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muttnut 28-09-2009 16:48

Bowthruster Questions
We have a new 47' Caliber, and it backs like stink. Has a mind of its own, and is very unreliable as to which way it will go. Once it starts in a certain direction, there's nothing you can do to change its mind. We are contemplating a bow thruster, and will talk to some people at the boat show in a couple of weeks, but wonder if any of you have a bow thruster, and whether or not it is internal or external. In particular we'd like to know how happy people are with an external bow thruster. I'm thinking it would be a lot cheaper. Any comments or suggestions welcome!

Joli 28-09-2009 18:34

We have a Vetus bow thruster and it's great. In the marina we center the wheel and use the joystick for manuevering. Backing I tend to steer with the bow thruster, not the wheel when in the marina or a narrow fairway.

motion30 28-09-2009 20:10

mine is internal and I am happy with it

s/v Moondancer 28-09-2009 22:44

Mine is external and I am happy with it, not essential for going forward but invaluable when reversing at low speed; what happens in reverse at low speed with the wheel is a semi-random event.

s/v Jedi 29-09-2009 16:32

I can't believe that random event in reverse. Surely, the prop-walk always takes the stern to the same side when the rudder is midships !!?? Well, maybe when the prop is halfway forward like I've seen on those Amel's it gets different.


Jentine 29-09-2009 16:55

You may want to look at the following link for a thruster that doesn't require a 6" hole in your bow:


MikeinLA 29-09-2009 18:56

Nice boat! I'd have a bow thruster on that thing so fast it would make your head spin. It'll change your life.


s/v Moondancer 30-09-2009 12:16

"semi-random" occasionally it goes where I want it to but I hate hitting docks, with the stern, at 4 knots so I use the bow thruster.

imagine2frolic 30-09-2009 13:26

I went with a friend from anchor to the fuel dock in a Lord Nelson 41. The bow thruster made docking extra easy........i2f

sck5 30-09-2009 13:51

I chartered a 42 foot bargelike canal boat on the Erie canal last summer. I was a little nervous about maneuvering it in and around the locks until I got there and found out it had a bow thruster. What a great thing! The boat was like a floating brick but with the thruster I could even make it go sideways to get it into spaces against the bulkhead not much longer than it was. If I ever grow up to get a new 47' Caliber (my used caliber is only 33') I will get a bow thruster.

speciald@ocens. 30-09-2009 14:31

If you get a bow thuster- get a big one. I have a 24v. Vetus, the biggest they make with the new 6 blade prop. It pushes the bow with no effort on a boat that displaces about 70k pounds. What do you mean by external? A friend of mine with a Farr 50 has a retractable thruster, mine is faired into the hull. I don't think the retractable thruster has any advantage as far as reducing boat speed and it costs alot more to install.

Sailndive345 30-09-2009 16:17

I have a 12V retractable Max Power (I think it is a French brand) on my Beneteau 461, a 20k lbs boat. Have been using it since 2005 and it has been wonderful.

The primary reason I chose the retractable style was the shallowness of the hull forward: A tunnel type bowthruster would have had to be installed too far back and I didn't want the hole impacting sailing performance. As it is, this one is located right at the bow and extracts to about 3' depth and doesn't cavitate.

As far as the 12V part goes: I didn't care for adding a whole new system of hydrolics, etc to the boat. As the boat comes with a 12V system already, it - in my opinion - was a good match.

Because of the cable lengths involved, a 12V system running a hefty electric motor suffers from a healthy voltage drop - even with gauge 1 wire. A battery located closer to the bow thruster became necessary and I installed an Optima (blue top) and haven't had any issues to date. If you have 24V, it may offer different options.

Another point I like is the quietness of the electric thruster: Unless you are standing next to the boat, there is no way to know that I am using a bow thruster; makes me look better than I really am ;)

The downside was the significant cost of the thruster and installation.

Fair winds!


muttnut 01-10-2009 18:39

Thanks for the input on bow thrusters. I should amend my original posting - the Caliber 47 is a '99, just "new" to us. Caliber now puts the bow thruster in as standard equipment, I think, but didn't back then. It has a feathering prop. We do have room for a tunnel type bow thruster, but hesitate to put any more holes in the hull, hence the interest in an external thruster. In addition to not putting a big hole in the hull, I imagine it's a lot cheaper to install. Do they work as well?

Sailndive345 01-10-2009 19:33

:confused: Excuse my ignorance but what is an external thruster? What I gathered from your statement is that it definitely is not a tunnel type - You also mention no holes in the hull; Is it something "external" to the hull altogether? With a retractable type, there is definitely a hole - just that it is closed by the thruster cover plate when retracted.



James S 02-10-2009 08:09

I don’t know what an external thruster is either.
I have a 12 volt system but installed a 10" 24volt Sidepower thruster with a switch box that switches part of my house bank from parallel to series to give 24volt.

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