This article is an excerpt from NauticEd’s online Skipper Large Keelboats Course, a comprehensive online sailing course for beginner to intermediate sailors to learn how to sail large sailboats 26 ft (8m) and above. The Skipper Large Keelboats course is part of the Skipper Course Bundle of online courses, also teaching you how to master maneuvering under power and docking!

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Propeller Entanglement

If there is a sudden slowing or stopping of the engine while motoring it is possible that you have picked up some floating line, hopefully not from your vessel. Should this occur, it is imperative to shut off the engine immediately to prevent overheating, damage to the transmission, or worse! You can test this theory by putting the gear into neutral. If the engine runs normally but then stalls when shifted into gear, more than likely the prop is entangled.

Depending on many factors, especially where this is happening, you need to gain control of the vessel by sailing or anchoring. In a busy harbor, this can be a major problem. Immediately post lookouts to warn other vessels. Call for help on VHF Channel 16 if needed.

If a crew member is capable of diving down to investigate and remove the entangled line with a sharp knife, try it. For precaution, take the keys out of the ignition so there is no possibility of the engine being started should some distraction occur. For this reason, a dive mask and snorkel should be a part of your on-board inventory. Many times you can get lucky by shifting the gear into reverse. Regardless, dive the prop if possible.

The line entanglement problem is too often a reality, especially when anglers, ski boarders, or some commercial fishermen regularly abandon lines.

You can learn more in the Skipper Course....

Knowledge and theory for longer distances and overnight sailing in diverse conditions. The Skipper Course is a comprehensive online sailing course for beginner to intermediate sailors wanting to learn how to sail larger sailboats 26ft to 56ft. Or upgrade to the Skipper Course Bundle of online courses to also master maneuvering under power and docking!

Source: Skipper
Topic: Safety and Emergencies
Authors: Grant Headifen, NauticEd Global Director of Education
NauticEd is a fully recognized education and certification platform for sailing students combining online and on-the-water real instruction (and now VR). NauticEd offers +24 online courses, a free sailor's toolkit that includes 2 free courses, and six ranks of certification – all integrated into NauticEd’s proprietary platform. The USCG and NASBLA recognize NauticEd as having met the established American National Standards.