Any way to deal with using reverse on 27' OB version?


Member I
Seems like the tiller is useless with a 27' OB in cutout at stern. Almost lose all control when in reverse. Can anything redone about this?


Member II
I also have a 27 with outboard! I've learned that unless you've acquired a significant reverse speed to obtain steerage, you will not go where you want or think you would. I use the tiller as a deflector plate to move the bow when no steerage is possible or available. Short strong burst of power in reverse with tiller handle hard to port will nudge the stern to starboard and pivot the bow to port. The Bow seems to move a greater distance than the stern. Opposite when tiller to starboard. Practice, practice, practice and I'm still no good at it. I've many times just walked Emgee backwards out of a slip and boarded over the bow rail at the last minute after nearly clear of dock! Somewhat unorthodox but seems to cause less wear on hull and dock parts! When visiting other marinas I always look to come alongside for docking where I can approach under forward power only, and avoid slips like avoiding potholes in my car.


Member III
in reverse i turn the outboard and tiller together. My E25 has a stern hung rudder so its not too hard to reach both.

Your outboard sits on the centerline of the boat?


Member I
From the ASA:
Operating in reverse
"Whenever you want a sailboat to move backward you must have a firm hand on the tiller. Now, you effectively have two helms to control so, if steering with the outboard have someone hold the boats tiller so the rudder is fore and aft (Tiller tamer)
Using an outboard, when starting from a full stop, you can turn the motor so the prop wash pushes the stern in the direction you want it to go.
As a rule sailboats are not happy moving stern first. If you have to go astern, do so slowly as you can while maintaining steering control and for a short a distance as possible."

I also have an E27 with an outboard I have always left the outboard locked fore and aft and only used the ship's tiller/rudder to back out of my finger pier. There have been some "hairy" moments but I always manage. I have found out that short bursts of power helps. Once I could not get turned in time and I had to back out all the way out of the harbor. I may try using both the boat tiller and engine tiller but that's easier said then done.

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Blogs Author
Inboards share some characteristics--plus powerful prop walk. Manhandling the boat out of a slip--that is, pointing it in the right direct before the engine is engaged in reverse--remains effective, but for some reason seldom practiced nowadays.

Sternway is required before the rudder will work on any boat, and only limited corrections made so the rudder doesnt stall.

I once had an outboard on a stern bracket and could steer effectively in reverse with the outboard handle. But I had to lash the tiller amidships so it didn;t slam over.

I continue to believe in , and to practice, manually guiding the boat out of the slip backwards and turning it in the desired direction before engaging reverse. Even on a 38 that can be sticky business in a narrow fairway. The key is to gently achieve sternway so the rudder works--without using so much power that prop walk propels the boat sideways and into a helpless position.

Anyhow, you have plenty of company. We were not really meant to go backwards.


Member II
The cutout on my stern has no clearance for turning the outboard to a useful angle, at most 5 degrees from center. I purchased an outboard bracket to position the motor further out to solve this but after reading a few posts on a different thread of this site, and seeing how my boat reacts to swells approaching from stern, (imagine a submerged motor) I chose to cancel that project and learned to manage as best I can.
I agree with Guzzisailor that short bursts of power are key. If you can achieve enough sternway for steerage and then neutral your prop you will find some degree of control with the rudder. My favorite place to practice this is out in the mooring field when most boats are gone sailing:)

G Kiba

Member III
Totally agree with you. After owning an E27, Tiller, Outboard combo for 18 years. You summed up exactly what i have learned about going in reverse and not doing to the outboard bracket is also the best move. The motor is just too heavy and takes away from the boats looks. Not worth it.
dofthesea: Get the boat moving in reverse and let off the throttle to steer. Use the inertia of the boat. Resistance is futile and you will just have to deal with it. The good news- If you ever or when you move up to an inboard, you will be surprised how well you can do reverse. Also I positioned the motor in the cutout to one side so I could turn the motor about 5 degrees to the left. Then when going into a tight spot, planned on doing left turns whenever possible.


Member III
My 27 is an inboard but the experience is the same. And after years of practicing, I'm convinced that only when the elements (wind and current) are optimized to help me can I reverse and hold course for any distance in reverse (and short distances). But thru experts here and lots of practice I can do a 360 in place pretty confidently. (Note: this is a big deal to me as someone who bought their first boat at age 50)

On exiting and entering the slip....My slip entry is a port turn in. My finger pier is on the port side. Prevailing winds are from the east, which in my case is one more thing working against me. So...

90% of the time I spring out of my slip with a line tied permanently to a piling on my rear stbd quarter. Run it around my stern cleat and gig it ocassionally to keep me straight out the slip. No matter the wind or current I can over power the elements and once my bow is clear I make the pivot and head out. Returning home, though, is often a rodeo. But I've strung additional lines to protect my neighbor. (I almost always sail solo).

The other 10% of the time when the elements are more in my favor, I walk the boat out halfway, give it a hard push in the needed direction and hop on (and pray)


Member III
While I was in process of swapping engines on Silver Maiden I had a 35 lb thrust trolling motor fixed to the stern. I found mostly I had to handle the boat like a super tanker, meaning I had to be well ahead of the boat no matter if I was in forward or reverse.

I did find he E-27 had an advantage over the supertanker in that I could SKUL the stern around a bit with an energetic swing of the rudder in one direction followed by returning to neutral rudder placement gently. If you are tiller steered give that a try.

I find many pleasure boaters count on the fairly high power to mass ratio too much and both approach and leave the dock way too fast "knowing" they can just use the power to correct, then they have an engine fail and OOPS.

My vessel maneuvering professor used to say if you can see the speed of your approach to the dock you are going too fast.


Member III
Ages ago when I taught sailing (using Ericsons by the way) we developed the technique below:

Don't try to maneuver backwards with the throttle wide open.
Burst the throttle wide open for 5 to 10 seconds, which should get you to around 2 knots ~ 3 feet/sec.
Then coast for 20sec = around two boat lengths.
If you are not far enough out, give the throttle another 3 or 4 second burst.

Not foolproof. And requires practice.
Find some water with sea room on a nice day, throw something that floats (a cushion or empty anti-freeze jug) over the side and practice stopping at it fwd, back, from left and from right. This is by the way part of a man overboard drill, picking up a mooring, dropping your anchor exactly where you want it, and retrieving your Tilley hat.

Also, try it completely under sail.



Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
We had a port tie finger and with motor turned slightly and tiller slightly over the prop walk and tiller combo would turn the boat nicely. However, with current and opposing wind it could get a little hairy. But you have to really hang onto the tiller the propwash will rip it out of your hands if you're not paying attention. Crew with fenders and boathooks while you practice...