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Old 01-26-2007, 10:39 PM   #1
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Default Feathering Prop - advice sort

I am considering replacing our fixed 3 bladed prop on our Roberts C45 Spray, in the hope of accomplishing some/all of the following (ranked in importance to me)

Easier Reversing

Reduced weather helm

Slight improvement in sailing speed

We have a 105 HP engine - I've read the sales brouchures - but always like to hear of slightly more realistic events.

Any advice ?



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Old 01-27-2007, 01:15 AM   #2
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I use Kiwi Feathering props and am quite happy with them. Lower cost then most types, totally vibration free, you leave the engine in neutral rather then in gear while sailing. Unfortunately they aren't rated for 105 hp.

I previously used Martec folding props and will very strongly recommend AGAINST them. Terrible vibration and total lack of reverse except for a little push at max throttle. These things suck.

1) Easier reversing? It should be very good with the fixed blade prop you currently have. Especially with 105 hp!

2) Reduced weather helm? Very little... ease the main a little and that will be even better.

3) Slight improvement in sailing speed...It will help. Most Roberts are steel, though some are GRP. If your boat is steel then the weight issue drives the vessel speed more then the drag of the props but you should see some improvement.

105 hp is the biggest motor I've heard of in a Roberts.

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Old 01-27-2007, 11:03 AM   #3
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I should start this by stating that I usually always drive our boats, both the SV and MV Watermelons. According to Peter, my job is "to cook and steer".

We put a feathering prop on SV Watermelon to reduce the vibration and pressure on the transmission more than to increase speed.

I'm not sure I understand you concern about easier reversing. Your present fixed prop makes reversing difficult in what way? Prop walk? Although we had slightly less prop walk with the feathering prop, we lost almost a knot of motoring speed in forward, and reversing required a bit more initial power to get the blades to reverse.

I did not notice any improvement in weather helm with our changing to the feathering prop. As we got better at trimming our sails, most importantly reefing earlier, the weather helm eased significantly.

When we sold Watermelon in Singapore, we agreed to take the new owner out for several days to help him become accustomed with the boat. Because we felt that the feathering prop required more skill than this owner possessed (he was a complete sailing novice when he bought the 'Melon), we put the original fixed prop back on the boat.

Peter and I were both surprised at the faster motoring speed with the fixed prop, and the quicker response when the boat was put into reverse. I had forgotten what we gave up to get that little bit extra sailing speed and reduced vibration.

We had one frightening episode that I think was due to the feathering prop. Rather than relate it here, it's in our log for Papua New Guinea, the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs. http://www.cruiser.co.za/hostmelon17.asp
In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

MV WATERMELON (New) | Cruiser's Dictionary, free ebook

= Cruiser's Dictionary, North America,
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Old 01-27-2007, 07:15 PM   #4
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Jeanne, it would be helpful if you added the brand of feathering prop you installed on WATERMELON.

I'll bet your were right (back in 1994) when thinking it was the heavy current that reduced the 'bite' of the feathering prop.

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Old 01-27-2007, 08:43 PM   #5
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Sorry, it was an Autoprop, made in Australia, that was installed in St. Martin by the Aussie riggers there (absolutely fantastic sailors, those guys!). Peter says he doesn't think he'd install another of that make, though changes to the design were made several times while we owned ours and it was a better prop by the time we removed it than when we first installed it.

I should also add that since the winds in the Caribbean are so strong and reliable, we did not use our engine very much at all in the four and a half years that we sailed there (we probably used about 50 gallons of diesel/year). The feathering prop was far more useful there, and in our long passages in the S. Pacific, than once we arrived in SE Asia where there wasn't much wind at all and motoring was more important.
In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

MV WATERMELON (New) | Cruiser's Dictionary, free ebook

= Cruiser's Dictionary, North America,
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Old 01-27-2007, 09:51 PM   #6
Join Date: Jan 2005
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I am a big fan of feather props maxprop specifically. have used them on various boats for over 15 yrs. They work and can handle the HP you have which is a limitation with some of the other props. The only things a feathering prop will really do are:

1] reduce drag under sail. this will increase boat speed by some amount [can be up to 1/2 knot]

2] reduce wear on engine trans as shaft is not turning while sailing

3] possibly improve reverse handling especially prop walk...this will vary significantly depending upson boat ..

4] really allow you to set the pitch to one which will work best on your boat engine combo..


Jon D

SV Sirius

Moody 47
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