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Old 02-09-2015, 02:52 PM   #1
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Wink Seeking advice on Bow Thrusters

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.

We usually cruise at about 9 - 10 knots and really don't want to incur any large degradation in speed.

Thanks for whatever info you can offer.

Barb & Tim Halecki
"Promise Kept II"
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Old 02-09-2015, 03:09 PM   #2
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Here is a picture of one on a boat in my marina. Pretty badly corroded. I don't know if that was caused by poor maintenance or the way it's built.
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Old 02-09-2015, 04:48 PM   #3
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Hey Barb and Tim,
Love your boat. We owned a 34' MT, and the LaBelle is on our list of potentials for the next one.
I've no experience with either of the units you mention. But I'll mention this: When we bought our 34', it was a major jump from the 18' Grady White we had at the time. I knew most larger boats in our area (Maine/New Hampshire at the time) were all twin screw, and I was concerned about not having twins. Other folks in the marina all advised that we'd soon be buying a bow thruster.
All except one guy, who turned out to be a good friend. He talked to me about a month after we'd purchased the boat. He made a couple of good points.
He said that first of all, there were TONS of boats in our area that were single screw boats that had no trouble maneuvering at all, and he pointed to two lobster boats out working their pots. Okay...that was a good point. He said the difference between those guys and the guys offering advice in our marina was that the lobstermen just knew how to handle their boats better...and that I should strive to be as good as they were at handling my boat. Okay...that was pretty hard to argue with too. The final point he made was that with single screw boats, people rarely have trouble pointing the bow...they have trouble backing. So in his opinion, many people that sought a bow thruster when what they probably needed was a stern thruster.
Turned out he had owned about 6 Marine Trader 34's, a couple of 38's, and was currently boating on a 43' Albin Sundeck.

Just food for thought

Jim
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Old 02-09-2015, 05:49 PM   #4
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15 years with a single screw GB 36, no thruster and never had a problem maneuvering after a bit of practice. Learn the boat's handling characteristics and you'll be fine without one.

Last 3 years with a GB 46 without a thruster. Again, no problems maneuvering. Wish I had one but don't feel a need strong enough to open my pocket book.

Good luck, Howard
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Old 02-09-2015, 06:24 PM   #5
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Installed one in '08 when I bought the boat, so glad I did. Makes backing into a slip off a narrow canal easy. Recommend you get one, you won't be disappointed.
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Old 02-09-2015, 07:44 PM   #6
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Love our thrusters. I agree it does make it easier. Curious, why avoid the tunnel type?
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Old 02-09-2015, 07:57 PM   #7
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Love our thrusters. I agree it does make it easier. Curious, why avoid the tunnel type?
Yes, even professionals use tunnel thrusters, such as this megayacht using them to wait for the channel to clear while our ship, using thrusters, made a 180-degree turn in the harbor before docking at Puerto Vallarta:

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Old 02-09-2015, 07:58 PM   #8
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We had the stern version on our camnao, was not crazy bout it. After using tunnels ones they're the way to go.
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Old 02-09-2015, 07:59 PM   #9
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Hey mark! That's a nice pic of our boat haha
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:01 PM   #10
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Thrusters are also great when waiting at a bridge, use the engine to keep you away, and the thrusters to keep you straight.
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:07 PM   #11
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Looking at adverts/specs, pluses are no big holes in boat, fitting costs less, initial cost may be less too, if only I could find pricing. Obviously there are negatives, like risk of damage with an externally mounted unit. Sideshift advert says change the anode annually,plus use a/f on the unit. Wonder if Propspeed works on them.
I don`t have a bow thruster, but do have getting one in mind, it would work well with twins.
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:11 PM   #12
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Hey mark! That's a nice pic of our boat haha
Where's your outdoor Jacuzzi?
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:14 PM   #13
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Yea, that's why we are selling it. It has no helipad either. Otherwise she's a great starter boat
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:14 PM   #14
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Installed one in '08 when I bought the boat, so glad I did. Makes backing into a slip off a narrow canal easy. Recommend you get one, you won't be disappointed.
Yes, the bow thruster is handy to counter unwanted prop walk while going in reverse. It is usual for me to "twist" the bow to starboard before exiting berth since the propwalk (stern movement) tends to starboard.
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:26 PM   #15
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15 years with a single screw GB 36, no thruster and never had a problem maneuvering after a bit of practice. Learn the boat's handling characteristics and you'll be fine without one.

Last 3 years with a GB 46 without a thruster. Again, no problems maneuvering. Wish I had one but don't feel a need strong enough to open my pocket book.

Good luck, Howard

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Old 02-09-2015, 08:43 PM   #16
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The point is well made that thrusters can not be a substitute for boat handling skills. One day that thruster will not work when you want it to. You should be able to dock your boat without them. With that said, they are very convenient, especially on single screw boats for all the reasons posted above.

What I still have a question on is how efficient are external ones compared to the tunnel ones. I only have experience with tunnel bow thrusters and would definitely recommend them.
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:54 PM   #17
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The point is well made that thrusters can not be a substitute for boat handling skills. One day that thruster will not work when you want it to. You should be able to dock your boat without them. With that said, they are very convenient, especially on single screw boats for all the reasons posted above. ...
And shouldn't twin-engine boaters be equally adept with one engine not working?
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:57 PM   #18
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You know, I've never had twin screws. If you do, do you ever practice coming in with one engine just in neutral?
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Old 02-09-2015, 09:05 PM   #19
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And shouldn't twin-engine boaters be equally adept with one engine not working?
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 02-09-2015, 09:05 PM   #20
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Should have mentioned in my earlier post that our GB46 is a twin. Yes, I can back into a slip on one engine. It's tricky but it can be done. Backing in with both engines in neutral is quite another matter.

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