Motor Cruisers, Get Ready for the Season

14 Jan
2016
Motor Cruisers, Get Ready for the Season

Rod Smith, one of Cumbrae’s Senior Instructors, eagerly anticipates the start of the season and the opportunity to get out from his office and back onto our beautiful cruising waters. “Why wait till the start of the season? Get some practice in now!” Rods inspired enthusiasm has a point. Skills do fade over the winter so why not start the season armed with more confidence and competence? Inside the heated comfort of a motor cruiser the colder winds and temperatures are held at bay outside.

Trader Lady, owned by the Scottish Maritime Sailing Trust (SMST), is a stately 14.8m Trader Motor Yacht, with its 4 cabins, heating system, 2 heads, galley, large saloon, under cover and open deck areas and 2 helming stations, offers comfort regardless of the weather. At Cumbrae we work with the SMST and use Trader Lady for everything from beginners wanting to embark on their new hobby to the highest of RYA Instructor qualifications.

At the end of February she will be used for the delivery of the RYA Yachtmaster Instructor and Cruising Instructor (power) courses. Outwith these Instructor training and revalidation courses Trader Lady is available to deliver tuition to anyone with an interest in Motor Cruising, Ideally suited , she is a great training boat, she has below deck and Fly bridge helming stations to practise on and a bow thruster to add an extra element if desired.

Some people may prefer to learn about handling their own boat in which case Rod is happy to step aboard. In your own marina site specific training can certainly up the confidence levels and add increased relevance and value to the training, for you and your crew.

Wither on your own motor cruiser or ours the learning outcomes that Rod focuses on are the same;

Often seen as a daunting task, I find it is best to only focus on these 6 main factors during a manoeuvre.


Wash – Prop wash can be described as the thrust of water from either bow thruster or main propellers. Depending on whether you have any and the size of rudders, having the helm where you want it before engaging in forwards can help significantly when turning.
Walk – Prop Walk is most obvious when you initially engage in reverse and the propeller(s) walk the back of the boat to one side. If your boat has twin props that rotate in opposing directions you can use them individually to create Walk in the desired direction but if used simultaneously they cancel each other out. This can be useful in tight spaces.
Way – The momentum that your vessel carries is important to know and also what steerage you have when the props are not engaged, which differs depending on what type of drive you have and again the size of any rudders you may or may not have.
Water- The movement of water, generally tide, can drastically change the dynamics. My local port in Dumbarton has significant water movement due to it being in the River Leven which empties Loch Lomond into the sea, and is a great place to try things like ferry gliding.
Wind- Like water this is a changeable factor and often forgotten about in a boat that you helm from below deck where you cannot feel the effects of the wind. Knowing how your vessel is going to react in different situations is well worth knowing.
Warps- Ropes can be used to take the pressure out of tight berthing by setting up springs or lines in advance. It is particularly helpful when short handed. There should be a plan in place well in advance to relieve the stress in the final stages of your manoeuvre.

Thinking of nothing but these 6 W’s is a good way of not cluttering your head with unnecessary details like how expensive that boat you are berthing next to looks! There is usually a way to simplify this further by removing any of the 6 W’s that will have little or no effect on your manoeuvre.

Talking and reading about the intricacies of boat handling is useful. However the best way to accelerate your learning is to have a go and get an experienced Coach to watch you and give you specific and useful feedback. This can be done as informal training or as part of an RYA course from Start Motor Cruising and Helmsman’s through to Yachtmaster prep, on your own boat or if you fancy have a go, on Trader Lady to broaden your knowledge and experience.

Motor Cruising training is available on request by emailing cumbraecentre@sportscotland.org.uk or calling the Cumbrae 01475 530 757. Rod will be happy to help and advise any individuals interested in motor cruising.

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