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Old 08-29-2020, 09:32 PM   #41
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Just remember that thrusters are designed for short bursts to help your engines, they are not meant to steer your vessel.
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Old 08-29-2020, 09:40 PM   #42
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I have a pair of Dickson hydraulic thrusters on my single engine 41'
I like them alot. Refurbished them completely 2 years ago when I purchased the boat and was extremely impressed with the quality of the components. They are a great aid in short handed old folks docking. No running and jumping. I can engage the thrusters and paste my boat against my finger dock while leaving the helm and stepping off the boat to get a couple of lines attached , reboard and disengage thrusters.
Very sweet !
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Old 08-29-2020, 09:41 PM   #43
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Just remember that thrusters are designed for short bursts to help your engines, they are not meant to steer your vessel.
My diabolical plan may not work then. I was hoping to be able to use it/them for a little "nudging," if necessary, while short-handed in locks. The engine has to be off in many of them (understandably), so by definition the thruster(s) would not be helping the engines.

(Before buying anything based on this, I would have contacted the thruster mfgr to double check.)
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Old 08-29-2020, 09:48 PM   #44
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My diabolical plan may not work then. I was hoping to be able to use it/them for a little "nudging," if necessary, while short-handed in locks. The engine has to be off in many of them (understandably), so by definition the thruster(s) would not be helping the engines.

(Before buying anything based on this, I would have contacted the thruster mfgr to double check.)
Interesting. How do you get into the lock with the engines off?

[Once tied up engines off, by then you don't need the thruster(s)].
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Old 08-29-2020, 11:00 PM   #45
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My diabolical plan may not work then. I was hoping to be able to use it/them for a little "nudging," if necessary, while short-handed in locks. The engine has to be off in many of them (understandably), so by definition the thruster(s) would not be helping the engines.

(Before buying anything based on this, I would have contacted the thruster mfgr to double check.)
I think you're ahead of your time :-). None of the locks prohibit engine operation when not secured.
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Old 08-29-2020, 11:02 PM   #46
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Interesting. How do you get into the lock with the engines off?

[Once tied up engines off, by then you don't need the thruster(s)].
The way it works is that you motor into the lock and get situated, then shut off your engines. Once everyone is set, they commence the up or down lock.

Sometimes it can be very windy in the locks, with williwaw type wind bursts; and also there is extra turbulence on "up" locks due to the water up-welling as it flows in, especially at certain spots in the lock. At that point your bow or stern can tend to want to get tossed around. That's when (especially single-handing), I could see potential benefit in giving a "tap" on the remote for a bow thruster.
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Old 08-29-2020, 11:55 PM   #47
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I think you're ahead of your time :-). None of the locks prohibit engine operation when not secured.
I'm thinking about after I'm secured and engines off. I've seen so many boats get cattywampus with either the bow or stern going out/in. Usually looks like it's a flukey wind or an upwelling when they fill the lock. And that's with two people. Solo and without good side decks (it's all a compromise), I could see having that type of "rotation" problem on the way up or down.

(A friend had this happen and did over a boat buck's worth of damage to his starboard side outboard motor cowling when it contacted the lock wall -- and they had two line handlers -- I guess they were right next to a "jacuzzi" spot on the wall.) (Maybe even a thruster would be useless against that kind of force, but I imagine there are "lesser" times it could come in handy.)

Anyway, I just thought it could potentially be one thing in a bag of tricks, not the only way. And the boats I've looked at that have negligeable side decks, do already have bow thrusters.
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Old 08-30-2020, 12:07 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by menzies View Post
Just remember that thrusters are designed for short bursts to help your engines, they are not meant to steer your vessel.
Hydraulic thrusters like the Dickson can remain engaged for extended periods. The switch on mine actually does not self center so it can be left in the engaged position.
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Old 08-30-2020, 12:29 AM   #49
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I'm thinking about after I'm secured and engines off. I've seen so many boats get cattywampus with either the bow or stern going out/in. Usually looks like it's a flukey wind or an upwelling when they fill the lock. And that's with two people. Solo and without good side decks (it's all a compromise), I could see having that type of "rotation" problem on the way up or down.

