? 

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1 hour ago, cuthound said:

Yes I think so.

Hudsons were built with a lot of caster angle which made the rudder self centering, but heavy. 

Some were converted (The Mudie Mod) to reduce the heaviness of the steering, I suspect by either altering the amount of rudder ahead and behind the pivot point, or by reducing the caster angle.

Perhaps a Hudson owner can clarify? 

The tillers are quite heavy under power. The castor merely makes the tiller self-centre when stationary, it doesn't require significant force to move the tiller away from central, so I don't think it's relevant in this context.

There is not much rudder in front of the pivot which is why it is heavy, along with it being a very large rudder. The downside is that manoeuvring with significant power on is a "man's job".

The upside is that it will go straight ahead for long periods unassisted. On deep water that is. On shallow canals it suffers from the stern being pulled into the side unless you are exactly central in the channel. Steering is very positive. You also get a lot of "feedback" so if the tiller suddenly goes light you know you have crap on the prop / bottom too close to the top. It steers reasonably well in neutral, unlike other narrowboats I've driven.

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2 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

I'm not familiar with that engine but it sounds like a marinised digger engine, in which case 900rpm probably isn't that fast. What would you consider 'normal' cruising speed on it?

Maybe 1100rpm?

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5 hours ago, Hudds Lad said:

it's just experience I guess, only being a shareboater with sometimes large gaps between time on the water it always takes me a little while to get out of the steering a car mindset where everything happens almost instantly and from the front, and back into the boat mindset where its not instant and pivots in the middle and carries on a bit after you've stopped turning.

It wasn't you on a share boat today was it. travelling at tick over and rudder hard right followed by hard left, due to the slow speed the boat didn't zigzag that much but it looked a lot of effort to go down the middle of the canal.:)

1 hour ago, cuthound said:

Yes I think so.

Hudsons were built with a lot of caster angle which made the rudder self centering, but heavy. 

Some were converted (The Mudie Mod) to reduce the heaviness of the steering, I suspect by either altering the amount of rudder ahead and behind the pivot point, or by reducing the caster angle.

Perhaps a Hudson owner can clarify? 

Challenger did this to their share boat, left the angle the same but changed the rudder balance. I enquired for a friend who has a Hudson and his wife found it to heavy to steer.

 

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32 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

It wasn't you on a share boat today was it. travelling at tick over and rudder hard right followed by hard left, due to the slow speed the boat didn't zigzag that much but it looked a lot of effort to go down the middle of the canal.

if only, not back on the water until February now :( unless there's a week spare beforehand or we miss it too much and go hire one :D

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The only point I would add to the above is that, when I am helping new crew members to steer, I encourage them to not think about exactly which way the tiller is pointing, but how much sideways pressure they are applying.

So to pick up Moomin Papa's point about angular momentum, if the boat is turning then the natural "do nothing" position of the tiller will be slightly off centre - take your hand off and try. Then you need to apply sideways force to stop it turning. The amount of resistance you get from the tiller will give you a good clue as to the likely effect of what you are doing.  Hope that helps  - it seems to work for me but everyone learns in a different way.

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1 minute ago, Scholar Gypsy said:

The only point I would add to the above is that, when I am helping new crew members to steer, I encourage them to not think about exactly which way the tiller is pointing, but how much sideways pressure they are applying.

Very necessary on Belfast. When the rudder is in the ahead position the end of the tiller is about a foot off centre. So you have to steer by what the boat is doing, not where the tiller is!

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15 hours ago, David Mack said:

Very necessary on Belfast. When the rudder is in the ahead position the end of the tiller is about a foot off centre. So you have to steer by what the boat is doing, not where the tiller is!

Yes we quickly learned that our steering wheel isn't on centrally!

Can only echo what others have said.  Plenty of practice and you will soon learn how the boat handles.

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Anyone doing the Inland Helmsman course at Willow Wren Training will be taught the "Steer a bit, straight a bit, wait a bit" technique. (Other RYA training centres are available).

 

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Some very good tips above, in particular, in my opinion, 2 or 3 that I picked up from experience and found very useful.

These being...

Little and often to stay in a straight line. So little in fact that I'm hardly aware I'm doing it anymore.

Adding a brief burst of power (but not too much) with the tiller already pushed over if needing to steer quickly out of trouble.

Briefly pushing the tiller over the other way after a turn in order to straighten up quickly.

