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Old 01-15-2015, 06:30 PM   #41
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Of all the boats I have owned and backed into slips of all kinds and places, nothing beats big 36 inch props spaced far apart and in clean water. Crisp gear shifts and massive torque from huge diesel engines with a rotating mass that never even slows when engaged helps. If you need more and quicker response just step up the rpm to about 1000. Sportys are renowned for there ability to backup.
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Old 01-15-2015, 08:29 PM   #42
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I think a boater who has a single or twin engine boat with a thruster and who doesn't use it is not as skilled a boater who has a thruster and does use it. Because a thruster enables a skipper do something it's not possible to do with a single or a twin engine boat, and that is move the bow straight sideways while keeping the stern exactly where it is.

And this can be a very, very handy thing to be able to do. It's not about saving a docking or maneuver of some sort, it's about being able to do a maneuver that otherwise can't be done.

We have a twin with no thruster. Most of the time we can do what we want to do with the boat. But there are always times on every cruise when it could be handy to move the bow and leave the stern where it is. To not be able to do this can be limiting and can force us to take more time and execute a more complex series of maneuvers to accomplish the same thing.

So when I hear someone say that they think a boater is less skilled if they use a thruster, what that tells me is that here is a boater who is actually less knowledgeable about boat handling than the boater who has a thruster and knows what it can do for him or her.

To me, it's a bit like announcing that when one drives a car, the first thing one does is disconnect the power steering. Not sure what it proves other than the person doing this has a lot to learn about operating a vehicle.

Now if a person's boat doesn't have a thruster, fine. They ideally will learn to operate their boat in a competent manner and be able to put the boat where they want it.

But to have a thruster and not use it, or be reluctant to use it for fear of other boaters viewing them as less skillful is to my way of thinking indicative of a boater who has more to learn about boat handling than they think they do.
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Old 01-15-2015, 10:58 PM   #43
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I've absolutely no problem with anyone when handling a boat to use whatever is available to them.

On our twin screw Tolly, if there were a bow thruster, I'd darn sure have fun practicing with it. And, I know that occasionally in heavy winds and/or currents it could/would come in handy.

Alas, I've not a thruster installed and don't plan to do so - ever! Therefore... I'll just have to keep using my poor little twin props and well working trany cables to continue slipping in, out, off, and alongside docks.

Such a Struggle! - LOL

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OMG - I just realized I've over 4K posts on TF... scary! Then I scroll up and see Marin with over 11K!! Now I feel less scared!
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Old 01-15-2015, 11:07 PM   #44
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Twins and no thruster.
Docking at Charleston Harbor Marina.
Swift perpendicular current.
3 foot scratch on hull. ��
$480 repair bill.
First docking scar in 50 years of boat ownership.
Hope the next 50 years are just as good.
Wish I had a thruster. ��
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Old 01-16-2015, 09:36 AM   #45
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Twins and no thruster.
Docking at Charleston Harbor Marina.
Swift perpendicular current.
3 foot scratch on hull. ��
$480 repair bill.
First docking scar in 50 years of boat ownership.
Hope the next 50 years are just as good.
Wish I had a thruster. ��
Currents run strong around Charleston. With a large keel perpendicular to those currents, a bow thruster may not overcome the forces. At the Municipal marina a couple on their first trip on a new Grand Banks 42 Europa got caught by the current. The Capt. made the wrong move of trying to move up a fairway with boats on both sides. The current pushed him over onto a row of boat bows. I thought his wife was going to get her arms torn off. She was gallantly trying to hold the boat off the anchors that it was catching. What a disaster! In the end he finally listened to everyone telling him to just stop. He was roped into a slip with much cosmetic damage. I don't know how much damage the other boats received, but there were at least 10 or 12.

Also, you can't depend on the young dock masters to give correct instructions as to how to set up for docking.
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Old 01-16-2015, 10:23 AM   #46
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The interesting part to note about my adventure (which I did not include in my post), was that this was not my first time docking in Charleston Harbor Marina. We visit there every time we travel south/north as our daughter lives in Mount Pleasant. Despite my familiarity with the marina, and the treacherous currents there, I misjudged my approach and scraped the dock. It surprises me that the marina hasn't heavily fendered their docks so that events like this result in nothing more than wounded pride. Hitting other boats is a different issue. My crew has it drummed into their heads that I can fix the boat but I am not able to replace their body parts.

We avoid the City Marina because of the horror stories we have heard. A good friend of ours sustained $25K of damage to his boat at that marina after being swept down a fairway into several boats.

