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Old 04-14-2019, 05:35 PM   #1
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Bow or Stern Thruster?

To all owners of 40-foot+/- single-screw trawlers, who have experience using either bow or stern thrusers:

If you had your choice between two nearly identical boats, one with a bow thruster (only) and the other with a stern thruster (only), which would you choose?

What are the advantages of having a bow thruster over having a stern thruster?

What are the advantages of having a stern thruster over having a bow thruster?

Thank you in advance for your consideration and feedback responses, experience, opinions, and advice.
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Old 04-14-2019, 05:51 PM   #2
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We have a 41’ trawler with twin engines. I put a stern thruster in our boat 2 years ago. If I would want to put a bow thruster in it would probably have to be a pod type thruster since there isn’t room for a tunnel due to our water tank. I wanted a stern thruster because my wife handles the bow lines and I do the stern line but I have to come down from the bridge and sometimes the stern has blown off the dock so I can use the thruster with the remote to bring the stern back to the dock. Having said that I would choose the boat in the best condition rather than which thruster it has. You can always add the other thruster but bringing a boat in poor condition back is going to cost way more than a thruster.
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Old 04-14-2019, 05:57 PM   #3
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A twist on the same question. Which is easier to add (to the better condition boat) - Bow Or Stern thruster?

My guess would be a stern thruster would be easier, less hassle and less money.

However I don't know the answer.
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Old 04-14-2019, 06:06 PM   #4
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Comodave, the underlying assumption of my question was that both boats were, for all practical purposes, identical and in the same condition -- the only difference between them being that one had a bow thruster and the other had a stern thruster: which would be preferable, all less being equal?
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Old 04-14-2019, 06:40 PM   #5
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Boiler, I would choose bow in the scenario you have presented.

BTW, our previous two boats had twins, so I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous to transition to a single. I definitely have room for improvement, but After a year, it has not been a big deal.

BTW, are you a boiler maker by trade?
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Old 04-14-2019, 06:41 PM   #6
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I’ve had both and the most important thing is to be sure it has enough horses to be effective. I can tell you conclusively a 5hp bow thruster and a 5hp stern thruster on a 42 Nordic Tug is 10hp short of being enough. Being underpowered is the best training there is to get better at handling a single screw boat. Anything over 40ft should have an 8-10hp thruster. If I could only have one, I liked the stern because it was more useful when docking to port.

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Old 04-14-2019, 06:48 PM   #7
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If the boats are in the same condition then I would go with a bow thruster since on most boats adding a stern thruster is simple. It took 2 of us about a day and a half to do the stern thruster. Pretty simple DIY job.
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:00 PM   #8
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Fletcher500,
I'm a 1975 Purdue University graduate/alumnus; Purdue is known as the Boilermakers, and their mascot is "Boilermaker Pete." Hence my "Boilermaker75" user ID.
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:03 PM   #9
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Comodave,
Does your response imply that you would add a stern thruster to the boat that had a bow truster, and vice versa, you would add a bow thruster to the boat that had a stern thruster, so you had both? But since adding a stern thruster is simpler/easier than adding a bow thruster, you'd buy the boat that had the bow thruster and add the stern thruster to it?
What if you could have only one -- either a bow thruster or a stern thruster? Which would you choose?
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:07 PM   #10
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Bow thruster, and kick the arse over with bursts to the rudder...with an intention to modify rudder into a Thistle/Fishtail so it moves stern even better.
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:11 PM   #11
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MurrayM,
I've never hear of a "Thistle/Fishtail" rudder; could you explain or clarify further? Thanks.
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:13 PM   #12
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Boilermaker,
Our boat is a single engine with bow thruster (Nordic Tug 37). We can kick the stern fairly well with either a burst in forward (rudder placed first appropriately) or using the starboard prop walk in reverse. Using the bow thruster and the above mentioned "bursts", we can basically "walk the boat" sideways to the starboard side. Using the bow thruster we can even "back to port" but it is way more difficult and takes lots of practise. If I had a spare $10-15 grand, I would add a stern thruster, but we are doing fine without it.
So, in my humble opinion, a bow thruster is very useful on a single engine, and a stern thruster is a "nice to have".
Hope that helps,
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:17 PM   #13
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My vote is a bow thruster
We have a 44 Swift Trawler with both bow and stern thrusters.
Bow thruster helps get the bow in control
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boilermaker75 View Post
MurrayM,
I've never hear of a "Thistle/Fishtail" rudder; could you explain or clarify further? Thanks.
This should get you started: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schilling_rudder
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:23 PM   #15
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We put the stern thruster in for a specific reason, in a generic boat I would go for the installed bow thruster. It is more work to install and therefore much more expensive than a stern thruster.
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:23 PM   #16
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For me in that scenario I'd want a bow thruster. You already have a degree of control in the stern with a) prop walk and b) rudder maneuvering. In the bow, you have nothing, nadda, zippo, so more control in the front would be a good thing. I installed an Exturn bow thruster in front, an external pod type thruster - still not cheap.
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:27 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsn48 View Post
For me in that scenario I'd want a bow thruster. You already have a degree of control in the stern with a) prop walk and b) rudder maneuvering. In the bow, you have nothing, nadda, zippo, so more control in the front would be a good thing. I installed an Exturn bow thruster in front, an external pod type thruster - still not cheap.
Did you do the install yourself or did you pay to have it installed? I have been looking at the Exturn pod thruster if I can figure a way out to access the interior without ripping out all of the forward cabin.
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Old 04-14-2019, 08:38 PM   #18
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I have a 40 Eagle w/single engine. It came with a bow thruster and 4 years ago I installed a Lewmar stern thruster. If I could choose only one it would be the bow for all the reasons rsn48 cited. I have installed both and the stern is much easier but with a reasonable amount of fiberglassing and wiring skill you can do either.
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Old 04-14-2019, 08:38 PM   #19
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I run a 38' single screw with a bow thruster but no stern thruster. Never really felt the need for a stern thruster as I can control that end with rudder and prop. I do REALLY like the bow thruster!

My vote is the bow thruster is at least a few times more handy than stern.
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Old 04-14-2019, 08:50 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelydon View Post
I have a 40 Eagle w/single engine. It came with a bow thruster and 4 years ago I installed a Lewmar stern thruster. If I could choose only one it would be the bow for all the reasons rsn48 cited. I have installed both and the stern is much easier but with a reasonable amount of fiberglassing and wiring skill you can do either.
Sigh...when Badger grows up, it wants to be a Transpac Eagle 40
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