To back water

Related to To back water: Black Water
(Naut.) to reverse the action of the oars, paddles, or propeller, so as to force the boat or ship backward.

See also: Back

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by G. & C. Merriam Co.
References in classic literature ?
Where the mangroves ceased, and where high ground and a beaten runway came down to the water's edge, Van Horn motioned the rowers to back water and lay on their oars.