(A friend had this happen and did over a boat buck's worth of damage to his starboard side outboard motor cowling when it contacted the lock wall -- and they had two line handlers -- I guess they were right next to a "jacuzzi" spot on the wall.) (Maybe even a thruster would be useless against that kind of force, but I imagine there are "lesser" times it could come in handy.)

Anyway, I just thought it could potentially be one thing in a bag of tricks, not the only way. And the boats I've looked at that have negligeable side decks, do already have bow thrusters.
Yep. Agree on the challenges with wind, and am slowly coming around to accepting 21st century solutions. Sorry for being snarky earlier.

[rant]
Whether your friend would have benefitted from a thruster is doubtful in my mind. I've seen countless examples of people bashing their sterns into lock walls when exiting because they don't understand that turning the wheel moves the stern rather than the bow. And lots of them are under the firm belief that they need a stern thruster for next season to solve that problem.
[/rant]
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Old 08-30-2020, 01:23 AM   #50
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Thanks for posting back. You're one of my canal "heroes" (read your blog after the side deck discussion a couple weeks ago and that is just the sort of cruising I look forward to). Looked at a few Mainship 34's on YW, too. They are a nice looking boat, simple in a good way, and even though there is no helm door, the sidedecks are palatial compared to having none.

I hear you on the "back wheel steer." I grew up with outboards on small boats so it seems normal to me. You can always tell at a Home Depot when people get those carts that steer from the back whether or not they have ever operated a forklift or outboard motor ...

What I can't get used to (yet) is the darned wheel! Give me a tiller and everything seems normal. The wheel still seems backwards so I still have to think tiller as if I were out back and then mentally translate to being forward with a wheel - but hopefully that will change with time. You'd think a wheel would be easier but it's hard to overcome motor and brain memory.

In my buddy's case, not sure what happened. It was partway through locking up in one of the big river locks (not canal). My guess is that they had gotten a bit casual because they had been doing all "down" locks up until then, and then they were in an up lock and also next to a Jacuzzi, and the bow line got out of control. Maybe bow crew was just holding it and didn't have any turns on a cleat (my guess). Ultimately it all got repaired and didn't put them off.

OP: Sorry to have dragged this so far off-topic, but hopefully you did get enough suggestions for a stern thruster. Nice Sundowner - that is going to make a great loop boat. And you have side doors!
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Old 08-30-2020, 04:29 AM   #51
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Thanks for posting back. You're one of my canal "heroes" (read your blog after the side deck discussion a couple weeks ago and that is just the sort of cruising I look forward to). Looked at a few Mainship 34's on YW, too. They are a nice looking boat, simple in a good way, and even though there is no helm door, the sidedecks are palatial compared to having none.

I hear you on the "back wheel steer." I grew up with outboards on small boats so it seems normal to me. You can always tell at a Home Depot when people get those carts that steer from the back whether or not they have ever operated a forklift or outboard motor ...

What I can't get used to (yet) is the darned wheel! Give me a tiller and everything seems normal. The wheel still seems backwards so I still have to think tiller as if I were out back and then mentally translate to being forward with a wheel - but hopefully that will change with time. You'd think a wheel would be easier but it's hard to overcome motor and brain memory.

In my buddy's case, not sure what happened. It was partway through locking up in one of the big river locks (not canal). My guess is that they had gotten a bit casual because they had been doing all "down" locks up until then, and then they were in an up lock and also next to a Jacuzzi, and the bow line got out of control. Maybe bow crew was just holding it and didn't have any turns on a cleat (my guess). Ultimately it all got repaired and didn't put them off.

OP: Sorry to have dragged this so far off-topic, but hopefully you did get enough suggestions for a stern thruster. Nice Sundowner - that is going to make a great loop boat. And you have side doors!



