PBO reader Nicko Williams is considering upgrading his boat to feathering propellers - our boatbuilding expert Tony Davies has this advice…


Nicko Williams asks: “I wonder what your views are on folding versus feathering boat propellers.

“My Jeanneau 379 carries a three-bladed prop which does its job perfectly satisfactorily but it looks so large out of the water that I can’t help feeling I could improve sailing performance markedly with a folding or feathering propeller.

PBO boatbuilding expert Tony Davies replies: “In my experience a feathering propeller should give nearly the same performance as your fixed blade prop, and a folding prop won’t be far behind.

“Don’t be tempted by a two-bladed prop as you’ll definitely lose a lot of thrust and performance will suffer.

“I had a three-blade Volvo folding prop on the wing engine of a motor cruiser some years ago and this gave remarkable performance compared with the two-blade prop I previously had fitted.

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“You’ll not lose enough motoring performance to worry about, but the increase in sailing performance will be noticeable and will also reduce wear on the gearbox if you currently let the prop freewheel when sailing. If you have a shaft brake then this will become redundant.

“There’s a fairly wide choice of folding and feathering propellers – the biggest difference being price – but I’d consider it money well spent.”

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This feature appeared in the June 2022 edition of Practical Boat Owner. For more articles like this, including DIY, money-saving advice, great boat projects, expert tips and ways to improve your boat’s performance, take out a magazine subscription to Britain’s best-selling boating magazine.

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