Thruster Upgrades on a Camano Troll - Convince me not to do it

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jhance

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2017
Messages
236
Location
USA
Vessel Name
Audrey Grace
Vessel Make
2003 Camano 31
I have a 2003 Camano Troll and absolutely love the boat. However, wind presents a major challenge with docking/undocking. The boat is pretty light (10K pounds dry) with high windage, so any breeze really sends the boat moving. Especially when single-handing, this presents a major challenge when docking/undocking. Boat currently has a 5hp electric bow thruster. It's great, but any breeze over 10 knots or so and it doesn't keep up. I have had the boat for seven years and have had previous boats all my life, so I consider my handling skills to be very good, and I understand and exploit all the physics of boat handling. My goal is to be able to take the anxiety out of docking/undocking as much as possible and to have the most powerful thrusters available so I can more comfortably operate the boat better in wind. Also looking for modern technology of thrusters for better single-handing experience (Sidepower has a "pin to dock" function with remote so bow/stern thrusters keep boat pinned to dock).

So I am considering replacing the bow thruster and also adding a stern thruster. Maybe setting aside the discussion of price for the moment (latest bid to install both bow and stern thruster is $37K), I'd love to hear feedback. Price includes replacing the current 8" tunnel with the smaller tunnel for the Sidepower thruster. Below is my current model bow thruster (Keypower KP08E), and I am looking at going with the Sidepower models (SEP100). Stern thruster would likely be an SEP80 as I understand you want one size down on stern thrusters vs. bow thruster, considering the physics.


KP08E (current) - 5HP, 1200 RPM, 140# thrust, 320A, 12V, 8" tunnel
SEP100 (proposed) - 8.4HP, ? RPM, 256# thrust, 740A, 12V, 7.28" tunnel

Lots of hassle and very pricey, but if it lets me turn our nearly-perfect boat into a more perfect boat, may be worth it. The ultimate goal is finding that perfect boat, is it not?
 
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I would never spend roughly 1/3 of the value of a boat on a single upgrade. You can install an independent stern thruster that you can use with the existing bow thruster and get 90% of the performance for a small fraction of the cost of an integrated bow/stern system.

David
 
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I've never seen the purpose of a stern thruster. You've already got a bow thruster.

You need more time to practice and larger fenders.
 
I have a 2003 Camano Troll and absolutely love the boat. However, wind presents a major challenge with docking/undocking. The boat is pretty light (10K pounds dry) with high windage, so any breeze really sends the boat moving. Especially when single-handing, this presents a major challenge when docking/undocking. Boat currently has a 5hp electric bow thruster. It's great, but any breeze over 10 knots or so and it doesn't keep up. I have had the boat for seven years and have had previous boats all my life, so I consider my handling skills to be very good, and I understand and exploit all the physics of boat handling. My goal is to be able to take the anxiety out of docking/undocking as much as possible and to have the most powerful thrusters available so I can more comfortably operate the boat better in wind. Also looking for modern technology of thrusters for better single-handing experience (Sidepower has a "pin to dock" function with remote so bow/stern thrusters keep boat pinned to dock).

So I am considering replacing the bow thruster and also adding a stern thruster. Maybe setting aside the discussion of price for the moment (latest bid to install both bow and stern thruster is $37K), I'd love to hear feedback. Price includes replacing the current 8" tunnel with the smaller tunnel for the Sidepower thruster. Below is my current model bow thruster (Keypower KP08E), and I am looking at going with the Sidepower models (SEP100). Stern thruster would likely be an SEP80 as I understand you want one size down on stern thrusters vs. bow thruster, considering the physics.


KP08E (current) - 5HP, 1200 RPM, 140# thrust, 320A, 12V, 8" tunnel
SEP100 (proposed) - 8.4HP, ? RPM, 256# thrust, 740A, 12V, 7.28" tunnel

Lots of hassle and very pricey, but if it lets me turn our nearly-perfect boat into a more perfect boat, may be worth it. The ultimate goal is finding that perfect boat, is it not?



