PassageMaker

Prop Walk

Prop walk, also known as paddlewheel effect or asymmetric blade thrust, is the tendency of a propeller to push a boat’s stern sideways. It’s most noticeable in reverse on single-screw vessels, and it can make close-quarters maneuvering, including docking, a daunting challenge.

Or, prop walk can become your ally, giving you absolute control when it matters most. The trick is to understand it, plan for it and make it work for you.

Prop walk is a result of the angle of the propeller to the water’s surface. If the prop is not perfectly perpendicular—if the shaft is angled slightly downward, as most are—then the cylindrical distance that the propeller blades travel on their upstroke is greater than on their downstroke. As a result, the upstroke pushes more water, generating greater thrust on that side. Coupled with lateral deflection off the hull, this effect pushes the boat’s stern sideways, pivoting the vessel around a point about one-third abaft the bow.

Slow speeds and high rpm amplify prop walk, as do greater propeller

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