Treating the boat as being of two halves. I've never consciously thought of it like that but that is how I do it. Very useful for bridges and also for going round obstructions like an overhanging tree without scraping against it. 

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Before a tight turn, slow the boat to a crawl, then give it loads of welly as you apply rudder.  Sometimes, when applying rudder too quickly, the prop wash goes both sides of the rudder and it's better to apply rudder slowly but this will vary from boat to boat.  It's easy to observe though.

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On 25/09/2017 at 13:44, Stilllearning said:

Keep an eye on where the front end is pointing, and constantly make small corrections to keep the boat going where you want.

 

I'm not sure I agree with this.  I see a lot of people constantly making small corrections, and it looks like hard work to me.  I try to move the tiller as little as possible.

Also, when you're making a turn, anticipate when the bow will be going in the right direction, and straighten up the tiller just before.  If you wait until it's going in the right direction it's too late -- it'll keep going and then you'll have to correct.  Anticipate, and you won't have to correct and everything will feel like a lot less work.

On 25/09/2017 at 09:52, magictime said:

Fast forward to the weekend just gone. I'm at a 'proper' tiller on a 'proper' 55ft, inboard-engine boat for the first time, after a 3-year break from boating... and I'm embarrassed to admit that I was having the same basic problem (albeit not as extreme):

I see your boat name I'd Ferndale?  Is that the blogging Ferndale, whose owners are going back to Australia?  We never got to meet them, but did meet the previous owners, when the boat was called Gypsy Rover.

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8 hours ago, mross said:

Before a tight turn, slow the boat to a crawl, then give it loads of welly as you apply rudder.  

 

I'd almost agree with this. Extending the principle, I prefer to bring the boat to a complete halt then have it going backwards very slightly to start the turn. THEN engage ahead with bags of rudder for a few seconds to get the boat rotating but with minimal forward speed. 

Then shut down the throttle to tickover while the boat continues to rotate. When the angular rotation fades, open the throttle again far a short blast, all the time with rudder hard over. Repeat as necessary.  

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3 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

I'd almost agree with this. Extending the principle, I prefer to bring the boat to a complete halt then have it going backwards very slightly to start the turn. THEN engage ahead with bags of rudder for a few seconds to get the boat rotating but with minimal forward speed. 

Then shut down the throttle to tickover while the boat continues to rotate. When the angular rotation fades, open the throttle again far a short blast, all the time with rudder hard over. Repeat as necessary.  

+1  You can spin the boat in its' own length like this - no bowthruster necessary :) (provided nobod is watching :( )

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On 25/09/2017 at 10:21, MoominPapa said:

but it's worth thinking on the fact that boats, being long, have significant angular momentum. This is just like the more familiar effect that things moving tend to keep moving in the same direction, but it refers to turning. Once the boat is turning, it will keep rotating even if you put the tiller back to the middle.

on some boats you can feel when this momentum has been overcome, on mine when first starting to turn you are pushing the tiller, after a couple of seconds (without adjusting the tiller) you are pulling against it to prevent it turning further

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A useful tip is: After you have popped down into the cabin to get your coat for the approaching storm, when you run back up the steps and reach the tiller, if it has moved significantly off centre then push it back the other way at least the same amount, before looking to see where the boat is going. You will then likely apply the right correction a second or two earlier and this can be enough to avoid the shalllows/trees etc.

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On 29/09/2017 at 17:53, adam1uk said:

I see your boat name I'd Ferndale?  Is that the blogging Ferndale, whose owners are going back to Australia?  We never got to meet them, but did meet the previous owners, when the boat was called Gypsy Rover.

That's the one!

Happy to report I'm getting the hang of it now, which is just as well given all the boats and bends around in the area we've been cruising through (GU, north Oxford, Coventry). Thanks fo all the helpful replies. I think the thing that made the biggest difference was one of the Willow Wren videos, which I'd already found on YouTube, showing a techique that fits the description of "steer a bit, straight a bit, wait a bit". Basically I think I'd been holding the tiller over too little but for too long. Having corrected that I've been getting a feel for it fairly quickly.

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I think beginners also tend to watch the front of the boat rather than look ahead at the course they want to take (when you drive a car you don't look at the end of the bonnet but at the road ahead. At least if you're vaguely competent you do.) Look ahead and your unconscious brain will process the data better than you can. 

Also you notice nervous boaters looking from side to side in bridges or entering locks - and usually wagging the tiller accidentally. Look at where you want the boat to be. 

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