Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Narragansett Bay
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I can't say I've ever noticed a difference, certainly not one that isn't far overwhelmed by sail selection or trim.
Ironic that you've suggested oohs and ahhs from onlookers, when most criticize them as cheating. Your thread has already solicited some of that sentiment. However, I invite anyone one of them to back my 45,000lb, 54ft boat into its slip with a 15kt crosswind, raised deck and my neighbor about 5 ft off the other side, without one.
I will acknowledge that it shouldn't require non-stop adjustments, which do make it seem like the captain doesn't quite have control. A bit to offset prop walk when getting into reverse, if you don't actually desire the prop walk for the circumstance. Then a bit more to push the bow into the wind and make a nice turn into a crosswind slip, should be all it needs.
That said, I have a friend who swears that, when in reverse, the thruster is now the rudder. He keeps the helm centered and steers with the thruster. Personally, I don't consider that cheating, while it isn't quite my method.
p.s. raise that crosswind to 20+kts and my boat can't be held or turned against the crosswind in reverse, even with the thruster running non-stop.