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Old 08-02-2014, 11:42 AM   #21
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A couple of posters point out very important things. Be sure you go big enough. Understand the limitations if you go electrical and how long it can be used. Many choose hydraulic for that reason. Also, don't get yourself into situations where you're suddenly expecting the impossible even from thrusters.

Now we are heavy users of our boats and cruise a lot. Therefore, we find ourselves in different areas, different marinas, different situations often. Each system of locks is different. Erie Canal isn't like the Tennessee River. Okeechobee not like the Panama Canal. All of this increases our chance of finding ourselves in a situation where they are needed. It doesn't take many times when they do something for you that otherwise you just couldn't have done for them to pay for themselves in the relief of stress, even if not in terms of potential damage. Can be dock and undock without them? Yes. But it is easier with them and as we dock and undock probably 250 times a year or more, in all types of conditions, then we consider them essential. Several times we have used them beneficially when another boat was having major issues in a tight area. We would clear space for them or give them the easier space.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:14 PM   #22
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If the purpose of a stern thruster is to get you off a dock with little space fore and aft, make sure you get a BIG one. I have seen a few collisions where the thruster did not get the boat clear fast enough against wind/current. God originally invented spring lines for this purpose.
The Wesmars that were recommended are 13 hp each, which should be ample on a 35000 pound NT 42. The NT 42 owner previously mentioned has 10 (bow) and 7 (stern) and says he can parallel park against 25 knot winds.

Also, the stronger the thrusters, the shorter runs times required, lessening the chance of the 24V DC systems kicking out.

I wondered when spring lines would be brought up! They can be used to get away from the dock, but in our part of the world bullrails are almost exclusively used, which can be a challenge when approaching in a high wind. Dock access from our boat is pretty much limited to off the stern platform.

One other consideration is adding remote controls which should then permit single handing from time to time. Still pondering that one.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:19 PM   #23
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If the purpose of a stern thruster is to get you off a dock with little space fore and aft, make sure you get a BIG one. I have seen a few collisions where the thruster did not get the boat clear fast enough against wind/current. God originally invented spring lines for this purpose.
+1 to all that.

Especially the use of a spring line. Which quite frankly it sounds like a number of people here with singles do not seem to know how or when to use one.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:24 PM   #24
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A couple of posters point out very important things. Be sure you go big enough. Understand the limitations if you go electrical and how long it can be used. Many choose hydraulic for that reason. Also, don't get yourself into situations where you're suddenly expecting the impossible even from thrusters.

Now we are heavy users of our boats and cruise a lot. Therefore, we find ourselves in different areas, different marinas, different situations often. Each system of locks is different. Erie Canal isn't like the Tennessee River. Okeechobee not like the Panama Canal. All of this increases our chance of finding ourselves in a situation where they are needed. It doesn't take many times when they do something for you that otherwise you just couldn't have done for them to pay for themselves in the relief of stress, even if not in terms of potential damage. Can be dock and undock without them? Yes. But it is easier with them and as we dock and undock probably 250 times a year or more, in all types of conditions, then we consider them essential. Several times we have used them beneficially when another boat was having major issues in a tight area. We would clear space for them or give them the easier space.
Well put. We sometimes shy away from tying up at various docks while cruising because they are complex or have too much wind.

There is a real sense of satisfaction when you can grease a landing just using the prop and rudder, and I will continue to experience that. But having a safety net and the ability to thrust my way into the otherwise impossible spots just makes life better.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:40 PM   #25
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Great Laker has Sidepower bow and stern thrusters. Both are very useful in many situations. Since the value of the stern thruster seems to be in question by some, let me give some examples where I have found it key.
  • Holding the stern close to a lock wall in winds and swirling waters when the main engine is off and the Admiral can't hold on to the line.
  • Moving the stern off a dock against the wind when there are other boats ahead and astern, and it is necessary to back away.
  • Steering the stern when backing into a slip.
  • Steering the stern when backing out of a narrow fairway into the wind.
  • Quickly spinning the boat 90 deg when in a narrow fairway with winds and needing to enter a slip.
  • Moving the stern over to get a line around a pile while in a slip.

