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Jason, Marine Mechanic
Category: Boat
Satisfied Customers: 15914
Experience:  Degree in Marine Technology. Gas and diesel marine mechanic.
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I own a 1999, 28 foot Bayliner Ciera 2859 with a single Mercruiser

Resolved Question:

I own a 1999, 28 foot Bayliner Ciera 2859 with a single Mercruiser bravo 2 powered by a 5.7L Mercruiser engine. The boat is practically unhandelable at slow speeds in the canals that we frequent almost constantly. We are on the Erie Canal System and will be doing the Rideau and Trent Severn in Canada and want to have more control. This is even worse when trying to dock in an aft in situation. Do you have any help in overcoming this handling issue. Of coure we are good an cruiding speeds, but we have to maintain no wake or 5 knots in the canal systems.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Boat
Expert:  Jason replied 5 years ago.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be helping you today. Most questions will involve troubleshooting, and usually take many posts back and forth. Post back with questions as needed.


The problem you have here is that it is a bigger boat and you only have 1 single prop engine. All single screw(prop) larger boats are hard to handle at low speeds because the sterndrive is the rudder, and it the rudder has very little input to affect the boats steering at low speed. It is not a problem or a design defect of the drive. It is the design of the boat.


I'm in SW Florida where everything is canals down here is well before you get out to the open Gulf. I have 2 boats, an 18 foot with a single outboard. That isn't a problem to handle because it is so small. But I also have a 38 with twin inboards and a bow thruster. Thats not to bad becuase I have twin counter rotating props, along with the bow thruster. I can pull it in parallel to a dock, and walk it in sideways with the twin screws and the bow thruster.


At the same time, as a mechanic I frequently take boats out for test drives. The worst are single screw inboards (not sterndrive). They wander so much all over the place that those boats can be impossible to get out of the canals on a windy day. If the boat gets blown to the side it is pretty much impossle to correct. All you can do is a hard reverse, pull it backwards. And then try again forwards.


The problem is the design of the boats. All larger single screw wether it is inboard or sterndrives handle terriblely in tight quarters. Those boats are really not designed to be operated in tight canals unless you are very very good. Even then, when you get off course all you can do is a hard reverse and then go back into forward to try to line things up again.


Now for you there are only a couple fo things that will help.

1. Lots and lots of practice, and that is free except for the fuel you burn.

2. Changing the Bravo 2 drive for a Bravo 3 drive. The bravo 3 has twin counter rotating propellers and has much much better low end thrust than the bravo 2 does. And that will give you much better low speed steering.

3. Adding a bowthruster, that will help as well. At low speed if the bow steers in the wrong direction you can use the thruster to push it in the opposite direction.


That is really it. It is the design of the boat being so large and only having a single prop that makes it hard to steer.


Feel free to post back with questions

Good luck!


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I have found an add on for stern drive and outboards in Europe and Australia that is called a Rudder Safe that adds 2 rudder plates to the sides of the out drive and claims to assist significantly with low speed handling. This makes some sense. Any comments?
Expert:  Jason replied 5 years ago.

I've never heard of that product before, so I did have to go and look it up. Looks interesting. And certainly looks like it would work, or at least help. And it is certainly alot cheaper than a bow thruster or Bravo 3 drive.


Now in my original answer I did say " All single screw(prop) larger boats are hard to handle at low speeds because the sterndrive is the rudder, and it the rudder has very little input to affect the boats steering at low speed".

This ruddersafe product seems to correct for that, that lack of rudder input at low speeds.


I would certainly give it a shot. They look to be a New Zealand company, and new, which is probably why I have not seen them in SW Florida yet. But it certainly looks like it would help with the low speed handling.


Post back with questions

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