I know that s**t happens, but it is shocking when it happens to you. The bottom line for us is that we will visit Charleston Harbor Marina again when we head north but we will enter and leave at times of slowest current.
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Old 01-16-2015, 10:41 AM   #47
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Post 45 and 46 have one of the most important items in boating... especially docking.


DO NOT EVER TRY TO FEND OFF BY USING HANDS OR FEET! Let the Captain maneuver! If applicable, still being exceptionally careful to be able to personally move away quickly from any dangerous situation, use lines for fetching or for leverage. Use fenders in between items. Push with boat hook or other rod. BUT - DO NOT EVER TRY TO FEND OFF BY USING HANDS OR FEET! AND, NEVER GET IN BETWEEN TWO ITEMS OF ANY SOUGHT!


If that logic was always followed to the "T" I believe considerable amount of boating injuries would not happen. I've seen too many times where people have become injured because.. "They incorrectly thought they could.... "
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Old 01-16-2015, 12:07 PM   #48
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First time I took my boat out after the electronics and autopilot had been installed, I got into the fairway and discovered (or thought) I had no steering. Luckily I managed to back down and into the slip with only the thrusters for directional control. It turned out that the steering had been installed backwards during the autopilot installation. The only tricky part was the large cruiser that insisted on passing us on the way out of the marina even after repeated warnings that we had no steering.
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Old 01-16-2015, 01:39 PM   #49
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This will sound silly to some but when returning to dock once the crosswind was so bad it was easiest to anchor in the wide, shallow fairway and wait. I was fairly sure nobody would be blocked and it was safe. Set the anchor and maintained helm control with the motor at idle in case anchor broke loose or some other action was needed.

Only had to wait 30 minutes or so for the gusts to die down then slipped in without drama. Someone once said the worst thing to have on a boat was a schedule.
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Old 01-16-2015, 03:09 PM   #50
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hmason your story reminds me of my first scary docking experience.

When we chartered in Ireland two years ago we had 25 knot cross winds as we were docking the houseboat in Athlone (Shannon River). We were fortunate to arrive early so I had a full double slip to dock into. By a miracle (as I was very inexperienced) I read the wind perfectly and slipped in like I'd been doing this my whole life.

30 minutes later, another chartered boat approached and they were going to dock into the other half of our slip. We piled all fenders on the upwind side, and got onto the dock to catch lines and assist if requested. Unfortunately they never even got CLOSE to us and were swept into a marina member's boat in the next slip. They hit and bent his stainless davits, but fortunately the man's (launched) dinghy was spared. We grabbed lines and helped pull them into the next slip.

Not more than an hour later, another charter approached to attempt exactly the same maneuver that the last charter did. EXACTLY the same events transpired except that this time the davits were severely damaged, as was the dinghy (see pic). This boat refused help and quickly ended up grounded on the rocky shore. The harbormaster determined that the skipper (and all crew) was drunk and police were on site immediately. Not a good day for that group of German tourists.
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Old 01-16-2015, 03:31 PM   #51
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One of the least used features of a boat during docking seems to be reverse. As in reverse into the fairway and go back out for another try. I think some skippers become so fearful or confused during a docking that their only desire is to get it over with and get to the dock. So they press on even though things are rapidly going south because the security of the dock is better than their insecurity of not being at the dock.

I've known private pilots--and unfortunately flew with an example-- who were so desperate to get the plane down to the safety of the runway that they made serious mistakes during the landing.

Be it planes or boats, a go-around is almost always an option. We've done it numerous times in the boat, particularly as we were getting used to it, and we still do it if it's a place we're not used to and we're not confident that we've set ourselves up properly.

Another thing we've carried over into boating from flying floatplanes is that it's just as important to figure out beforehand how we're going to get off a dock as it is to figure out how we're going to get on it. Sometimes even more so. This is especially the case with temporary stops like fuel docks, customs docks, and so on.

Our dock is across the turning basin from our harbor's fuel dock. During the busy summer months we have a ringside seat to some amazing boating antics. Quite often they are the result of a boater not taking into account how the wind or current or both are going to affect his or her departure. They put all their consideration into the docking only to find they can't get off the dock when they're ready to go. And sometimes thir attemps are accompanied by crunching or scraping noises.

In these situations we'd rather make the docking a little more challenging because we have more options to work with in getting to the dock than we might have getting off it. So we tend to discuss the departure first, then we talk about our approach.
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Old 01-16-2015, 04:13 PM   #52
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Oh....and thruster users typically drive a Prius. The ones who do tricks in tight fairways lease a Tesla.