I have said in previous threads that if I could only have either a bow or stern thruster, I would seriously consider just the stern thruster.
I'm with you. We have both, ABT hydraulic, and I must say when you have to back down a line of boats with 3' on either side - like we did to squeeze into our slip at the Victoria Splash event - bow and stern are mighty nice. Plus, the ability to swing the boat quickly through 360 degrees in her own length comes in handy when maneuvering. We also use the stern thruster to keep the bow where I want it when lowering the hook since it has better leverage than the bow unit.

One thing I am quite sure of - you won't regret having the stern thruster.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:51 PM   #26
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All good points.
After my first docking attempt with the new to me boat, (big wind and I was solo with no spring line), a bow thruster was on the top of the upgrade list. It was very close to a disaster. Over time a thruster has slowly working its way down the list of priorities.

I would still like one, but if I had to choose either a bow thruster or a spring line to help me dock, I'm not sure which I'd rather have.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:53 PM   #27
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The Wesmars that were recommended are 13 hp each, which should be ample on a 35000 pound NT 42. The NT 42 owner previously mentioned has 10 (bow) and 7 (stern) and says he can parallel park against 25 knot winds.

Also, the stronger the thrusters, the shorter runs times required, lessening the chance of the 24V DC systems kicking out.

I wondered when spring lines would be brought up! They can be used to get away from the dock, but in our part of the world bullrails are almost exclusively used, which can be a challenge when approaching in a high wind. Dock access from our boat is pretty much limited to off the stern platform.

One other consideration is adding remote controls which should then permit single handing from time to time. Still pondering that one.
Not sure you need the remote. I have used ours only a half dozen times in as many years and while it is very cool to stand on the top deck and back the boat through a maze you don't need to do that very often. Plus, you need electronic engine controls to go along with the thruster or the remote is pretty useless. Kobelt built ours, and it provides rudder, gear, throttle and thruster control and I am sure it added a fair bit to the install.

And then there was the time I ripped a 4 x 4 mooring timber off a dock when I had plugged in the remote with the gear in full forward and then switched to that control station from the P/H. Very exciting....
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Old 08-02-2014, 01:33 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Conrad View Post
The Wesmars that were recommended are 13 hp each, which should be ample on a 35000 pound NT 42. The NT 42 owner previously mentioned has 10 (bow) and 7 (stern) and says he can parallel park against 25 knot winds.

Also, the stronger the thrusters, the shorter runs times required, lessening the chance of the 24V DC systems kicking out.

I wondered when spring lines would be brought up! They can be used to get away from the dock, but in our part of the world bullrails are almost exclusively used, which can be a challenge when approaching in a high wind. Dock access from our boat is pretty much limited to off the stern platform.

One other consideration is adding remote controls which should then permit single handing from time to time. Still pondering that one.
You make an excellent point about bull rails, especially when approaching an unattended dock so equipped. A grappling hook type of arrangement can work, but takes really good cowboy or cowgirl skills to execute in adverse conditions.

I think the bottom line is, if you have the moolah and the desire, why not? Especially the bow thruster at first, unless you save a bunch of money from the yard for a twofer. Overall, sounds like you are taking a reasonable approach.
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Old 08-02-2014, 03:13 PM   #29
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Thrusters