I like David’s comment. Lots of money for not much more than just adding a separate stern thruster. That said, “ pin to dock” would be pretty cool in adverse conditions while single handed.
5hp is a bit anemic, as you have noticed. Can you just upgrade the motor to the 10hp version and leave the rest of the gear as is?
Most folks who discount the value of a stern thruster either never had one or do not do a lot of docking in wind and current.
We have bow and stern thrusters and together they reduce stress and enable us to get into slips that I would never have attempted with prior boats that were less equipped.
Anything similar to your plan will require quite a bit more battery and cabling to support the higher current draw.
 
I have had the boat for seven years and have had previous boats all my life, so I consider my handling skills to be very good, and I understand and exploit all the physics of boat handling. My goal is to be able to take the anxiety out of docking/undocking as much as possible and to have the most powerful thrusters available so I can more comfortably operate the boat better in wind. Also looking for modern technology of thrusters for better single-handing experience (Sidepower has a "pin to dock" function with remote so bow/stern thrusters keep boat pinned to dock).

Spring lines are really useful for getting and staying pinned to a dock.

I'm not trying to insult your abilities or experience, but it sounds like there might be opportunities to try some different boat handling techniques. Get another set of eyes from a coach/mentor who has experience with single engine inboards. Start a thread on how to maneuver effectively with your existing tool set. It can be done.

Also make sure your existing thruster battery bank is up to the task. Many are inadequate and contribute to anemic thruster performance.



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I can give you a few examples where a stern thruster would be handy:

1. Coming into the dock, starboard tie, you have the rudder hard to port to kick the stern into the dock. You realize you are coming in too hot (maybe because of wind/current), and you don't have time to turn the wheel 6 turns the other way to slow the movement of the stern down. Result is a heavy bump into the dock on said large fenders.

2. "Pin to dock" function when undocking when wind wants to blow the boat off the dock.

3. Where you want a true sideways-only motion of your boat into a tight spot. Yes, you can use power/rudder, but there is always a little forward motion with this that then needs to be corrected with reverse.

4. Quicker 360 degree turns in fairway when turning opposite prop walk. My boat prop walks to starboard in reverse. Doing a 360 degree turn to starboard, using back-and-fill, is not as quick as preferred, and in any wind/current, it can start to become problematic performing a tight quick turn to starboard within the boat's length.

30 years of practice and I'm still finding many situations where I want a stern thruster.

I've never seen the purpose of a stern thruster. You've already got a bow thruster.

You need more time to practice and larger fenders.
 
Anything similar to your plan will require quite a bit more battery and cabling to support the higher current draw.

I didn’t think about current draw and cabling. Current draw, even with your existing bow thruster and a new simple stern thruster will easily pull close to 500 amps and maybe double that with your $37K scheme. That is big diesel cranking current and you will need to upgrade your starting battery to two G31s at a minimum. Or put two G31s dedicated to the thrusters fore and aft and keep them charged with combiners. Wire them up with 4/0.

David
 
I knew I'd get a little bit of "you need to practice more" with this thread. No worries - I'm OK with that. But I can tell you that's not the issue as the problems I have mentioned are more a function of high windage, "low" thrust of thruster, and a light-weight boat in wind and current. I have my 50T USCG merchant mariner's license with 30 years boating experience in the PNW, and while I think you can never have too much practice, the issue is not unfamiliarity with my equipment. It's more of an equipment-specific issue when trying to operate in more adverse conditions.

Spring lines are really useful for getting and staying pinned to a dock.

I'm not trying to insult your abilities or experience, but it sounds like there might be opportunities to try some different boat handling techniques. Get another set of eyes from a coach/mentor who has experience with single engine inboards. Start a thread on how to maneuver effectively with your existing tool set. It can be done.

Also make sure your existing thruster battery bank is up to the task. Many are inadequate and contribute to anemic thruster performance.



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Due to the increase in thruster threads I have made myself be aware of them being used around me in marinas.
I recently watched a boat finally land and the captan sit in the chair for like a half hour composing himself afer the sound of a portable cement mixer was put into continuous operation.
I then watched a similar boat captain that drove the boat under control and just tap thruster to tweak the soft landing. Same day, same wind.

