First, a declaration of interest: I have a bow thruster and appreciate it. Windage is a problem. Still, three separate memories prompted my question:
1. I happened across a debate on a design forum where a gaggle of folk ganged up on a single guy defending canting keels. The gist of the argument was that power-assisted canting, a la Volvo Ocean Race, was an abomination and treason against the “purity” of sailing. The guy who argued that canting keels should be welcome as technical progress was shouted down. Sailors should use the wind and no more, with a tiny concession to electronic navigation. One argued that the VO is not a “sailing race.” I was amazed at how vitriolic the opponents were, and wondered if the purist ethos is still alive.
2. A few weeks ago, I was docking in a nasty side wind. My crew said “we have to use a spring” and I was both pleased and surprised, realizing I had not heard the suggestion for several years. It had not even occurred to him to use the bow thruster; he knew the old and tried techniques.
3. In the harbors I often use, it never ceases to amaze when boats come in during sunny still weather, heading for a longside wharf with oodles of free space, and painfully maneuver their way using the bow thruster. It made me wonder what they do when it fails one day.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than a vague sense that guys running their unassisted single-screw get to learn their boat a whole lot more intimately?