Seabee Club Intl.
(Some time ago Grant Leonard loaned us an ancient, circa 1946, tattered list of helpful hints on the water operation of a SeaBeast. The author is unknown, possibly deceased, but it is a compilation that could serve as a review for your own seamanship.)
1-Before approaching any type of base, it should be looked over thoroughly by the pilot before he gets in close enough to be hampered by obstructions.
2-A good Seabee sailor knows that if left to its own devices the Seabee will always weathercock and point into the wind. It can always be turned into the wind without difficulty.
3-It is important to remember that although the Seabee, when let alone, will point into the wind, it is highly probable that it will move with the tide if the latter has appreciable velocity. In general, a current of 6 mph will more than offset a wind of 30 mph.
4-In determining wind direction look for wind streaks and remember that seagulls and ducks land into the wind, and the foam or spray from whitecaps appears to move back into the wind.
5-Get in the habit of visually checking your retracted wheels at least twice during your approach and let-down to a water landing.
6-The power stall landing is the only safe landing technique to use when landing the Seabee on glassy water. The power stall landing is also the best technique to use in landing on rough water or when landing at night. Level off your Seabee from 50 to 100 feet above the water and adjust power to maintain 65 IAS with flaps down. This combination will ensure a nose-high attitude and a gradual rate of descent. Allow the airplane to land itself using a slight amount of back pressure on the control wheel. Practice the technique of the power stall landing under normal water conditions until you become an expert.
7-The water rudder is most effective at slow speed - slightly above idling, because it is then working in undisturbed water.
8-In making a downwind turn in a stiff breeze, it may be found that the water rudder does not give sufficient control to force the ship out of the wind at idling speed. This is due to two causes. The first and most obvious is that the ship has a much stronger tendency to weathercock or point into the wind. The second is that the force of the wind may partly or completely offset the push of the propeller, so that the ship has little or no forward speed. When the strength of the wind is such that the ship cannot be turned downwind at idling speed, the wheel should be held back, full rudder applied and the throttle opened enough to bring the nose up. This will put your water rudder down deeper into the water and it will have greater effect. This factor plus power will bring your Seabee around.
9-If the wind is of sufficient strength to render control of the ship difficult, the approach to any ramp should be either directly downwind or directly into the wind making due allowance for tide and current if any exists.
10-If possible, the approach to a raft or float should always be made into the wind for more complete control.
11-Always check the operation of your reversible prop before getting close to a dock.
12-When beaching your Seabee, if there is any doubt about the solidity of the beach, the wheels should be left up and the ship brought in on the keel.
13-Remember the tides when beaching your Seabee-
a) If the tide is low when your Seabee is beached remember the water will be coming in and you may have to get your feet wet to get to it later.
b) If the tide is high when your Seabee is beached, remember the water will be going out and your Seabee may be left high and dry.
14-Approach to a beach with wheels down should be made at an angle.
a) This prevents both wheels from getting stuck if the beach is soft.
b) This keeps one wheel in the water and usually off the bottom, thereby making it easier to back off the beach.
15-Descent from a ramp of more than 15 should be made backwards. Put the prop in reverse and slowly back your Seabee down the ramp. This will prevent damage to your water rudder.
16-When approaching a dock or float solo, the following procedure should be followed:
a) Open and secure the bow door.
b) Remove and secure right hand control wheel.
c) Sitting in the right hand seat, set throttle at about 1000 rpm and use (only) the reverse prop control and rudders during approach.
17-The following procedure should be used when anchoring the Seabee:
a) Remove and secure right hand control wheel, and secure (temporarily) looped end
of anchorline over rudder pedal.
b) Pay out anchor until it bottoms and note amount of line, indicating depth. Pay out
at least five times that amount for proper scope and security of anchor holding. (In
strong wind, 15 knots or more, pay out at least seven times the depth.)
c) Secure line to bow cleat and clear excess line from obstructing bow door egress.
d) Slowly back away until you’re certain that your anchor will hold, then stop the engine.
e) Make certain that your anchor is not dragging and your Seabee is not drifting.
18-Getting your Seabee on the step:
The procedure employed in putting the Seabee on the step consists of holding the controls hard back and opening the throttle completely. The wheel is held hard back until the nose refuses to go up higher and then is allowed to ease forward to a point slightly back of neutral, but still holding the back pressure. As the Seabee rocks over on the step it assumes an approximately level, planing, position and the speed increases rapidly.
a) In case your Seabee shows a tendency to porpoise, or rock fore and aft, the porpoising may be checked by increasing the back pressure.
b) Alternatively, set your trim tab in the full back position (tail heavy), and the Seabee will take off hands-off. Pilot can hold the water-run straight with the rudders. Upon breaking water, immediately re-trim for climb. (Remember that the Seabee is a “trim tab ship”.)