There is no talking you out of this upgrade, no good reason to suggest. Hope it works out for. We are all different in abilities to operate a boat. For the next guy that asks, please post how the install upgrade was worth it.

BTW, no one is saying single or twins. That alone makes a BIG difference to boat handling.
 
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I have a 4HP thruster on a boat that weighs 22K. I'm not questioning your experience, but I am going to suggest that technique might be considered more thoroughly.

I say this because I want to make sure you don't spend (waste) a lot of money unnecessarily.

There are many trawlers out there that have been doing this without any thrusters for many decades. My bow thruster died for a season and I learned a lot that year.

I'm not going to lecture on my methods, that wasn't your question. I just strongly urge you to reconsider.

If you still think more horizontal thrust is what you need, then consider buying the boat that better meets your needs. Most upgrades only allow the boat to sell more quickly, they rarely get more money, and never recover all of the investment (Translation, don't buy an amazing thruster system for the next guy).
 
I'd try to figure out how to keep your existing 8" tube, replace that thruster with a larger one and then re-purpose your old bow thruster to become your stern thruster. That'd at least save you some money.
While I appreciate all those who say that you just need to improve your boat handling I also believe that you might as well have all the help that you can get, or afford.
 
Hello all, I'd like to she my brandnew experience. With my old boat ( air draught 2.5 M, length 10.5 M, displacement 8 metric ton, single inboard diesel) no thrusters at all. In 20 years of operation, be it inland only, very VERY rarely had to retry docking. My new boat ( 10 days navigating experience with it) a Greenline 33, ( air draught 3.10 M, length 10.0 M, displacement 7 ton, single diesel' NON hybrid) behaves totally different, I dear not dream of sailing it without bow and stern thrusters.
 
I knew I'd get a little bit of "you need to practice more" with this thread. No worries - I'm OK with that.

Good.

On a hopefully more constructive note, my single engine boat came with a bow and stern thruster. I can't deny the utility of a stern thruster, and can even understand the financial justification. So by all means add a stern thruster. In my case the stern thruster failed terminally at about 8k miles. I'm at 14k now and haven't missed it enough to spend the required $6k to replace it. That's my value decision, and probably reflects more on my lean boat budget than anything else. When my bow thruster failed I was ready to pay whatever it took to keep it operational.

5 HP doesn't seem to me to be too small for that boat. I can't see any financial justification for changing the bow thruster.

So spend 9k for a stern thruster, and 1k for new batteries and cabling for your bow thruster, and see how close you get to your ideal.

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I'd try to figure out how to keep your existing 8" tube, replace that thruster with a larger one and then re-purpose your old bow thruster to become your stern thruster. That'd at least save you some money.
While I appreciate all those who say that you just need to improve your boat handling I also believe that you might as well have all the help that you can get, or afford.

To me this is the best suggestion so far. I think you could likely "sleeve" the 8" tunnel to a smaller size with some off the shelf fiberglass tubing to get down to the 7.28" or 185mm size thruster. That should be fairly cheap to do.

I have an 8HP Lewmar 185TT on my boat, and at times with strong winds or current it is not enough. So I know the OP's feeling. But I'm 50' and 55,000 lbs. At the time 8HP was about the biggest possible with 12V. But as I was installing a battery bank in the bow next to the thruster I ought to have gone up to 24V and installed a larger thruster. And sure, more often than not I dock without even using the thruster. But when I do need it, I want it to give a strong push....
 
For someone who’s been used to piloting single screw vessels, a stern thruster can be extremely helpful and intuitive to use. You’re used to pushing the stern around with prop and rudder already, and the stern thruster adds a very nice bump whenever you might want one.
The combination of bow and stern are ideal in my opinion. Once you have them, and figure out where the boats pivot point is it’s effortless to get into tight places you’d probably not try for without them.
Only you can say if it’s worth it or not. I make decisions like this based on my needs or wants, not the resale value or dollar returned when selling. I also tend to keep my boats for a very long time.
 
don't do it. There, I tried to talk you out of it.

