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Old 04-11-2014, 12:18 AM   #1
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There's a hole in my Boomarang!

Well, I've finally done it . . . . a bow thruster on my little boat. I know I don't absolutely need it, but I want it. It will make boat handling in close quarters on windy days much easier than it is now. Backing, filling and warping is OK, I've done it for many years years in sailboats, but somehow, being inside a pilothouse with restricted visibility, with a starboard helm (5 turns lock to lock) in a boat that backs to port is just not easy. Particularly single handed with no crew to man fenders or lines. Now I will be able to do pirouettes in a boat length! I will make sure I keep my regular docking skills in practice, but I am really looking forward to this new experience.

New to the USA, Craftsman Marine of The Netherlands is the manufacturer. Small 6" diameter tube with 7-blade propeller and 3.8KW motor. I chose one size larger than recommended to be safe with my full length keel and 8.5 tons of boat. Even a wireless remote. Launch tomorrow.


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Old 04-11-2014, 02:01 AM   #2
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I've operated without thrusters and I've operated with thrusters. I'll never go back to the "without." I don't care how well one can maneuver a boat, there are circumstances in which you can do things with thrusters that just aren't possible without. I think of them sometimes as "Anti-Wind machines."
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Old 04-11-2014, 05:44 AM   #3
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Well done Larry. I'm envious.

They were on the top of my priority list after my first lame attempt at solo docking with a beam wind. Since then I've managed to improve my skills somewhat, and a bow thruster has dropped down the priority list.

Last week I managed to give my dock neighbour a little nudge on a windy day when my spring line hookup missed the mark, so I'm again considering. The mad dash from the helm station to the cockpit to handle the spring line, then back to put it in gear, (or abort) is fairly stressful.

The lower cost option is to install a second throttle control in my cockpit. (I have an emergency tiller)
This way I wouldn't have to leave the controls to handle the spring line.
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Old 04-11-2014, 05:48 AM   #4
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Nice clean install .Any pics of the inside ? The Boomarang looks good .
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Old 04-11-2014, 07:07 PM   #5
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There are folks who will tell you that a thruster is "cheating", but I think anything that makes it easier and safer to operate your boat is a good thing. I have one and am not ashamed to use it.

You will not be sorry you installed it.
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Old 04-11-2014, 08:35 PM   #6
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There are folks who will tell you that a thruster is "cheating", but I think anything that makes it easier and safer to operate your boat is a good thing. I have one and am not ashamed to use it.

You will not be sorry you installed it.
If that's true, then a motor is cheating and if that's true then sails are cheating and if that's true then oars are cheating and if that's true I guess even a boat is cheating.

About 4 times a year I'm very thankful for them. The rest of the time just enjoy them. But those very thankful days for thrusters are those days you're docked alongside and little room to get out with boats in front and behind you and the wind blowing 25 knots directly into your open side pushing you to the dock. Or docking in the opposite situation. Also negotiating tight docks in windy circumstances with oversized boats protruding into the way from both sides. Also occasionally in locks. Could I handle anything without them? Probably. But why create a stressful situation when it doesn't have to be.
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Old 04-11-2014, 11:19 PM   #7
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Well everyone, sorry for the long post, but I just had an amazing first experience with my new thruster. In addition to the thruster installation, we discovered the 40-year old rudder shaft had come loose from the blade and was badly eroded inside the rudder socket. The machine shop fabricated a new stainless shaft which took a few days and we reinstalled the rudder assembly just before the launch. Steering felt smooth, no leaks, all seemed OK. It was windy today, even in the yard, but no problem, I now had a bow thruster. I was still playing with it as I made my way out of the shipyard, a series of right turns and a final right into the channel. A hundred yards later the channel again turned right and finally turned left into Clear Lake. As I turned the wheel to the left to make the turn, it stopped almost immediately. No left rudder. I used the thruster to make the turn into the lake. I rather quickly determined the rudder quadrant had not been installed correctly as it was about 30+ degrees off center. Lots of right rudder, but almost no left. The lift was already hoisting another boat and I did not feel confident enough to try to return solo, so I decided to head back to my marina. At least I had sea room. The wind was building on the port beam, but with the wheel hard left, and frequent thruster corrections, I was able to make the two miles across the lake and remain in the rather narrow channel. Next the channel makes a hard left. I sensed the thruster battery was getting low and I was way above the allowed minutes/hour usage limitation so, to conserve energy for maneuvering in the marina, I made a hard right turn through about 270 degrees and rolled out on the new course. The wind now right off the port bow. Two more left thruster turns into the marina and the remaining three turns were right. With 60+ degrees of right rudder, those were no problem. Turning into the slip, I nudged the bow right, then left with the thruster and stopped. Easy breezy.

