Who Needs Two Engines When You Have Thrusters?

posted in: Boat Projects | 2

We have never wanted a twin engine boat.  Yes, yes, I have been lectured on the benefits of two engines, but frankly, the argument has not been convincing. Why double the expense and work load? After sailing for so many years one engine is all we need. It is true that if the engine on a trawler breaks down we have no sails to power us. But, hey, that is what Boat US towing insurance is for.

The Mariner Orient had a bow thruster and that was very helpful with only one engine. It makes it easier to maneuver the boat into and out of the slip.  The Kadey Krogen has a bow thruster. I thought we were all set. HaHa. 

Al used his covid time, hunkered down at home, searching the internet for ….. anything boat related, including…. wait for it….. stern thrusters. Another thruster??? I was a bit hurt and deflated, thinking this idea was a reflection on my docking abilities. When I asked, “Why?????….,” Al patiently explained that a sideways propeller in both the bow and stern, gives you better control of the vessel than with a bow thruster alone. You are also able to rotate the boat in any 360 direction while stationary. Well, well, well.. I guess I’ll be able to spin this baby all around. 😳

Everything Al found on the internet for an external stern thruster was too flimsy. And then he stumbled across the Yacht Thruster company’s  Model 300C, their most powerful thruster for a boat our size. No surprise, but it was out of his price range. Undeterred, Al continued to dream of a stern thruster. Al is a dedicated eBay and Craig’s List shopper, so he typed that model into the eBay search, and lo and behold, someone just happened to have a brand new one that was never installed on their recently sold boat. Selling for half price. Al waited until the last minute to make his bid and won the auction.

This was probably his most anticipated package arrival of the winter. As soon as it was in his hands, he began work on creating a cardboard mock-up. (That doesn’t surprise anyone, right?)

Al designed a mock-up to test the proper positioning on the boat. Side by side, the stern thruster and its cardboard stand-in.
With the cardboard understudy, Al was able to locate exactly where the stern thruster should be mounted. The cockpit drain and zinc locations would have to be moved. A little bit of fiberglassing had to be done. Easy work for Al.
Holes in boats……… not usually a good thing. This is the hole that had to be cut into the boat to mount the stern thruster.

It looks like a lot of holes where holes shouldn’t be on a boat, under the water. But it was a work in progress at this stage.

New holes were drilled and filled into the transom, and the existing cockpit locker drain had to be moved.

There was exterior work and interior work to be done.

A stern thruster requires its own battery for power. The internal control box, battery shut off and fuse were all mounted in the aft cockpit locker.

A close up of the installed stern thruster.

The stern thruster is neatly tucked away under the swim platform and below the waterline. Ready to do its thing.

Docking should now be less stressful for me, especially if the wind is blowing.  I have been docking our boats for a while now (10 years?) but I still get shaky knees at times. Maneuvering into a dock and coming alongside a dock requires careful steering and throttling back and forth. Some boaters may sneer at the addition of bow and stern thrusters, but I have found the bow thruster to be a life saver. So, if adding a stern thruster will make a tricky maneuver easier, why not take advantage of it? 

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