Having a Stern Thruster, I wouldn't give it up for a bow thruster..... I see value in both, but I can point my bow into any tight spot and bring my stern in with short bursts of my stern thruster. I can also do a complete 360 without moving my boat. Best of all, backing into a slip or down a long channel is a breeze. I chose a Sideshift stern thruster for the easy do it yourself install..... Not to mention the less than $3K price tag (2011).
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Old 08-02-2014, 04:57 PM   #30
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Great Laker has Sidepower bow and stern thrusters. Both are very useful in many situations. Since the value of the stern thruster seems to be in question by some, let me give some examples where I have found it key.
  • Holding the stern close to a lock wall in winds and swirling waters when the main engine is off and the Admiral can't hold on to the line.
  • Moving the stern off a dock against the wind when there are other boats ahead and astern, and it is necessary to back away.
  • Steering the stern when backing into a slip.
  • Steering the stern when backing out of a narrow fairway into the wind.
  • Quickly spinning the boat 90 deg when in a narrow fairway with winds and needing to enter a slip.
  • Moving the stern over to get a line around a pile while in a slip.

I have said in previous threads that if I could only have either a bow or stern thruster, I would seriously consider just the stern thruster.
There are definitely things I can't do without a bow thruster, but I have never encountered a situation in which a stern thruster would give me better maneuverability that I have twin mains and a bow thruster, so I read your reply with interest.

Now I don't claim to be a maneuvering expert, but there is only one item on your list that I can't do -- that's number 1, holding the stern in with the mains off. But, I compensate for that by not shutting down the mains until the boat is secure (and similarly, I don't cast off until the mains are running).

Also, I have a 24v Sidepower and am very happy with it. The boat is 12v, and it runs off the house bank, but there is an automatic switch (made by Sidepower to work with its thruster) that disconnects part of the house bank and reconnects it in series with the rest of the house bank. I think that approach makes more sense than either a dedicated battery or 12v wiring and motor.


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I think the bottom line is, if you have the moolah and the desire, why not?
Not wishing to spend the money was the main consideration in my case, but I also did not like the idea of snagging fishing lines on it.
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Old 08-02-2014, 06:08 PM   #31
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I have a stern thruster (Vetus 12 volt) on my single screw, 36' Marine Trader.
In the last 14 months I have been through over 150 locks and docked at well over 150 marinas. All single handed. I have found the stern thruster to be invaluable.

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Old 08-02-2014, 07:02 PM   #32
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I have a stern thruster (Vetus 12 volt) on my single screw, 36' Marine Trader.
In the last 14 months I have been through over 150 locks and docked at well over 150 marinas. All single handed. I have found the stern thruster to be invaluable.

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Old 08-02-2014, 07:35 PM   #33
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If you need to dock in impossible places (at least some peoples minds)...the more tools you have the merrier.

If you get used to using a particular tool...you get good with it.

The more you use it...the better you get.

I'll bet there's people here that can put a single screw,no thruster boat into places with a spring that many with one or two thrusters and twins can't. That's just a function of practice (and operator sense).

That same person with twins and two thrusters might be at a total loss trying to use them or might be able to thread the eye of a needle in a hurricane.

Get and use what you want..practice with whatever you have and occasionally with a spring just in case..and enjoy.

Like chartplotters and radar and a bazillion other niceties aboard yachts now...they all make boating within the reach and comfort level of almost anyone.
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:46 PM   #34
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Get and use what you want..practice with whatever you have and occasionally with a spring just in case..and enjoy.
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Wifey B: Yes, yes, yes! PRACTICE. Do it when you have space or wind mild and you don't really need it, or against an imaginary dock or anything. Get use to whatever you have. Time to learn it or learn it's limits isn't when it's critical.
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:49 PM   #35
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I installed a Lewmar 185TT, at 8HP their largest 12V unit. A few times when there was little room fore and aft it hasn't been enough against the wind, so I have had to come in fairly hot. I just haven't had enough practice at doing that and get nervous in those situations.....

I regret not going to a larger unit, and even on a 12V boat having a 24 thruster can be configured as noted above. I have no issues with the Lewmar other than it being undersized for me, but if I was doing it again then would probably go with Sidepower. For the OP, I think the 13HP rec. is a good one as you will not be likely to reach the run time limits. Hydraulic units might be the best, but sticker price shock is severe.
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Old 08-02-2014, 09:30 PM   #36
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+1 to all that.

