Republic Seabee Seamanship



Water taxiing and Docking

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. The direction of the wind and tide or current, if any, should be studied and the probable effect determined. Be alert for floating debris. While circling, plan your approach to the dock, ramp, float or beach below.

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.

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 m.p.h. will more than offset a wind of 30 mph.

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.

Get in the habit of visually checking your retracted wheels at least twice during your approach and let down to a water landing.

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.

The water rudder is most effective at slow speed - slightly above idling- because it is then working in undisturbed water.

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.

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.

If possible, the approach to a raft or float should always be made into the wind for more complete control.

Always check the operation of your reversible prop before getting close to a dock.

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.

Remember the tides when beaching your Seabee:

  • 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.

  • 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.

Approach to a beach with wheels down should be made at an angle.

  • This prevents both wheels from getting stuck if the beach is soft.

  • This keeps one wheel in the water and usually off the bottom, thereby making it easier to back off the beach.

Descent from a ramp of more than 15º 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.

When approaching a dock or float solo, the following procedure should be followed:

  • Open and secure the bow door.

  • Remove and secure right hand control wheel.

  • Sitting in the right hand seat, set throttle at about 1000 rpm and use (only) the reverse prop control and rudders during approach.

The following procedure should be used when anchoring the Seabee:

  • Remove and secure right hand control wheel.

  • Let out anchor until it hits bottom – hold Seabee stationary with reverse prop control.

  • Secure line to bow cleat and secure excess line to rudder bar.

  • Slowly back away until you’re certain that your anchor will hold, then stop cut your engine.

  • This will make certain that your anchor is not dragging and your Seabee is not drifting from position.


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. As the Seabee rocks over on the step, it assumes an approximately level position and the speed increases rapidly.

  • In case your Seabee shows a tendency to porpoise or rock fore and aft, the rocking may be checked by increasing the back pressure.

  • 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.

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 back into the water and the drag is thus increased, so instead of taking off, the ship slows down.

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 then if the controls are well ahead, will come back up slightly, or rebound a little. This rebound should be caught by pulling the control column back again and as soon as the nose has reached its maximum elevation, the whole routine should be repeated. After several repetitions, the nose goes higher each time and the speed increases. If the column is then pushed well ahead and held there, the ship 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 under a slight back pressure on the controls, 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 drop back into the water, so it should be handled carefully.

Whenever the water is glassy, the chances of getting off the water without too much difficulty are improved if there are small boats moving around so that takeoff can be made across their wake, provided the ship is not too heavy. Sometimes when everything else fails it may be possible to disturb the water enough by taxiing in a large circle and taking off across one’s own wake.

If there is a strong current and absolutely no wind, the take-off 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.

To take off in rough water the throttle should be opened and the controls held hard back just as the nose is rising on a wave. Keep the bow well up. After the Seabee is on the step, the ship will begin to bounce from crest to crest. Each time she bounces the nose will go up. As the nose goes up, the control wheel should be eased ahead to prevent the stall, and pulled back again 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.

Never take off after a boat has passed and left heavy swells in it’s wake.



Seabees operated in salt water should be washed thoroughly with fresh water from a hose everyday they are used, both to lessen corrosion and to remove the dried salt which spoils the appearance and ultimately attacks the finish.

  • Remember to remove each drain plug and check for water in your Seabee after each day of water operation. Don’t forget to remove the two plugs in the tail wheel compartment and check for water after a heavy rain.

  • Remember you own a flying boat – exercise the same pride and care of a boat owner and keep your Seabee shipshape!

[From RAC Seabee Distributor Bulletin No. 45 - 15 Aug 1947]


Updated: 2011-01-23

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© 2006-2011 Steinar Saevdal