Bow & Stern Thrusters
Boat thrusters make close-quarter maneuvering easy.
Boat thrusters make docking boats a breeze, even in tight slips. The technology that has allowed larger boats to move sideways more easily is now also available for smaller vessels. Having a bow thruster or stern thruster gives a boat the ultimate in maneuverability and touch panel or joystick controls allow a captain to easily dock.
Bow thrusters come in a variety of configurations, each with unique features that make them well-suited for different needs. Bow thrusters are installed in a tunnel that goes through the hull so the propellers can easily push the boat from side to side as it docks. West Marine offers a wide selection of bow thrusters, which apart from increasing a boat’s maneuverability, add structural stability to the hull. Of course, tunnel thrusters require holes below the waterline and so require ample space and professional fitting and installation. The amount of power you need to smoothly swing your bow will depend on the profile of your boat—more bulk up front will require more power.
Retractable thrusters are internally mounted and fold in to reduce drag and are a good option when a boat doesn’t have the draft space. Foldable thrusters use shorter tunnels that are specifically designed to be more efficient and less noisy, as the tunnel is outside the hull and not within it. This style does still require a decent internal space to place the thruster when it is folded up and you will experience some downtime as they unfold into place with each use.
Externally Mounted Thrusters
Another solution is the externally mounted thruster. Ideal for smaller boats with little available interior space, the propeller and motor attach directly to the hull in the place that will make the thruster most efficient. While the thruster technology on this style is relatively quiet and easy to install, it does create an obstruction on the hull, which can be bothersome for boats which are stored on raised racks or trailered often.
Upgrade or repair your existing thruster with parts and kits suited to your boat style and needs. Durable propellers, upgraded power kits and easy-to-use touch panels and joysticks will ensure your thruster system is ready to keep your boat agile in the water.