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Old 11-30-2012, 10:33 PM   #1
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Bow Thruster vs Stern Thruster

Just had the boat hauled and bottom cleaned. While out of the water I discussed installation of bow thruster. Cost est about $10k. My boat has a single Lehman 120 and all the poor maunverability that comes with it. There are a couple of trawlers in our marina that have stern thrusters rather than bow thrusters. Does anyone have experience with thrusters and advice as to which is best. As further info boat backs to starboard.
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:54 PM   #2
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Bow thrusters are much more commonly offered compared to stern thrusters. One's propeller and rudder provides some control for the stern. Stands to reason a bow thruster would have higher priority than a stern one.

Find my Coot's bow thruster very handy.

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Old 11-30-2012, 11:00 PM   #3
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Bow Thruster

Thanks, any recommendations on best make for after market bow thruster.
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:17 PM   #4
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My experience here - Bowthruster

Might not suit you, but you should be aware of what you are paying a lot of money for.

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Old 11-30-2012, 11:41 PM   #5
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You already have a stern thruster-- the prop and rudder. So if you feel you need a thruster the bow would be the thing to get in my opinion. Even with a twin a bow thruster can come in handy because it lets you do something you can't do with either a single or a twin, and that is to move the bow straight sideways while leaving the stern where it is.
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:16 AM   #6
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Bow thruster

Thanks for your responses. Stern maneuverability to porn with prop and rudder is pretty difficult with this boat. In any case agree bow thruster makes most sense.

Cost quoted from yard in Sausalito rated at $108 PH labor plus motor & parts etc... Far beyond my skill level but sounds like a good idea to shop around.

Thanks!
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:37 AM   #7
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Not sure why it should be any harder to move the stern to port with the prop and rudder than to starboard. Prop walk has an influence but unless your boat has a very small rudder with very limited travel it should be able to easily overcome the prop walk influence. If you're talking about moving the stern when the boat is stationary in the water, try using more power to get the stern moving.

A lot of boaters, including me until a year or two ago, tend to leave their power at idle when maneuvering into and out of slips, up to a dock etc. But I finally watched enough tugs, lobsterboats, and fishboats maneuver to realize that power is every bit as helpful a tool as the wheel and the shifter(s). So now I use power, or bursts of power, all the time-- sometimes a lot of power momentarily--- and it has greatly improved both the speed and accuracy of putting the boat where I want it.
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Old 12-01-2012, 01:03 AM   #8
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Thanks, any recommendations on best make for after market bow thruster.
A bowthruster is what you need and there is a used one for sale on the Forum right now for $1250. Check out the classifieds.
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Old 12-01-2012, 01:18 AM   #9
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I would echo everyone else and say go for the bow thruster. I would add one thing though, if possible on your boat, I would go for hydraulic over electric. Electric thrusters are more tempramental and have limits on how long you can run them. We have hydraulic and would not have anything else.
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Old 12-01-2012, 01:29 AM   #10
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I would echo everyone else and say go for the bow thruster. I would add one thing though, if possible on your boat, I would go for hydraulic over electric. Electric thrusters are more tempramental and have limits on how long you can run them. We have hydraulic and would not have anything else.
Haven't ever used my bow thruster for more than several seconds at a time. I presume hydraulic is best, but electric has served me well.
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Old 12-01-2012, 04:18 AM   #11
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It will, as long as it's big enough. I got Wesmar to spec one for my boat, then went to the next largest size. It's a 24 volt system and has never let me down. Don't go too small because it's better to have too much power than too little.

Wesmar now makes a line of continuous duty electrics, which is what I'd buy if I were getting one now. They will run just like hydraulics, forever. Well, until the battery runs down!
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Old 12-01-2012, 05:23 AM   #12
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We only have a stern thruster, and while I would like a bow thruster too, stern only has treated us well. It's way cheaper to install too. Our is hydraulic with an endless run time. For now, it's fine and I could go forever with just a stern. It's really about preference. TBH, we have never had a bow thruster, so we don't know what we've been missing. I'm sure that a boat in our future will have a bow thruster, but if it doesn't have a stern, we'll add one.
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Old 12-01-2012, 06:23 AM   #13
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. Our is hydraulic with an endless run time.

One secret to success.

