Docking a Twin Stern Drive

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Uplate, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. Uplate

    Uplate New Member

    Oct 13, 2008
    Nashville, TN. Percy Priest Lake
    1998 Sea Ray Sundancer 310
    Westebeke 4KW Generator
    Twin 5.7 Mercruiser Carbuerated.
    Alpha 1 Drives
    First of all, I would like to thank all of you other owners of these twin stern drives for the advice on trimming in another thread. I have learned a lot from this.

    So can we discuss docking?

    Probably as most of you, I back into the slip. I have tried two different methods of manuevering around the dock.

    1. Outdrives left in neutral position and operate similar to a v drive set up. Controlling props only via transmission. I find this somewhat limited in precise control.

    2. A combination of steering outdrives and also using differential action on the controls. I find this highly manueverable, but get confused with current postion of outdrives. I have seen meters that go into the steering hub that show the angle and also have been suggested a thin line of tape on "top Dead Center" on the steering wheel.

    Would like to hear how you other Sterndrivers pilot/learned yours around the dock. Maybe having bought V drives would have made things simpler:huh:
  2. Carpedmman

    Carpedmman Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Portland, OR
    2003 460 Sundancer
    Custom Cockpit interior, Cockpit AC/Heat & Thruster.
    Cummings 480CE,
    Hello Mike-
    Merry Christmas...
    I personally have always used option 1. I find the spot where both drives are straight and then use the transmissions to adjust from there. I have tried spinning the wheel for adjustments but it always confused me even after 600 running hours and 300+ dockings!
  3. tdappleman

    tdappleman Active Member

    Dec 17, 2007
    Kill Devil Hills, NC
    1996 270 Sundancer
    New twin 4.3's - 235hp each with Alpha 1 Gen 2 Drives
    I mainly use option 1 - I do use the wheel for small inputs but it is very easy to lose your position.
  4. Stray Cat

    Stray Cat Active Member TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Pool 10 Guttenberg, IA
    2006 300DA Sundancer
    350 Mags / Bravo III
    Option 2 for me....I found that I have more control of the boat with this method. To back to port, about a half to 3/4 turn of the wheel to port, then shift the stbd drive to reverse while the port is in N (no throttle, just at idle) I don't leave the stbd drive in R for very long, just enough to get the bow and stern to align with the slip. It may take a couple of shifts to R with the stbd drive. Once things are in line, I straighten the wheel (as close to center as possible) and use the port drive to cancel any bow swing the boat may have from using the stbd drive while backing with the wheel turned to port. I keep track of how the drives are positioned by watching the response to the stern while backing down on the slip. After you do it 100's of times, you get on to it.

    As I understand, the meter that goes in the hub only works if the steering wheel is in a verticle position. The NASCAR tape method may not work because the wheel can turn multiple rounds resulting in a tape position that still has the drive turned. I just keep track of where center is by going hard over to one side then count back the turns needed to center.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2008
  5. MExcelsior

    MExcelsior Member

    Oct 23, 2006
    2007 310 SeaRay DA
    Twin 6.2 MPI Bravo III
    I use a combination of 1-pivoting and 2-steering when docking. While docking, option 1 is for very slight and precise maneuvering and when you need to control the position of your bow within a confined area. Obviously pivoting a V-Drive is easier than sterns. Also, I docked a friends boat with Twin-Bravo IIIs and they really grab/bite beautifully and would probably be using "transmission" only with his setup. I have found that the Twin Alphas 4.3 need a bit of steering control at least with our 280. Just shifting into gear to pivot is certainly not going to get you into position quickly especially with any wind. To get them to grab a bit better, you almost need to use throttle outside of just idle forward/reverse. Unfortunately, the controls just aren't ergonomically setup for this (single lever throttles vs. dual lever) and the throttle response isn't as exact as I would like. I would love for Merc to come up with a way to add DTS (Digital Throttle) on 4.3s.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2008
  6. StressAweigh

    StressAweigh New Member

    Jan 11, 2008
    Kent Narrows Maryland
    1997 290 DA
    Twin 4.3 Mercruiser
    I use option 1 all the time. In fact most of the time I take the boat all the way out of the marina with out touching the wheel.
  7. rondds

    rondds Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Oct 3, 2006
    Jersey Shore
    2001 380DA
    Merc 8.1s (2008)...Hurth ZF 63 V-drives...WB 7.0 BCGD (2013), Garmin 8208 & 740 MFDs, GMR 24xHD dome
    Probably no wrong answer to this one, unless it was inboards, in which case you dont touch the wheel. With outdrives at least you have directional thrust so using the wheel will accomplish something, if you can keep track of where the wheel is. To each his own.
  8. Uplate

    Uplate New Member

    Oct 13, 2008
    Nashville, TN. Percy Priest Lake
    1998 Sea Ray Sundancer 310
    Westebeke 4KW Generator
    Twin 5.7 Mercruiser Carbuerated.
    Alpha 1 Drives
    Thanks everybody for taking the time to share your techniques.

    I have been trying #1 mostly, but do need to grab the wheel now and then.

    Agree that the Nascar tape would only work when not going past 360. I am not sure howm many revs it takes to go from neutral to full lock on on side. I will check this out next time I am out on the boat.

    Hopefully by the time it gets crazy next summer I will have all of this dialed in!

    Merry Christmas.
  9. keokie

    keokie Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2006
    2002 310 Sundancer, Westerbeke 4.5 Genset
    496's, Bravo III's, 2.2:1 Gears
    My 310 has only 3 turns from lock to lock. I simply go hard over and 1.5 turns back to center.