I agree with Sean9 in post #11 as well. That 37k seems high.
One of my favs to run is the BackCove 41'. A single Cummins, and powerful bow/stern thrust. Its a dream to get in & out of shows.
 
Many will say you don’t need them - just learn to pilot better, practice, spring lines, etc. I say anything you add to that list that makes your boating, safer, less stressful or more enjoyable, go for it. I have twins, a large keel which is very sensitive to current and a heavy boat with a high bow & significant windage. I have Sidepower bow & stern thrusters and love em. Like one previous poster stated, most times a quick burst here & there added to decent piloting makes all the difference. I can bring the boat parallel to the dock and then move sideways the last 3 ft. (I can’t see the rub rails from my wheel position). Occasionally, it hits the fan and I’m on the thrusters hard & long.
If u go with Sidepower, consider adding the Bluetooth wireless remote. I use it most in locks, for adjusting lines especially when casting off, holding the boat to the dock with occasional short bursts until I get the last lines off & step aboard as I essentially single hand and my admiral cannot do the dock line work.
 
thoughts.

your current KP8 puts out 140 foot pounds of thrust.
the E100 puts out 750 foot pounds of thrust.

without digging in deep and doing calculations my hunch is you are spening a large sum to hugely overpower the boat, I think you can probaly acheive your goal of adequate additional control for far less money than completely changing over to a new thruster.

just a cursiory look at the Keypower brochure and you can see the Hydraulic version of your 8" puts out 250 foot pounds of thrust and the 24v 10' also puts out 250 foot pounds of thrust.

140 ft lbs to 250 ft lbs is a 70% increase in thrust.
140 ft lbs to 750 ft lbs is a 550% increase in thrust.

cool but way overkill.

I would look into 2 options.

1. switch the 12v electric motor for a hydraulic motor.
2. Switch the 12v motor for a 24v motor.

either way you would need to make changes to supply motor power and each will have pro's and cons

since it is unknown what a 24v 8" would produce I would start by calling Kobelt and see if you can get some guidence ( doubtfull as their customer service kinda sucks ) or at least some technical liteture on each of the models so you can make some educated calculations/guesses.

having a shipyard install a fullblown marine hydraulic system is not likely to be cost effective which is a bummer because its the better option, however it isn't beytond the abilities of a compentent DIY

last thought for now, step one should be to verfiy your current system is actually operating to maxium capacity. this will require getting a technician onboad to verify your system is actually delivering the rated 320 amps to the motor, from my experiance this has a high probability of being your real issue and it may turn out that a refit of your power cablling and supply battery setup could cure your problem.

if you want to hear the story of the 24v bow thruster in a 59 Salene that caught fire in the locks at the Panama Canal during one of my deliveries I'll be happy to share, moral of the story ….. few people do maintance to their Bow thruster power supply
 
I personally would just add the stern thruster and then use the boat and assess the situation from there.
 
Thank you for your comments. I can replace the current 12V motor for a 24V, but it only gets me a couple more HP. Kobelt says the motor is actually about 4HP, and a 24V motor that would fit it is about 6HP. Lotta effort for 2HP.

Where are you getting the 750# of thrust? The Sidepower SEP100 is 256# thrust.

I looked into hydraulic, but it's the same if not more expensive than staying electric. Voltage at the motor is fine. Haven't looked at amps - good point.

As others have mentioned, thrusters are nice to have when you need them. I don't hear those with thrusters saying, "I wish I didn't have them." Can you get by without them? In most cases, sure. But those most cases are probably when you're out cruising in calm conditions. If cruising in any wind, why would you NOT want the most powerful thrusters imaginable?

