Dual Rudder: Maneuvering Under Power
Part of being a forward-thinking sailing education company includes constantly updating our material as a result of new developments, student feedback, and our own team’s experiences. Because, what’s one of the thousands of benefits of online sailing education? Courses can be updated without publishing an entirely new physical book. In other words, we can make sure that our information is up-to-date and serves our students well.
** Maneuvering Under Power UPDATE to include dual rudder monohulls **
Many newer boats have dual rudders, so we’ve updated our Maneuvering Under Power course to reflect this change. When a monohull sailboat has dual rudders, it will act differently than with a single rudder, so knowing what these differences are and how to manage them will save you a lot of headaches (and will keep you safer).
Ummm do I have a dual rudder monohull?
Don’t confuse dual helms with dual rudders! Dual helms do not necessarily mean dual rudders. You’ll have to either check the actual boat specs to see if it has dual rudders under the water or go for a swim and look!
Tip: This is a good thing to ask about if you’re chartering a sailboat internationally.
What’s the Advantage to a Dual Rudder?
When sailing, a dual rudder configuration offers several advantages over a single rudder. One of the main benefits is the increased rudder surface area in the water, which enhances maneuverability, control, and reduces the tendency to round up into the wind when hit by a gust. Additionally, it can improve the boat’s ability to sail upwind.
However, there is a trade-off: the boat becomes less maneuverable under power and during docking, which is when incidents are more likely to occur.
What is the main difference between maneuvering single or dual rudder monohulls?
Propeller wash over the rudder is a key consideration. In the case of single rudder monohulls, the rudder is positioned directly behind the propeller. As a result, when the boat’s engine is in forward gear, the wash from the propeller flows directly onto the rudder. This enables you to manipulate the boat’s stern in any desired direction without relying on the boat’s speed through the water—just by using the thrust of the prop wash.
With dual rudders, the propeller wash does not flow over the rudder, thus eliminating this maneuvering capability.
The absence of propeller wash makes it challenging to effectively utilize spring lines during docking because you cannot utilize the opposing force vectors between the rudder force generated by the prop wash and the dockline pulling the boat towards the dock.
Virtual Reality Sailing Courses!
One more thing. We’ve launched a virtual reality sailing course that really brings maneuvering under power to life. This is probably one of the sailing education lessons that people are the most hesitant to learn in real life, so we’ve found a way to make the gap between “book” knowledge and experience a little smaller and less intimidating.
Watch our introduction video to practicing in a marina in virtual reality.