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Old 12-11-2013, 08:55   #1
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Another is it worth it question?

I am vacillating between the pros and cons of a bow thruster on a 35-40 foot sail boat. My question in general is are they worth it / do you really need it?

When we do upgrade to a new boat this is one of the items I am considering but I can't make up my mind on if its worth the cost and maintenance. Versus the benefits at dock. Here are my thoughts on it so far.

Cons:
-expensive (could put the money towards the generator)
-something not essential that can break and needs maintenance
-its another hole in the hull
-generally needs a dedicated battery or you need to increase the battery bank
-I have made it 23 years with out one and have managed just fine
-expensive when they do break

Pros:
-In a pinch when you do need them they are priceless
-Thinking back to some tight spots I've pulled into and out of with difficulty a bow thruster would have been helpful (but I still managed without, not sure if this is pro or con)
-They are nice to have and boost confidence


I would love to hear from any and all on both sides i.e. the you shouldn't take a boat out if you don't know how to handle it crowd and the bow thrusters should be standard equipment because they can save your ass crowd. I personally tend to fall in the middle (hence my problem) I do believe that proper seamanship is essential but I also know that sometimes you just get into a screwy situation that you can't help.

So are they worth the expense, the extra hole in the hull, the battery upgrade, and the maintenance/repairs?
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Old 12-11-2013, 09:26   #2
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

A full keel with barn door rudder wants a bow thruster more than a fin keel with spade rudder.

IMHO, I would do without for 40 feet and under because the crew can fend efficiently, cost, and maintenance. Plus it's just more stuff that gets added to the already long maintenance list.

Maybe answer the question...how many times do you really need one? Mostly they are a convenience if you have crew. What if it quits during a critical move, what's the backup?
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Old 12-11-2013, 09:32   #3
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

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A full keel with barn door rudder wants a bow thruster more than a fin keel with spade rudder.

IMHO, I would do without for 40 feet and under because the crew can fend efficiently, cost, and maintenance. Plus it's just more stuff that gets added to the already long maintenance list.

Maybe answer the question...how many times do you really need one? Mostly they are a convenience if you have crew. What if it quits during a critical move, what's the backup?
That's right along the lines of what I've been thinking. I just want / wanted to make sure I'm not missing something critical in my less is more approach to boats
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Old 12-11-2013, 09:36   #4
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

On this size boat I don't consider them worthwhile. Up to about 50' the loads just aren't high enough that in my mind they are worth it.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:08   #5
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

How often do you smack into docks and other boats where a thruster would have helped?

Answer that question and I think you have your answer.

We found that we don't have a problem so it's hard to justify the cost when there are other things we could spend the time, money and effort on.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:18   #6
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

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How often do you smack into docks and other boats where a thruster would have helped?

Answer that question and I think you have your answer.

We found that we don't have a problem so it's hard to justify the cost when there are other things we could spend the time, money and effort on.
I really don't have that issue and I kind of pride myself on my docking ability, it is something I have gotten good at but also am always trying to improve on as much as I can. It really boils down to one of those things that would be fun/nice to have and I can see advantages to it, but....when I start thinking about the cost, maintenance, repairs, and worst of all becoming reliant on it I start wondering how "nice" it can be especially when considering it is only for a boat in the 30-40 foot range. Now if we were talking about a 50+ footer this would be a totally different conversation
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:21   #7
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

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I really don't have that issue and I kind of pride myself on my docking ability, it is something I have gotten good at but also am always trying to improve on as much as I can. It really boils down to one of those things that would be fun/nice to have and I can see advantages to it, but....when I start thinking about the cost, maintenance, repairs, and worst of all becoming reliant on it I start wondering how "nice" it can be especially when considering it is only for a boat in the 30-40 foot range. Now if we were talking about a 50+ footer this would be a totally different conversation
If you don't have a problem now and the new boat isn't some horrible pig when it comes to handling, no reason you should need one then.

If you just want a new toy, go for it.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:25   #8
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

Imagine putting it on your MasterCard and taking two years to pay for it . You could go cruising or retire two years earlier if you did not buy all that junk . If ya ain't got it then it can not break !
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:25   #9
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

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If you don't have a problem now and the new boat isn't some horrible pig when it comes to handling, no reason you should need one then.

If you just want a new toy, go for it.
I always want new toys!!!! The problem is justifying them to my wallet.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:36   #10
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

Certainly not on 35 feet. 40+ maybe. I've always seemed to get the job done without it up to 47 feet. Just sounds like another thing to maintain to me. I have been lucky a couple of times where maybe one would have helped had I been less lucky! OTOH... would I have had time to use it in the middle of the panic? :>)
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:04   #11
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

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I always want new toys!!!! The problem is justifying them to my wallet.
There are better toys that will actually be useful for the same money. New sails come to mind, generator, electric windlass, crusing spinnaker (on a removable sprint pole & furler even)... The possibilities are endless.
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Old 12-11-2013, 13:22   #12
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

If you aren't having problems docking, the financial justification ain't gona work.

Then again we are talking boats. Financially, you would be better sitting in a canoe in your living room.
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Old 12-11-2013, 14:36   #13
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

Depends on the new boat, the size of rudder and the reverse prop walk of the boat. I agree a bow thruster is not need on a smaller boat. What size boat is up to you? Most sail boats have large area rudders so they can turn maneuver at also speeds and tight areas. Most sail boats do not have a significant reverse prop walk but I have seen some sail boats where it was a bitch to back up straight. On a power boat with a small area rudder and a bigger prop, a bow thruster is a must for a single screw to be able to maneuver/turn in the same direction as the prop walk.

Bow thruster as strting to become standard equipment, justl like AC, pwoer windows/steering on veicles. So the boat might have a bow thruster weather you like it or not. I would musch rather have one than not have one as there are times when they are very handy.
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Old 12-11-2013, 14:39   #14
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

If you docking situation makes them a must, get one! Or change the dock.

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Old 12-11-2013, 18:40   #15
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Re: Another is it worth it question?

Gee, I don't even use fenders when docking my 34' full keel boat. On the off time I fub it or the winds blowing me off the dock, I back a bit and redo it. That does not happen often. Normally, I have a boat hook to pull the boat into a upwind dock if it's windy enough. I've not really had a problem though. So not that tricky on a smaller boat single handing.... with practice.
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