Nope, try again wispy. I drive a 3/4 ton diesel 4X4.

But you seem like a fun guy to have as a phone a friend, ya got all the answers.
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Old 01-16-2015, 04:40 PM   #53
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Mocked or not, I'll make as many approaches as necessary to avoid hitting the dock or another boat, using my thruster as much as needed. My two most recent dockings this week required I back away and take another run, and use the thruster. I didn't hit the docks or another boat. If you mock that, you're probably not a boater.
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Old 01-16-2015, 06:49 PM   #54
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I really don't care what anyone thinks. My job is to dock the boat in the safest possible way with the least possible damage. If I damaged the boat or another boat out of some hesitation to use my thrusters then I'd be a fool.

One point was made earlier on exiting. If you're stern to in a slip, then the bow thruster can be crucial and med moored even more so. Also, as a transient you're often on a side tie. While you're there they pile more boats in and bring them closer. When exiting against the wind with only 3 or 4' fore and aft, then I'm sure glad to have them.
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Old 01-16-2015, 09:33 PM   #55
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My wife's family is from Charleston/Mt Pleasant/Isle of Palms and we think of the area as our second home. Yes, the currents can be treacherous. Over one summer vacation, a guy drowned in strong current at Ft. Moultrie in front of my horrified sister-in-law. Another couple drowned at Breach inlet when a girl swam in after her struggling boyfriend. A year to two after that, my son almost drowned rescuing a girl caught in a rip current as we watched helplessly from the shore. A fantastic area, but definitely some difficult spots where it pays to have your s**t together.
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Old 01-17-2015, 11:30 AM   #56
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I can put the bow of my Sporty anywhere I want it. Big props and no keel help with that. My trawler is not so manuverable. Its a twin but has much smaller props tucked up closer (less clean water) and a good sized keel. Plus being much heavier and longer with the props closer together. I've never "needed" a thruster but I would absolutely love to have one. Or two. A 2x oversized hydraulic bow thruster and a similar stern thruster would be to much fun.
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Old 01-20-2015, 01:29 AM   #57
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This may be a little off topic but it just shows what happens when a boater is too stubborn to allow help from another boater............
It was back in my guide days and I had just finished a trip and headed back to the launch ramp with my customers. It was very windy and waves were pounding the docks from several directions. I did my typical forward and reverse back and forth routine and glided the boat up to the dock like i had done a million times. The customer just stand up and steps off.

Now then there was this family who clearly been out too long in the sun and maybe had a few too many, (that I am not sure of) any way his boat was all over the place, first against this dock then the other dock and side ways on his trailer and his family was not much help and to make things worse he had a little fellow, not much more then 5 if that standing there by the winch on the trailer.....

After about a half hour watching him as he refused my our help he decided to pull the trailer up out of the water a bit and crank his boat up on now a dry trailer..... I told him that was not a wise idea and that he needed to stop..... Wow he acted as if I was threatening him or something......

Well he gets about 2 inches of the bow up against the end of the trailer which is out of the water and begins to crank.......all the while he has his son the little guy standing there on the trailer tongue helping crank. I about lost it........It was all he could do to turn the handle a click or two at a time with two hands and that rope was stretching beyond anything I could say......

Again I told him to stop and let me help him and he growled and by this time I was very scared for his kid so I told him at least get his son out of harms range before he gets seriously hurt or killed and that did not fly at all. My customers wanted to kick his tail but I said No stay out of it.........

After a while he got the boat about half way up on the trailer or so and then it happened.....
crack...swoooosh......thud......screams of bloody murder..........the rope broke and snapped back and drove the hook into his sons head.........I have no idea what happened after that for all I can remember was his wife yelling in a strange language as they jumped into the vehicle and flew up the ramp and headed out of the park with a boat 3\4 of the way on the trailer and not fastened down......No cell phones that day.......now I don't go out without one.
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Old 01-20-2015, 01:47 AM   #58
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Just push your way in, but be sure you have thick rubber padding on the bow.





Individual slips are a foreign concept to Europeans.
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Old 01-20-2015, 01:49 AM   #59
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Just push your way in, but be sure you have thick rubber padding on the bow.





Individual slips are a foreign concept to Europeans.
sheesh now I get it !!
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Old 01-20-2015, 01:57 AM   #60
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Our captain "mucked around" for several minutes trying to squeeze between boats. Finally, at least one other captain cooperated and made room.


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