Having a thruster turned a potential disaster, or at a minimum, a tow, into an interesting exercise in boat handling. I was able to effectively steer the boat in 20+ knots of wind directly on my beam, for several miles with relative ease.

I am sold, and I'm still grinning!!

Larry
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BTW, I did ask if they had centered the wheel with the rudder. They said the rudder shaft had a keyway and couldn't be out of adjustment. The machine shop had cut the new keyway in line with the rudder blade. The original keyway was cut 35 degrees off center. NEVER take anything for granted.
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Old 04-11-2014, 11:47 PM   #8
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I won't give up my bow thruster until every twin-engined boat becomes single!
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Old 04-11-2014, 11:52 PM   #9
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I don't use mine a lot, but when I have it's because it was needed and it helped with whatever I was doing.

We use it mostly in the locks to help get the boat sideways against the wall.
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Old 04-11-2014, 11:56 PM   #10
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Great story Larry!

Soon after installing mine I maneuvered my boat out of my slip, into the fairway, out in the channel, and out of the harbour without touching the helm, only the thruster.

But out of choice, not out of necessity.
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Old 04-12-2014, 12:00 AM   #11
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"I rather quickly determined the rudder quadrant had not been installed correctly as it was about 30+ degrees off center."
Same thing happened to me! Except I can't blame the yard. I did the installation.

I'm very proud of my ability to handle single engine boats but damn I wish I had a thruster. Anything that makes boating easier is a good thing.

If anybody is close to buying a thruster, now might be a good time. Side Power is giving free tunnels with big thrusters and half price tunnels for smaller thrusters. I think the special ends pretty soon.
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Old 04-12-2014, 12:01 AM   #12
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I use the thruster whenever it's convenient. Don't twin-engined boats always use both engines unless emulating single-engined boats? I doubt they prefer such single-engine practice when high-maneuverability is needed.
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Old 04-12-2014, 11:23 AM   #13
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I use the thruster whenever it's convenient. Don't twin-engined boats always use both engines unless emulating single-engined boats? I doubt they prefer such single-engine practice when high-maneuverability is needed.
There is no reason to not use everything you have. We have twin engines but still use thrusters, especially the bow thrusters. We use docking controls as well. Basically use anything you have that can help you while retaining the knowledge and skill to handle things if they failed to work.

We use radar and things like that too. Even use GPS in our car. How shameful of us.....lol
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Old 04-12-2014, 04:02 PM   #14
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Thrusters are there to be used, that's it no more no less.
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Old 04-12-2014, 10:28 PM   #15
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Haven't you guys heard? Thrusters are socially acceptable now.

People with azimuth pods on their boats are big cheaters however.
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Old 04-13-2014, 09:54 AM   #16
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"People with azimuth pods on their boats are big cheaters however. "

Right on! Real men don't use Azimuth Pods. Down with the Pod People!
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Old 04-16-2014, 01:46 PM   #17
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Nice clean install .Any pics of the inside ? The Boomarang looks good .
Pack Mule,

Thank you. Here is the installation from the inside. It was pretty straight forward except that we found an un-used fiberglass water tank instead of a void. It had to be cut out from the inside to allow the tube to be glassed in place. Since that space had never been accessible before, the net loss in storage space was zero. The dedicated battery is located in the small seat/step in front of the v-berth storage compartment.

Larry
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:47 PM   #18
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What size battery did you install for the thruster and are you charging it from you house battery charger or seperate charger?
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:27 PM   #19
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What size battery did you install for the thruster and are you charging it from you house battery charger or seperate charger?
The thruster is 3.5kW and draws 500A when running. The battery is a dedicated Group 34 AGM rated at 56AH and 880CCA. It is charged by a dedicated Xantrex Echo-Charge which is limited to 15A and disconnects from the charging source when the thruster is used. The Echo-Charge is connected to the house bank which is charged via an ACR from either the main battery charger or the alternator if the engine is running. It mirrors its charging source and limits its output to 14.4V.

Docking by Control, the contractor, recommended a separate 10A charger for the battery, but I chose to install an Echo-Charge so that I could charge underway as well as dockside. Initially, it seems to be working well, time will tell.

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Old 04-16-2014, 07:57 PM   #20
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Great installation, Larry. And your boat is SWEET, too!
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