J. Pickering

FeatherStream A-Hub 3B


Fitting a feathering propeller to a Beneteau Oceanis 31′ “Atlantis”

Atlantis is now in her third is season. She has a lifting keel, very useful for navigating at her home port in the Beaulieu River, and twin rudders. She came from the factory fitted with a fixed 3-blade propeller and although she has always sailed. and motored reasonably well, I always thought that her performance could be improved.

Following enthusiastic encouragement from Colin Firth and Richard Aubry, I entered Atlantis in the Round the Island Race this year, crewed ably by my family – Belinda and Yvonne and our friends Gilly and Duncan. The entry started me thinking about how to get the best sailing speed out of Atlantis, as the delayed start this year would have kept us sailing into the late evening rather than enjoying a relaxing dinner and drinks with BOA friends at Island Harbour Marina. My conclusion was that changing the fixed propeller to either a feathering or folding model would be the best first step.

I spent a large amount of time researching feathering and folding propellers. There are far more on the market than I was expecting and also a lot of big claims on increased performance. Sadly, though, there are also stories on the internet of these propellers failing to work properly, with some unfortunate examples of yachts running into pontoons and other obstructions because the propellers did not unfeather or unfold when the owners reversed their engines at critical moments. These thoughts definitely held me back if I am honest but I decided to go ahead and make the change during Atlantis’ yearly lift-out in May.

I will not attempt to reproduce boat tests and professional reports here but I decided that a feathering propeller would give the best all-round sailing and motoring performance for Atlantis. I visited both the London and Dusseldorf boat shows and bored Belinda seeing as many of these propellers as I could.

I was particularly impressed by the demonstration that Darglow Engineering gave me in Dusseldorf (yes, I know rather silly to make contact with a company in Wareham, Dorset by travelling out to Germany) and I ended up buying their FeatherStream 16 x 11.5  3-blade propeller.

Their manager Chris was extremely helpful and the DIY fitting instruction videos that he has produced are excellent. I chose to collect the propeller from their factory and when you visit their premises in Wareham it is refreshing to see that people are still doing real quality metal working in Britain.

I fitted the FeatherStream propeller to Atlantis myself and the job was not difficult.

I have been really impressed with her performance since. Darglow say that an increase in sailing speed of 0.5 – 1.0kts is to be expected and Atlantis has been nearer to the 1.0kts. She also has much more power under engine both in forward and reverse, although the port propwalk in reverse has not changed — probably just as well as we lack propwash manoeuvring with twin rudders.

The total cost was about £1,200. I cannot, of course, comment on the long term reliability and performance but I have to say that I am delighted with the results so far.

Beneteau Oceanis 31′ “Atlantis” – FeatherStream 16 x 11.5  3-blade propeller.

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