Very good thread, with lots of good suggestions. When all is said and done, I think that it boils down to:
- the boat, and it's handling characteristics.
- the technique used.
- the characteristics of the propellor.
My dock buddy swears that his Ericsson 30 will not back up under any circumstances. I think that most posters on this thread would disagree with that, and I do too.
Prior to taking the Basic Instructors clinic 13 years ago, backing boats was a nightmare for me. I might get away with backing the club's Cal 20, but there was no way I could back a Catalina 27.
I managed to get through most of the clinic, right up to the final practical on a Catalina 320. To put it kindly, I was not having a good day. Then, David West, our evaluator, showed me a trick that turned me into a very happy camper. It is real simple:
- Put the boat in full speed reverse, UNTIL you feel the boat moving in the direction that you want.
- THEN throttle back to the desired speed and back up happily into the sunset!
I have never had a bad docking experience since. In fact, the wharfinger at Powell River loves us. BC members of SN may know that transient moorage at Powell River often involves rafting up in tight quarters. I will cheerfully back boats into those slips all day.
I don't want to knock the advantages of prop walk. In fact, since buying our own boat, I take full advantage of the limited prop walk that our Kiwi prop has. However, you probably won't appreciate the advantages of prop walk if backing the boat scares the crap out of you.
Meanwhile, thanks to all for an enjoyable, informative thread.