Prop Walk - 30 degrees to port
Or, “sporty boat handling”.
The Maine lobstermen run their boats up to a working pier at speed (probably significantly more than 5 knots) and at an angle of approach of perhaps 30 degrees, then turn hard to port, heavy throttle astern, and slide the stern into the pier within a boat’s length. (Yes, it leaves the moored boats bobbing in the harbor.)
My own version of that approach was lots of fun and very useful on many occasions, and enabled me to tuck into a space not much more than my boat’s length. It requires an aggressive use of throttle to control and direct momentum, and there is a fine line between “aggressive” and “excessive”. So one needs to develop a feel for the maneuver before putting it to the test.
Several more extreme uses of aggressive reverse throttle include (i) backing in a straight line, and (ii) throwing the stern to port in a hard turn to starboard.
My preferred aggressive backing technique involves short, high acceleration with rudder hard over, followed immediately by returning throttle to idle or even neutral (to eliminate prop walk) and then steering with the rudder while coasting back.
I also found, but did not master, an aggressive level of reverse where the bite of the rudder would neutralize the prop walk effect. Best attempted only with lots of room and no traffic!
In approaching a hard turn to port while slowing in reverse, it is easy to use prop walk to pull the stern around to starboard and sharpen the rate of turn while slowing the boat.
But I also discovered that in doing the same thing turning hard to starboard it was possible to skid the stern to port - at just the right reverse throttle it seemed to “break loose” of the prop walk (possibly due to cavitation). My best use of this was purely accidental - I never actually bothered to learn how to do it at will.
I have been told that my approaches sometimes appear “too fast” but i have never clipped another boat or banged a pier. I have suffered scrapes from unrecognized projecting objects on piers though, and scrapes from other boats tied too loosely astern of me in close quarters.
As venturesome cruisers we did not have a home port and, though we swung at anchor whenever possible, we did encounter endlessly varied docking and mooring conditions.
[Cross-posted from Yahoo #17483]