19-Once on the step the Seabee will fly itself off with only slight back pressure maintained on the control wheel. Do not attempt to pull the Seabee off BEFORE proper speed is attained or the stern will be pushed deeper into the water, increasing the drag tremendously, so that instead of taking off, she slows down.
20-When difficulty is encountered in getting on the step on a hot sultry day with no wind, and under glassy water conditions, the following procedure should be followed:
Open the throttle, and when the nose has risen as high as it will go with the controls hard back, push the nose down by abruptly moving the wheel forward. The nose will then drop if the ship has picked up enough speed to be partly “on the step”, and if the wheel is well forward, will come back up slightly, or rebound slightly. This rebound should be caught by pulling the wheel back again, and as soon as the nose reaches its maximum elevation, the entire routine should be repeated. After several repetitions, the nose should go higher each time and the speed increases.
If the wheel is then pushed well ahead and held there, she will slowly flatten out on the step, and the controls may be eased back to neutral. If, after a reasonable run, the ship shows no further increase of speed, and does not take off in the normal manner with a slight back pressure, the wheel should be pulled back abruptly, and the plane practically yanked out of the water. This maneuver constitutes a “stall take-off” and if she is either leveled out too soon, or pulled up too much, it will settle back into the water, so the maneuver should be handled carefully.
21-Whenever the water is glassy, the chances of getting off the water without too much difficulty are improved if there are any boats moving around so that takeoff can be made in their wake, provided the Seabee is not too heavy. Sometimes, when everything else fails, it may be possible to disturb the water enough by getting “on the step” and making a large circle so that you can take off in your own wake.
22-In a strong current, and absolutely no wind, the takeoff will be easier if made WITH the current. If there is enough wind to make the ship weathercock, a light current should be ignored and the takeoff made INTO the wind.
23-To take off in rough water the throttle should be opened rapidly and the wheel pulled hard back just as the nose is rising on a wave. Keep the bow well up. After the Seabee is on the step, she will begin to bounce from crest to crest. Each time she bounces the nose will go up. As the nose goes up, the wheel should be eased off to prevent stalling, and then back pressure just before striking the next wave. Fortunately, if there is enough wind to make the water that rough, there is enough wind to get the ship into the air quickly.
24-Never take off across a boat’s heavy wake.
25-Seabees operated in saltwater should be washed thoroughly afterward with fresh water, both to lessen corrosion and to remove the dried salt, which will attack the surfaces, inside and out.
a) Remember to remove all seven drain plugs to check for water, indicating a possible leak.
b) Remember that she is a Flying Boat - exercise the same pride and care a boat owner should, and keep your Seabee shipshape!
(If anyone recognizes the source of the above treatise, we’d sure like to know who and when, to give proper credit. Thanks, the Seabee Club Int’l.)
Editor’s note: there are several other helpful hints which include using the open, and secured, bow door as a “sail”, ahead of the pivot point, to counteract the big sail (tail) in back while taxiing in a crosswind. Ground or water. Also, before moving in reverse, ground or water, check clearance behind before moving, with flaps UP.
Steering while backing up: to steer left, for example, push left rudder, just as when taxiing forward.
Taxiing with much greater control in close quarters in the water can easily be accomplished by putting the gear down. All motion in the water is slowed considerably. (Don’t forget though, that a water takeoff with gear down is an exercise in futility. I’ve heard of it being tried, though, in Seattle. Very embarrassing!)
Referring to item #15 in the SEAMANSHIP treatise on page 2, “Descent from a ramp of more than 15 - -”, if you have a choice, going down a ramp nose first is much safer, and will certainly protect the water rudder better. But before you release the brakes to do so, put the prop in reverse and use that for braking also. The wheel brakes are not effective enough even if they were not still wet from going UP the ramp.
Another water operation caveat: don’t do crosswind landings. An approach to a cross wind landing implies being cross-controlled. Think about the position of your water rudder in a cross-controlled configuration. For example, you’re correcting for a left crosswind, you’ve got the left wing down and holding some right rudder. If you hold that combination to touchdown think of the position of your water rudder. It’s matching your air rudder. Visualize the water rudder post, and the water rudder area AHEAD of that pivot point, and all of the water force pushing the tail to the LEFT. If the force is enough - instant water loop to the right. Happened to a Club member not long ago. The voice of experience.
If the lower forward corner was cut off, at a 45 angle, about 2” on each edge from that corner, that would considerably lessen the impact force ahead of the post.
Fortunately there are very few occasions that necessitate a crosswind water landing.
HAPPY LANDINGS TO ALL OF YOU!!!