Bow Thruster on a 33 Footer, Really? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 32 Old 09-19-2016 Thread Starter
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Bow Thruster on a 33 Footer, Really?

I've been looking at a boat 33 foot full keel boat. The current owner felt it necessary to have the boatyard bore a big hole clean through the hull in the bow and install a bow thruster. He's an old guy (I'm an old guy, but I doubt if I would feel compelled to do this).

I've never seen a bow thruster on a boat this small. Do people feel that this is really necessary or helpful on a boat this small? Is this guy just a nervous Nelly and someone who has bad boat handling skills? Or is this something that is really helpful and necessary?
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post #2 of 32 Old 09-19-2016
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Re: Bow Thruster on a 33 Footer, Really?

Obviously they do. The 33 footer is not small enough... see this Catalina 25 :-)
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post #3 of 32 Old 09-19-2016
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Re: Bow Thruster on a 33 Footer, Really?

I own a 33 Morgan Out Island, and have seriously thought about installing a bow thruster for several reasons. First and foremost, full keel sailboats have a big problem backing down into a slip. Sometimes they propwalk left, while other times it will walk to the right - weird!

Next, there are lots of marinas with very narrow fairways, which make getting into a slip nearly impossible without either having someone help pull the boat in via the pilings, or have someone on the dock toss you a rope to pull you backwards while you fend off your boat from the others.

There are also times when you encounter a combination of things beyond the control capabilities of a single engine, crosswinds, opposing tides, and narrow canal or fairway, all trying to send your boat into harm's way. While I was in Marathon, there were times when I entered the canal when my boat was docked that I had a strong, following wind. Trying to turn the boat around in the canal under those conditions, between dozens of other boats docked on both sides of the canal, was nearly impossible. However, there was a 75-foot power yacht that had a thruster and did this with ease.

A thruster on a sailboat is a great asset.

Gary
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post #4 of 32 Old 09-19-2016
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Re: Bow Thruster on a 33 Footer, Really?

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I own a 33 Morgan Out Island, and have seriously thought about installing a bow thruster for several reasons.
With all due respect I'd suggest you get an autopilot before looking at bow thrusters.

sail fast and eat well, dave S/V Auspicious

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post #5 of 32 Old 09-19-2016
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Re: Bow Thruster on a 33 Footer, Really?

I'm an old guy too, and don't need a bow thruster to maneuver my 35' boat, but there have been a few times when one would have been convenient.

There was a time when I stopped at a gas dock and, upon leaving, there was a strong current pushing me into a shallow area. I maneuvered out of it, but it was dicey, and a favorable outcome would have been easier to achieve with a thruster.

Another time, as I was leaving my slip, a sudden gust blew my bow downwind into an area where I had barely enough room to rotate my boat to get it out of there.

In both instances I managed, but a bow thruster would have made it much easier.

I don't feel a need to install one on my boat, but I wouldn't fault someone for doing so if he lacked the self confidence to cope with the occasional unexpected situation. If that's what it takes for a person to get in and out without damaging either his boat or someone else's it's OK by me.
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Re: Bow Thruster on a 33 Footer, Really?

Dave, I almost purchased an autopilot this spring, then my health went to Hell and now I've having serious thoughts about selling the boat because of my rapidly deteriorating lung condition. The AP I looked at had excellent reviews, but it was also very expensive. Order a new CPT Autopilot - CPT Autopilot Inc.

I'm off to see the pulmonary doctor on Wednesday, but I seriously doubt that anything can be done. I have asbestosis, which is 100 percent fatal. Unfortunately, I worked in this field for 15 years and I am well aware of how much time I have remaining and what is in store for me in the very near future. I now sail with an oxygen generator on the boat. So, a bow thruster would make like a bit easier while docking the old tub, especially in high winds and strong currents.

All the best,

Gary
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post #7 of 32 Old 09-19-2016
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Re: Bow Thruster on a 33 Footer, Really?

I saw a sister ship to mine, a Nor'sea 27, with a bow thruster. Not sure I would consider it a necessity on a boat my size but perhaps the owner needed it for maneuvering in tight spaces.

I do find it unusual for that Catalina 25 to have one, but it's just not for me.

Daniel
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post #8 of 32 Old 09-19-2016
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Re: Bow Thruster on a 33 Footer, Really?

They're becoming the norm nowadays. Even small powerboats are equipped with both bow and stern thrusters, and bigger power boats with twin screws have bow thrusters. We were just at a major marina here in the San Juans and we couldn't believe how many boats used their bow thrusters to make the turn at the end of the breakwater instead of just turning the wheel. Sheesh.

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post #9 of 32 Old 09-19-2016
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Who couldn't benefit from a thruster? Prop and rudder control the stern, thruster controls the bow.

I wouldn't want one personally, just because it's another system to maintain, but I have seen lots of people who struggle to control 33' boats. I know I have bad days with my 35', and I'm a pretty good boat handler.
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Re: Bow Thruster on a 33 Footer, Really?

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Originally Posted by travlin-easy View Post
I'm off to see the pulmonary doctor on Wednesday, but I seriously doubt that anything can be done.
I'm sorry to hear that Gary. Ultimately life is fatal. *grin* I wish you as much time as possible and all the joy you can squeeze in.
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sail fast and eat well, dave S/V Auspicious

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