I don't plan on selling the boat for many years, if ever. As someone mentioned, resale value isn't a major consideration. Could I get a different boat that checks off all my wants? Maybe, if I want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more. $37K investment on current boat, which I love, kinda pales in comparison when you think of it that way. PO of my boat said he wanted a bigger boat but didn't want to spend that kind of money, so instead he invested in canvas to create extra "living" space in the cockpit and flybridge. Canvas work had to be crazy expensive, but not as much as a new bigger boat. I think of these things in the pursuit of finding the perfect boat, right? After seven years ownership of my Camano, to this day I haven't found a better setup for our family, all things considered. So addressing any "sore" points of my current setup can be argued especially considering the lower overall cost of making those upgrades versus a whole new boat. Also have to consider my current thruster equipment is now over 20 years old, and I know other Camano owners who are dealing with equipment replacement at or new this mark anyway. Still making up my mind - wish I could get the cost down, and lots of great suggestions here to do that. I appreciate everyone's comments!

thoughts.

your current KP8 puts out 140 foot pounds of thrust.
the E100 puts out 750 foot pounds of thrust.

without digging in deep and doing calculations my hunch is you are spening a large sum to hugely overpower the boat, I think you can probaly acheive your goal of adequate additional control for far less money than completely changing over to a new thruster.

just a cursiory look at the Keypower brochure and you can see the Hydraulic version of your 8" puts out 250 foot pounds of thrust and the 24v 10' also puts out 250 foot pounds of thrust.

140 ft lbs to 250 ft lbs is a 70% increase in thrust.
140 ft lbs to 750 ft lbs is a 550% increase in thrust.

cool but way overkill.

I would look into 2 options.

1. switch the 12v electric motor for a hydraulic motor.
2. Switch the 12v motor for a 24v motor.

either way you would need to make changes to supply motor power and each will have pro's and cons

since it is unknown what a 24v 8" would produce I would start by calling Kobelt and see if you can get some guidence ( doubtfull as their customer service kinda sucks ) or at least some technical liteture on each of the models so you can make some educated calculations/guesses.

having a shipyard install a fullblown marine hydraulic system is not likely to be cost effective which is a bummer because its the better option, however it isn't beytond the abilities of a compentent DIY

last thought for now, step one should be to verfiy your current system is actually operating to maxium capacity. this will require getting a technician onboad to verify your system is actually delivering the rated 320 amps to the motor, from my experiance this has a high probability of being your real issue and it may turn out that a refit of your power cablling and supply battery setup could cure your problem.

if you want to hear the story of the 24v bow thruster in a 59 Salene that caught fire in the locks at the Panama Canal during one of my deliveries I'll be happy to share, moral of the story ….. few people do maintance to their Bow thruster power supply
 
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If cruising in any wind, why would you NOT want the most powerful thrusters imaginable?

Because it's crazy money for marginal returns? It's one thing to over spec on a new installation. But tearing out a merely adequate unit to replace it with the most powerful thruster imaginable?

I'll shut up now.

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link to thrust
https://www.sleipnergroup.com/thruster-systems/thrusters/sep100-pro-tunnel-bow-stern-thruster-12v

I converted the Kg to ft pound in my head and missed it obviously… corect conversion is 100 kg thrust = 220 ft lbs. appologies


even so converting your current 12v 5hp to 24V 7 hp motor gets you a 40% increase in thrust. that is a huge jump !

maybe I missed it but what is your electrial system setup ?
alternator size ?
thruster dedicated battery bank capacity ?
charge wire size ?
supply wire size ?

how long can you continiously feed your current thruster 320 amps ?

if your batterises and wiring are not up to the task you may only be getting 5 seconds or less of full thrust before your batteries can not supply the amps and if you have a typical 110 amp alternator, well it's going to take a while to top off the batteries and obviously isn't going to run a thruster directly.

I have never looked at the Camano Troll close enough to critique build specs but I'll just say it is not uncommon for builders to under wire /battery supply for thrusters from the factory.

wire and batteries are expensive not to mention batteries are heavy and take up a good bit of space, areas many builder need to make concessions in the component selection process.
 
I took a look at the Kobelt website. Your existing KB 08E is 5hp, 12vdc and 320A, they make the KB 10E that is 10hp, 24vdc and 320A. Same tube size. You're basically doubling your amp draw, so likely doubling your power, whether it's 5 to 10 or 4 to 8. That'd seem like a pretty simple upgrade and you double your power. I've always thought that the Keypower now Kobelt was a really high quality, well built unit. I'd sure take that over a Sidepower any day.
Going to hydraulic is pretty much way overkill, not to mention expensive.



