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Old 02-09-2015, 09:16 PM   #21
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We own a 40' Marine Trader Labelle (weighs about 23,000 lbs) and we're looking to add a bow thruster. We want to avoid tunnel thrusters. We've researched both the Exturn Yacht Controller and the SideShift SS340.

The Yacht Controller seems to be quite a bit more expensive than the comparable Sideshift.

Can anyone give us advice re: their dependability, ease of use, and - most importantly - the amount of drag they introduce.



Thanks for whatever info you can offer.

Barb & Tim Halecki
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Barbara, I see this is your first post, and you have a spectacular thread drift. Don`t be disappointed, I don`t think so far anyone except Blue Yonder has experience of the external units you want to compare.
What prices were you quoted for each? I think the Exturn is a Scandinavian import, thus higher price.
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Old 02-09-2015, 11:05 PM   #22
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I don't have any experience with an externally mounted bow thruster, but I'd be concerned about durability. What happens if you hit a log? A piece of ice? Can it handle bumping into a mooring buoy all night? Or a bump against the dock?

I like my bow thruster...it makes docking faster, easier, and less stressful. Could I use a spring line instead? Sure, most of the time, but the bow thruster is quicker and easier. And spring lines can be tough to use when singlehanded.

What's the cost differential between a conventional tunnel thruster and an externally mounted unit? It'd be a bummer to buy the external unit, only to repair it, replace it, or install a conventional tunnel thruster in a short time.

On edit: Some boaters are anti-thruster for a variety of reasons—they enable people to "cheat" and avoid "real" seamanship, they're unreliable (not true in my experience), they're another thru hull, they give people false confidence, and on and on. Most of us use our boats for pleasure, and if a thruster (or thrusters) make boating more fun and less stressful and you can afford it, by all means get a thruster. Just know its limitations—run time (for electric), how much wind and current it can push against, etc.
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Old 02-09-2015, 11:24 PM   #23
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The Yacht controller product is probably high quality since the companies other products are and after meeting and talking to the company owner I have even greater faith in his products. Remember sometimes you get what you pay for. One of the advantages of an external unit vs tunnel is a longer run time before overheating due to cooling effect of surrounding water. If it were my boat I would go with a tunnel and an Imtra variable speed unit. I remember what trucks and cars were like to steer before variable ratio power steering, shore I could do it and still can but I rather not. The same goes for dealing with a boat. I have done and was good with the single engine no thruster thing, but I much prefer the twin engine bow and stern variable speed thrusters and the yacht controller JS and remote. If you want to enjoy your boat and have the bucks why not go for more control, and you can occasionally practice the single engine with no help just so you know what to do if the peripherals quit for some reason.
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Old 02-10-2015, 12:01 AM   #24
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I recently had the unpleasant experience of docking a yet to be mine 70ft boat where the port motor had electronic control issues amd could not be used. I had a powerful side power bow thruster and the starboard motor amd was able to reverse it into its slip with lots of help from the thruster. They certainly can get you out of trouble.
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:47 AM   #25
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Actually, a bow thruster would be of even more help to a twin screw boat with one engine out then it is to a single screw boat.
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Old 02-10-2015, 09:50 AM   #26
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Actually, a bow thruster would be of even more help to a twin screw boat with one engine out than it is to a single screw boat.
Interesting comment. I actually pondered that when I decided to make an offer on a Ocean Alexander 42. The boat, although it's a twin, has a 10hp, duel prop bow thruster which, given my personal history with thrusters, caused me great joy!

Years ago, when entering my marina, my 54' sport fisher's electronic controlled engines failed. I was heading for some parked boats (although at a very slow speed) and could not shift into reverse. The boat had a Venus bow thruster and I laid on it in an attept to swing the bow 90% to port. It worked just in time and I laid the boat up against two concrete pillars that supported finger docks that slipped a 55' boat. Luckily (for me) the slipped boat did not extend out beyond her slip length & I missed her by mere inches.

I'm a big supporter of bow thrusters and I think their contributions to safe boating go far beyond just getting your boat in the slip.

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Old 02-10-2015, 11:42 AM   #27
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Putting aside the have or have not controversy, In MO a bow thruster is never as strong as you would like it to be when you really need it.

Everything that I have heard about the external thrusters is that your little finger pushing on the bow would have the same effect.

If you want the most effective thruster, get a hydraulic thruster. Short of that get the biggest one that will fit in the new hole that you are getting in your bow.
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Old 02-10-2015, 12:51 PM   #28
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Thrusters are truly a gift from God.
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Old 02-10-2015, 01:02 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by seasalt007 View Post
Putting aside the have or have not controversy, In MO a bow thruster is never as strong as you would like it to be when you really need it.