Especially the use of a spring line. Which quite frankly it sounds like a number of people here with singles do not seem to know how or when to use one.
A spring line is easier to use when leaving a dock. Getting the spring line on the dock (actually getting the first line on the dock) is 90 percent of docking. After that it is usually a piece of cake.
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:15 PM   #37
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I recently sold a long time customer a Sidepower Stern Thruster. He has had his boat many years without one but his wife isn't able to help with the lines anymore. He felt he could use the extra help. He seems pretty happy with it.

I've never had a thruster and I know how to use spring lines. Do I want a thruster? Any thruster? You betcha! I'm in favor of anything that makes boat handling easier.
Unfortunately there is no good place to put a tunnel and I hit bottom so much I'm nervous about the external ones.

If you decide to go with Sidepower, talk to Imtra about what you need. They are the US distributers and are very nice to work with. Of course now I can't think of the name of the fellow I work with there. If you're interested, send me a PM and I'll look it up on Monday.
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:31 PM   #38
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I watch hundreds of boats try and dock every day in all sorts of situations including a fuel dock 3 slips down from where I live on my trawler. The fuel dock often has a 1-3 knot current that isn't exactly parallel to the dock face.

Lot's of docking situations are made harder by the boat operator than what the conditions are requiring of the operator...a little more experience or training would make life much simpler. It's really interesting to see how many people have extreme situations when docking and yet are so resistant to ask for help when imminent damage or injury is around the corner.
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Old 08-03-2014, 12:08 AM   #39
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I watch hundreds of boats try and dock every day in all sorts of situations including a fuel dock 3 slips down from where I live on my trawler. The fuel dock often has a 1-3 knot current that isn't exactly parallel to the dock face.

Lot's of docking situations are made harder by the boat operator than what the conditions are requiring of the operator...a little more experience or training would make life much simpler. It's really interesting to see how many people have extreme situations when docking and yet are so resistant to ask for help when imminent damage or injury is around the corner.
I believe anyone can be trained to dock their boat in one day by an experienced Captain. Not become perfect, but at least competent. I see many who have just never learned to do it the right way.

The spring line discussion has popped up here but how many know how to do it correctly. We have thrusters so seldom need spring lines for docking and undocking but we sure were forced by our Captain to learn how. I will point out one shortcoming of spring lines. On most boats their use requires more than one person to be trained. Not just the operator but the line handler and sometimes another handling the other lines. When docking, it obviously requires someone on the dock and we dock quite often when there is no dock help.
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:21 AM   #40
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I believe anyone can be trained to dock their boat in one day by an experienced Captain. Not become perfect, but at least competent. I see many who have just never learned to do it the right way.

The spring line discussion has popped up here but how many know how to do it correctly. We have thrusters so seldom need spring lines for docking and undocking but we sure were forced by our Captain to learn how. I will point out one shortcoming of spring lines. On most boats their use requires more than one person to be trained. Not just the operator but the line handler and sometimes another handling the other lines. When docking, it obviously requires someone on the dock and we dock quite often when there is no dock help.
Not everyone can learn in a day...the worse they are the quicker they burn out. 4 hour sessions is almost too much for many to handle. Some people pick it up right away...most don't. Because there is no "right way" to dock a boat, sometimes people have to trial and error several techniques before one clicks. Different people, different boats, different conditions all contribute to making a person other than barely comfortable docking in their own slip doubtful...and I have trained quite a few at this.

Springs are not magic and while the captain needs to understand them...the deckhand really doesn't require much more than just being able to hold a line...really the same skills as any linehandler might.

None of this is to say thrusters aren't great...I'm thinking of adding one as it ups my comfort level when asked to tie up in places better suited for twins or better conditions. Have I needed one in the past??? ...no...but if I continue to take slip assignments that I have been getting...yes one would definitely make docking after a long day less stressful. It's just far enough down on the need/want list that I'll just take easier slips if it gets to that point.
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