Thank you for your comments. I can replace the current 12V motor for a 24V, but it only gets me a couple more HP. Kobelt says the motor is actually about 4HP, and a 24V motor that would fit it is about 6HP. Lotta effort for 2HP.

Where are you getting the 750# of thrust? The Sidepower SEP100 is 256# thrust.

I looked into hydraulic, but it's the same if not more expensive than staying electric. Voltage at the motor is fine. Haven't looked at amps - good point.

As others have mentioned, thrusters are nice to have when you need them. I don't hear those with thrusters saying, "I wish I didn't have them." Can you get by without them? In most cases, sure. But those most cases are probably when you're out cruising in calm conditions. If cruising in any wind, why would you NOT want the most powerful thrusters imaginable?

I don't plan on selling the boat for many years, if ever. As someone mentioned, resale value isn't a major consideration. Could I get a different boat that checks off all my wants? Maybe, if I want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more. $37K investment on current boat, which I love, kinda pales in comparison when you think of it that way. PO of my boat said he wanted a bigger boat but didn't want to spend that kind of money, so instead he invested in canvas to create extra "living" space in the cockpit and flybridge. Canvas work had to be crazy expensive, but not as much as a new bigger boat. I think of these things in the pursuit of finding the perfect boat, right? After seven years ownership of my Camano, to this day I haven't found a better setup for our family, all things considered. So addressing any "sore" points of my current setup can be argued especially considering the lower overall cost of making those upgrades versus a whole new boat. Also have to consider my current thruster equipment is now over 20 years old, and I know other Camano owners who are dealing with equipment replacement at or new this mark anyway. Still making up my mind - wish I could get the cost down, and lots of great suggestions here to do that. I appreciate everyone's comments!
 
Trick question: Let's say that your goal is to push the boat sideways into a stiff wind.

You have a bow and stern thruster, each 5 HP.

Assuming you have adequate power to the thrusters and can run them forever, there is some wind strength beyond which you can't make progress. Let's for argument sake say that's 20 knots.

Now, what's the wind threshold you would have if you double thruster power? What if you triple it? How much power does it take to handle 40 knots?

That's boat handling physics. Have at it



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Attached is Sidepower's answer for a boat of my size. Bow can hold against a 27 knot wind with the 100kg thruster.

Trick question: Let's say that your goal is to push the boat sideways into a stiff wind.

You have a bow and stern thruster, each 5 HP.

Assuming you have adequate power to the thrusters and can run them forever, there is some wind strength beyond which you can't make progress. Let's for argument sake say that's 20 knots.

Now, what's the wind threshold you would have if you double thruster power? What if you triple it? How much power does it take to handle 40 knots?

That's boat handling physics. Have at it



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Attached is Sidepower's answer for a boat of my size. Bow can hold against a 27 knot wind with the 100kg thruster.
Excellent. Sorry I'm unable to view attachments on my phone. Do they cite how much wind a 50 kgf thruster can hold against?

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60kg: 21.2 knots; 80kg: 24.5 knots; 100kg: 27.4 knots.
Right. And you've got about 50kgf now. So my 20 knot guess aligns with those numbers.

What sort of wind threshold are you hoping to conquer? What's the required spec for 35 knot?



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I think there's theory and then there's boating. 20 knots is a pretty stiff wind and I have had several instances where there was "no way" and the wind was 20 knots or less keeping me pinned to the dock. As I said, give me the most powerful thruster possible. Why the hell not? On paper they say 27 knots, but what is it "really?"

P.S., spring off the dock, some of you might be thinking, when wind pins you to dock, but I have not found a way to do this in a Camano single-handing.


Right. And you've got about 50kgf now. So my 20 knot guess aligns with those numbers.

What sort of wind threshold are you hoping to conquer? What's the required spec for 35 knot?



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