Everything that I have heard about the external thrusters is that your little finger pushing on the bow would have the same effect.

If you want the most effective thruster, get a hydraulic thruster. Short of that get the biggest one that will fit in the new hole that you are getting in your bow.
Wow....try some more boats with electric thrusters...many work beyond "just enough".....

They are not miracle workers...but like many say...you shouldn't ever really need one...but in some spots...its just what you need....even weaker ones.
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Old 02-10-2015, 01:20 PM   #30
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I've never had a bow thruster but I've always wanted one.
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Old 02-10-2015, 02:54 PM   #31
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Have extern thrusters fore and aft. They work really well. Go one size larger than what the recommend. My boat is 36' about 22,000 pounds. I went with the 300s rather than the 230 they suggested based on internet research I did. I run the boat single handed, it's nice to be able to use the remote to hold it against the dock while I handle the lines.

Alex at Yachtthruster provides outstanding customer service and still responds promptly to questions even though I purchased them three years ago.

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Old 02-10-2015, 04:53 PM   #32
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That's a nice installation OtR. I wonder how much of a cost difference if any VS. a tunnel unit? Up here I would worry a log would knock it right off.
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Old 02-10-2015, 05:38 PM   #33
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John(OTR), User feedback is useful, just what the OP needs. Are they Exturn brand units, how was the fitting process,(easy, tough, cost), did you need more battery, etc.
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Old 02-10-2015, 10:02 PM   #34
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I think thrusters are over rated. Just buy $2,000.00 worth of fenders and keep them chained together around your boat. On a serious note I agree with previous post, up size if you can and make sure you do the same to the size of power wire that you use.
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Old 02-11-2015, 12:55 AM   #35
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20 years I have been operating Tidahapah, single engine no thruster and no problems but as I get older and more cautious the thruster thoughts are more prevelant.
I was tieing up to a wall and 2 poles the other day with a 25 knot SE breeze and during and upon completion I thought a thruster would have been really handy and so did my mate on board , he is also the boat builder who has done a lot of work on Tidahapah during the last few years.
I said I didn't have the space in the fwd bilge to fit one, in a flash he was down there , tape in hand and before i know it he says no problems and we could fit one for about 8k, I think my Boss would be pretty happy with that so it has gone on the wish list.

As much as I have said a bow thruster is not required they really are a handy piece of equipment, always fit over size and for mine they should be tube mounted , especially in the bow as the appendage is surely prone to damage.

Any how that's my take on it.
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Old 02-11-2015, 06:58 AM   #36
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Greetings,
Mr. T. Just for the sake of interest, how would one mount a thruster in a wooden hull? I expect epoxy would be involved?
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Old 02-11-2015, 09:03 AM   #37
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20 years I have been operating Tidahapah, single engine no thruster and no problems but as I get older and more cautious the thruster thoughts are more prevelant.......

As much as I have said a bow thruster is not required they really are a handy piece of equipment, always fit over size and for mine they should be tube mounted , especially in the bow as the appendage is surely prone to damage.
Older, cautious? How about smarter? There are many adjectives that describe wisdom.
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Old 02-11-2015, 10:40 AM   #38
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Everything that I have heard about the external thrusters is that your little finger pushing on the bow would have the same effect.
Great Laker has a bow and stern thruster (both electric). I can spin the boat rapidly in a perfect circle either way, and they are quite responsive in 1 or 2 second bursts. One limitation is they can overheat with long on times and shut down. That is one advantage of the hydraulic thrusters.
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Old 02-11-2015, 01:21 PM   #39
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Great Laker has a bow and stern thruster (both electric). I can spin the boat rapidly in a perfect circle either way, and they are quite responsive in 1 or 2 second bursts. One limitation is they can overheat with long on times and shut down. That is one advantage of the hydraulic thrusters.

Are they external thrusters? Or tunnel?
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Old 02-11-2015, 02:14 PM   #40
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The bow is tunnel with 2 props, installed at the factory. The stern has an external tube with one prop, coupled through a hole in the transom to the motor inside, and was installed by the AT dealer after delivery to the Great Lakes. It is directly under and protected by the boarding platform.

They can be operated singly or jointly by a single integrated controller shaped like a boat. Twist the boat and you get pure rotation. Push the boat sideways and you get pure translation. Push the nose sideways to move the bow in that direction, and ditto for the stern.

All made by Sidepower.
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