My first experience in boat and ship handling (other than small traditional sail and motor boat) was with MTBs (Nasty type) with 2 powerful engines and clutches, pneumatic controls and long reaction time. (10-12 sec.)
The rule of thumb was; “Clutch one”: 6 kts. in 12 sec. “Clutch two”: 12 kts. in 6 sec."
To give a short kick in close quarters you had to pull back on the throttle before the engines actually reacted.
Squat could also be a problem if in shallow waters; “Clutch one: 45-50 cm. Clutch two: 60 - 65 cm.”
Also; not allowed to use “one ahead, one astern” simultaneously because it could cause too much differential force on the wooden hull structure. But it was possible to “walk the boat” by making a sharp turn on approach and stop headway with the outboard screw.
Later, as Master on merchant ship the reaction time was dependent on a lot of factors. Standing on the bridge wing shouting engine orders to the 3rd Mate on the telegraph and rudder commands to the Quarter master at the wheel, both sometimes with limited English, was open for delays and misunderstanding. Orders to the Ch. Mate on the bow and 2nd Mate on the stern was also conveyed via the 3rd Mate and by hand cracked voice activated phone, which had the same limitations.
The time it took the Engineers to get the engine from ahead to astern was also a factor that had to be considered. (some Engineers where slower than others) Besides, misfire(s) occurred at times to make things even more interesting.
I have never been Master on any Offshore vessel, but as Rig mover and Tow master I have manoeuvred slotted rigs onto fixed platforms couple of feet narrower than the width of the slot, using 3 x AHTS only (no anchors). Standing on top of the dog house with and old Motorola portable VHF the size of a lunch box, giving heading and power instructions and hoping that the boats were able to execute accordingly.
No fancy navigation gear with real time display showing position to within a foot in the early days. (>1974) Open locations were marked with a single buoy to be positioned in the centre of the slot. Final position was confirmed by a survey boat with Syledis equipment, but only in daylight.(Later by SatNav, interpolating between at least >30 good passes 15 degr. above horizon.
Very different from the later years (>2000) with DGPS based “Barge Management System” giving position and heading of each towing vessel and each leg of the rig, + any obstructions above or below water. I could sit comfortably in the control room with a hand held VHF, giving instructions to the boats and jacking operator based on what I could see on the screen in front of me. (Besides, no more slotted rigs)