Learn how to use that prop walk to your advantage and you will be able to put your boat ANYWHERE you wish. You must learn to turn in the direction that the prop walk determines, and going alongside also.
That is a good point Capta.
The problem I find in my sailing life is that no two vessels are alike in reversing ability.
I started out years ago with a 62' Roberts Ketch with a 6.5' full keel, fixed three blade prop and a big hefty rudder supported by an equally heavy pintal at its foot.
She was a delight and respond to the slightest touch of the wheel and I could (if taken slowly and carefully) reverse the full length of the marina without batting an eyelid. A 3 point turn with her 90 hp turbo diesel and twin disc gearbox was easy and despite her length, I could manoeuvre her bow within a kiss of the wharf to let crew on and off without a problem.
Years later we renovated a 23' deep fin keel cruiser with a hung spade rudder and feathering two blade prop. It turned on a dime but could easily get away from us if we reversed too quickly or didn't reverse at all if we didn't give it a kick first to open the blades.
We then went to Mico with her tiller steering, a big hefty rudder, 4.2' 3/4 length keel and 3 blade feathering prop.
The first time we took her out of the pen I was expecting the same manoeuvrability as our fin keeler. Obviously that was never going to happen and we took out a neighbours rail on their bowsprit. Lesson learnt!
Mico has no prop walk and if we are tender with only small corrections of the tiller, we can reverse with a fair degree of confidence. (after much much practice mind you!)
Australis is still very new to us, long, beamy and much heavier with a full keel, big supported rudder and a 3 blade feathering prop. It's going to take us a while to get her measure and I'm still miscalculating her beam as I take her in (thank gawd for big fenders!)
We've now painted a mark on the middle of the pen so that I can line up our bow and leave enough room for her beam.
But stick her in reverse and her stern will go 3' to starboard while she reverses about a foot back. That can be scary for the uninitiated which we certainly are.
So - here's a challenge for everyone...
Keeping in mind that no two vessels are alike and there are many other influencing factors such as windage etc - what techniques do people use to reverse safely? I would love to learn the art of using 'prop - walk' and would be delighted if someone could outline a step by step approach i.e.
1. With a starboard prop walk, to stay in a straight line, turn wheel 3/4 over to ....?
The great thing about this forum is that there are always heaps of people far more canny than I and I'm always learning heaps for everyone - thanks!
Oh - we're heading back to Borneo and Australis early next month and will take her up to the Phllipines (better learn how to spell it :P) for 8 weeks and then do a slow loop out into the South China Sea back to Kota.