    Most of the time I don't use the wheel. The pivot point is just ahead of the swim platform. This helps to swing the bow a bit like a poors man's thruster. If I need to swing the stern, I use the wheel.
  10. douglee25

    douglee25 Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Dallas, TX
    Cruisers 3575
    Twin 7.4l
    Twin 7.4l
    I hear many say 'If you have V-drives, don't touch the wheel', and while this may be true for most conditions, it's not true all of the time. There are plenty of times where using the rudder will pull the stern of the boat more quickly towards or away from the dock vs. just using the controls. If you were leaving the dock and needed to kick the stern out quickly, turn hard towards the dock, and put one stick in forward, and one in reverse. You will get much more response this way vs. without using rudder input.

    Concerning the sterndrive setup, again, use steering input. Why would you limit yourself if you have another 'tool in your bag' to help you in situations where you might need it? There's no reason not to.

  11. Kameroo

    Kameroo Member

    Feb 1, 2007
    Louisville, KY
    12' Kayaks
    I had the same setup on my 280. You can get a big shot in the right direction by turning the wheel (drives), so why wouldn't you use them? Doesn't help much backing, however. I'd recommend counting the number of turns when you turn the wheel so you can get back to center easily. Leaving the marina, I would turn the wheel vs. turn by shifting to minimize the cycles on the shift cables. Like anything else, they won't last forever, so why shift excessively?

    As for never touching the wheel w.r.t. inboards, why not? The rudders with waterflow across them provide one more trick from your toolkit to kick the stern around.

    Back to Christmas...
  12. rondds

    rondds Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Oct 3, 2006
    Jersey Shore
    2001 380DA
    Merc 8.1s (2008)...Hurth ZF 63 V-drives...WB 7.0 BCGD (2013), Garmin 8208 & 740 MFDs, GMR 24xHD dome
    You only need to try steering into a fairway or slip once with a larger Searay (esp one with lotsa wind resistance) with its wonderful prop pockets. After you exchange insurance information with all the boats you took out along the way, you will make a note to yourself to never touch the wheel again.
  13. Kameroo

    Kameroo Member

    Feb 1, 2007
    Louisville, KY
    12' Kayaks
    Regarding minimizing shifting, I was talking about with sterndrives.

    Whatever works for you. Grew up docking the folks 300 and 340 with the pockets in a current on the Beaver River.

    Last edited: Dec 24, 2008
  14. Uplate

    Uplate New Member

    Oct 13, 2008
    Nashville, TN. Percy Priest Lake
    1998 Sea Ray Sundancer 310
    Westebeke 4KW Generator
    Twin 5.7 Mercruiser Carbuerated.
    Alpha 1 Drives
  15. Presentation

    Presentation Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 3, 2006
    Wisconsin - Winnebago Pool chain of lakes
    280 Sundancer, Westerbeke MPV generator
    twin 5.0's w/BIII drives
    >>>> Sarcasm on <<<<

    Someone should make a video that demonstrates how to pivot a boat with twin outdrives.

    I wonder where the pivot point would be.

    >>>> Sarcasm off <<<<
  16. Turtlesboat

    Turtlesboat Minister of Media TECHNICAL Contributor

    Feb 4, 2007
    New York City
    1996 450DA, TNT, Caribe dink w/15hp OB.
    3126 427HP TD transmissions
    not the pivot point again.
  17. skolbe

    skolbe Active Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    320 Sundancer, Mercury 310 Sport Inflatable Tohatsu 6HP
    350 Mag V-Drive - Kohler 5ecd
    After driving my 320 with v's and my dad's amberjack with bravo III's. With outdrives - it seems as if a touch of the wheel seems to help.
  18. Alex F

    Alex F Well-Known Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    East Coast
    2005 420DB with AB 11 DLX Tender, Raymarine Dual E120 MFD/Radar/XMWeather, ST7001 A/P, AIS, SeaLift
    T-Cummins 450Cs Straight-Drives, 9KW Onan Generator, 40HP Yamaha for tender.
    My method is, when approaching my slip from the last turn entering the area I make sure my wheal is straight. Then I only use throttles to back her in to the slip. However, when I leave the slip I help with the wheal to make sharp turn and swing the stern. In this case operating the wheal helps making the turn quicker and I don’t have to shift the gears too many times.

    I would suggest using option 1 as your basic technique. Then, as you get comfortable and know that you can back her is with out issues try experimenting with the wheal. This way if you get confused, you know that your plan “B” is the option 1 and you can use it if anything.
  19. comsnark

    comsnark New Member

    Apr 10, 2007
    NJ Shore
    SeaRay SunSport
    With my outdrives, I normally dock parrellel to a bulkhead. Once I do my final spin towards home. . .I stop using the wheel. I have a very high success rate.

    Going backwards into slips. . the &$#@@ boat doesn't go straight! Going straight forward vs backwards have different wheel positions! Most annoying.
  20. Maxiestaxi

    Maxiestaxi New Member

    Dec 20, 2008
    Pensacola, Fl
    300 Sundancer 1995
    350 Alpha I gen II
    I use method 1 most of the time, however some windy or fast current situations I use both, when using the steering I find small adj (1/2 to 3/4 turn ) works best for me. Throttle adjustments need to be gentle and smooth.:thumbsup:

Share This Page

Show Sidebar