BE sure to read Da Book before you purchase an electric unit to see what the run/off time is.

Some (cheapos) have a very limited run and a very long cooling requirement.
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Old 12-01-2012, 06:57 AM   #14
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Our little single engine boat came with both bow and stern thrusters. Don't use them very much as we don't have to maneuver around in marinas, but when we do use them I actually find the stern thruster a bit more useful.
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:16 AM   #15
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Curt said:
"Just had the boat hauled and bottom cleaned. While out of the water I discussed installation of bow thruster. Cost est about $10k."

$10K, all in, may be a bit optimistic. My 11hp Lewmar with batteries, switches, inverter, redo flooring, labor etc was easily 2X $10K.
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:57 AM   #16
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Our boat came with both bow and stern thrusters. Didn't think much of them before I had them but with the Admiral and I being the only ones on board having them is a real advantage when docking in tight areas. The admiral is more comfortable as she has little to no experience with boating.

I would suggest bow thruster. I believe some people will go with a stern thruster over a bow due to installation cost, with the stern being much cheaper than the bow. Electric would also be my choice over hydraulic. They are much quieter to operate and you don't have to change filters.

As for installation costs, I think on average you are looking at the 10-12K range for a bow depending on the cost to install. Every boat is different and as pointed out there are some boats that as a result of the design will cost more.

With regards to run time. Generally speaking I have never run my units longer than a few seconds at a time. On a rare situation I have run for up to 1 minute. This was trying to overcome a beam wind walking the boat to the dock.
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:59 AM   #17
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Curt said:
"Just had the boat hauled and bottom cleaned. While out of the water I discussed installation of bow thruster. Cost est about $10k."

$10K, all in, may be a bit optimistic. My 11hp Lewmar with batteries, switches, inverter, redo flooring, labor etc was easily 2X $10K.
Why would you need an inverter to install a bow thruster?
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Old 12-01-2012, 10:44 AM   #18
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Not sure why it should be any harder to move the stern to port with the prop and rudder than to starboard. Prop walk has an influence but unless your boat has a very small rudder with very limited travel it should be able to easily overcome the prop walk influence. If you're talking about moving the stern when the boat is stationary in the water, try using more power to get the stern moving.

A lot of boaters, including me until a year or two ago, tend to leave their power at idle when maneuvering into and out of slips, up to a dock etc. But I finally watched enough tugs, lobsterboats, and fishboats maneuver to realize that power is every bit as helpful a tool as the wheel and the shifter(s). So now I use power, or bursts of power, all the time-- sometimes a lot of power momentarily--- and it has greatly improved both the speed and accuracy of putting the boat where I want it.
Well said. Low speed maneuvering requires judicious use of prop wash against the rudder, and that requires power. It took me about 5 years to figure it out, but once I did, turning a 12 ton full keel sailboat in her own length using forward and reverse prop wash against a big rudder was easy to do. When the rudder is small, more power is required, so it might behoove the OP to look into whatever mods could be made to the rudder to increase its size and effectiveness. Perhaps articulation is an option?

That said, thrusters are a blessing, especially for those boats around me in the line of fire.
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Old 12-01-2012, 10:57 AM   #19
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We only have a stern thruster, and while I would like a bow thruster too, stern only has treated us well. It's way cheaper to install too. Our is hydraulic with an endless run time. For now, it's fine and I could go forever with just a stern. It's really about preference. TBH, we have never had a bow thruster, so we don't know what we've been missing. I'm sure that a boat in our future will have a bow thruster, but if it doesn't have a stern, we'll add one.

We also have a 'Stern Thruster'. It allows you the finite maneuverability that is necessary in tight marinas and heavy currents. Simple math, will you get the $12K(bow thruster) from your boat when you sell it? Do you care?

My father has a bow thruster on his 34' CHB, I have driven both and find that they both equally achieve the intended goal. Finite movement. The rudder does NOT give you finite movement. As you know, the rudder is sloppy when in tight spots.

Good luck to the OP. Look up 'Side Shift' Stern thrusters on this forum for a North American made stern thruster that is pretty easy to install and performs excellent (made in Canada).
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:14 AM   #20
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Ron said:
"Why would you need an inverter to install a bow thruster?"

Boat is 12V and thruster motor is 24V
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