I can tell you, after many years and ~1500 locks that thrusters are EXCELLENT for making "corrections" when needed. If it's a really turbulent lock and your bow thruster is not very deep in the water, it might suck air between the wavelets and not be very effective. I find this is the exception, rather than the norm, however. If a "correction" needs to be made, it's usually to bring the stern in with the stern thruster. This automatically moves the bow away from the wall. If I had to choose a single thruster to install...and planned to do a lot of locking, it would be a stern thruster, not a bow thruster.
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Old 08-30-2020, 05:45 AM   #52
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Thanks, Scott. That's useful info. Interesting about stern thrusting in to push bow out (vs. tapping out w/the bow thruster).

BTW, I have very much enjoyed your various canal and lock posts and photos
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Old 08-30-2020, 08:01 AM   #53
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My (ex) boat also had a Dickson hydraulic stern thruster that the previous owner installed.
It worked great, it never times out like an electric one can. There were times that I would leave it on for minutes to hold me against a piling or dock while I secured lines.
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Old 08-30-2020, 08:17 AM   #54
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Interesting. How do you get into the lock with the engines off?

[Once tied up engines off, by then you don't need the thruster(s)].
"Tied up" is a relative term.
Some locks have cables with a lot of slack and allow boats to bounce around in wind or turbulence.
Others have loose lines only fastened at to of the lock wall. They provide little ability to "tie off"
Also some locks allow running engines for control... others all engines must be shut down.
I have used my thrusters in locks to assist my mate and we both appreciate the ability to do without being at the helm.
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Old 08-30-2020, 10:11 AM   #55
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Stern Thruster recommendation

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I am planning to add a stern thruster over the winter. What do you guys use, like and recommend. It is for the 32' boat in my avatar weighs 18,000 - 20,000 lbs. Thanks.

I posted a similar question about a stern thruster for a Mainship 400 single screw and I got similar responses about learning to drive.


Here is one piece of advise I got. If you do decide to buy and your boat calls for a particular size, buy the next more powerful thruster. In my case I sized a Side Power SE80. The next larger size is a SE100. The more powerful thruster has less the run time and moves the boat faster and the cost is not that much more. Sidepower has a great website and even an estimator of the parts you'll need. I haven't done it yet but may in the future.
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Old 08-30-2020, 12:08 PM   #56
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Stern Thruster

I had a Side-Power Stern thruster installed on my 2007 Mainship Pilot 430 in 2013. It has worked great since day one. I would call it a luxury versus a necessity but having had it for a number of years now I would not go back.
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Old 08-30-2020, 12:22 PM   #57
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I had a Side-Power Stern thruster installed on my 2007 Mainship Pilot 430 in 2013. It has worked great since day one. I would call it a luxury versus a necessity but having had it for a number of years now I would not go back.

Hi E-Sea Going,


Do you have any issues with the water jet from the thrust hitting your trim tabs? I tested a Greenline 39 with a thruster installation such as yours (in between trim tabs) and the thruster basically didn't work. I don't know what they ended up doing, but something had to be re-done for sure.


Your installation may work just fine, but I bring this up here because I see it as a bit of roulette risk installing a stern, hooded, tunnel thruster with tabs one either side. If I had tabs, I would seriously consider a retractable thruster under the boat. Or...changing the tabs out for interceptors (which is what I have, actually).
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Old 08-30-2020, 12:29 PM   #58
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I think you're ahead of your time :-). None of the locks prohibit engine operation when not secured.

This is where having electric propulsion comes in handy
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Old 08-30-2020, 02:05 PM   #59
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I had not experienced any thrust interference with the trim tabs. The stern thruster is actually more powerful than the bow. I can side in and out of tight spots along seawall docking and have to use the bow more than stern to stay parallel to the dock. loaded up the boat is roughly 40,000 lbs.
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Old 08-30-2020, 03:05 PM   #60
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Scott - My stern is similar to E-Sea Going and I haven't had any issues with interference. In fact my feeling is my stern T is more effective than the B... maybe it's just that it is quieter and seems to be effective with less noticable noise.

You will always get the nay sayers but I say just ignore them.

Mine came with both B & S thrusters or I might not have both. I do like having both and feel a little more comfortable with the redundancy - which is one of the nay sayers frequent warnings... what do you do when it quits?
I do and recommend practicing without thrusters periodically for the possibility that they don't work.
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