Both the thruster and get home option are pretty big subjects with the Manatee, but both are manageable. Bob Anderson aboard Mango Mama recently installed a stern thruster here in Sarasota. I'll talk to the Yard and see how difficult it was and what model he used, but I know it is a conventional style with an interior motor. My Admiral and I are heatedly debating the value of putting one on Bucky before we leave for the Loop in late March. She wants learn how to handle the boat and with a lot of marina stays on the schedule, a stern thruster might be a welcome asset on windy days and narrow fairways.
There's several alternatives to consider about the get-home kit. First and foremost is Towing insurance. Second is a probably a high-thrust dinghy outboard on a transom bracket or swim platform. We've installed a swim platform and are building the ladder and bracket for that purpose, but we've also moved the genset from under the galley to a new hatch under the veranda so that the shaft of the genset motor is directly over the prop shaft. Having the two shafts alligned gives us a future option, but the engineering required to maintain balanced forces on the main prop shaft and seals is anything but simple.
"When life gets hard, eat marshmallows”.