Bow Thruster

Old 11-29-2022, 01:17 AM
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Default Bow Thruster

At LOTO we have a Formula 370SS to use as our "SUV" on the water. We do not have any interest at this point of moving to a center console, as the Formula covers all of our bases. Anyway, the ONE thing that I do not like about it is that it sucks backing into slips. We have Volvo Penta DuoProp drives and when the are both in reverse, the boat tends to "crab" instead of straight. The forward is also quite a bit faster at idle than reverse, so sometimes I end up having to dick with the throttles also. Of course wind and waves also throws a curveball into the best laid plans. This is nowhere close to a direct drive with rudders that can be maneuvered like a skidloader. I am sure that I have a couple of thousand hours with twins (outboards/stern drives, true inboards), with much of it being at LOTO where docks can be tight and the boat in other slips are expensive!!!!

Annnyyywwaay, I got the idea last week about adding a bow thruster to our Formula. For those of you that have them or have added them, what has your experience been? Great, just OK, or someplace in between. To have Florida Bowthrusters add it would cost about $12,000. Seems worth it to me, but any input would be appreciated!
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Old 11-29-2022, 04:32 AM
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If you’re happy with the boat and the 12K, I say do it.
Like yourself, I’ve experienced outboards, shafts and stern drives. Duo props usually have a bit of bite in reverse (certainly more bite in forward) but the drives are close together, so on a 37 footer, they don’t provide much leverage with one in fwd and one in rev. Shafts with larger diameter props, spaced further apart are way more responsive. The rudders are useless at idle speeds.

A good bow thruster is easy to use, just get the stern lined up and push the nose sideways. There’s not much to it and you get very proficient, very quickly. Stern thrusters are relatively cheap and can easily be added later but with your experience, you wouldn’t need one.

Make sure your installer does a professional job cutting big holes in your boat 🙂 and doesn’t skimp on the size of the thruster.

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Old 11-29-2022, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by rak rua View Post

Make sure your installer does a professional job cutting big holes in your boat 🙂 and doesn’t skimp on the size of the thruster.

Yes, make sure that the "big hole" is made at the correct location such that the thruster really can push the bow of the boat. I know someone that fitted a bow thruster as a DIY project, and it ended up not being efficient, because the bow thruster was too close to the waterline, so it was just splashing water to the side instead of moving the bow of the boat. He had to start over and change the location of the bow thruster.

And make sure you get the correct size of thruster.

For 12K $ I would hope they can do a quality job, and if fitted correctly and a proper size thruster, then I am sure you will be happy with it.
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Old 11-29-2022, 06:59 AM
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Florida bow thruster is a pretty professional operation and from what Ive seen does good work.
Duo prop drives will never pivot the boat like inboards, they always seem to need some wheel input and throttle. I tend to run them like a big single engine and just use both together except for the slightest adjustments.
The bow thruster with the control mounted in a convenient spot will help quite a bit with your crab walking into the slip.
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Old 11-29-2022, 07:04 AM
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The $12k includes an $11k bid from Florida Bowthrusters (they will come to LOTO) along with $1k for a marina to haul out/in and misc. I would not just have just anybody do the work to save a little.
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Old 11-29-2022, 07:10 AM
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Just throwing it out there, as I have NO real world experience with running a boat with this set-up, but IF, I was adding a thruster to a boat, the jet type thrusters seem like a pretty good option (in theory anyway), as no need for big holes, no issues with prolonged use, like some traditional thrusters that overheat, and you can add multi-ports bow. stern etc., all on same system?

Anyone have any experience?
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seafordguy (11-29-2022)
Old 11-29-2022, 08:45 AM
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FBT did a friend's 47 SeaRay years ago. It looked and worked flawless. I drove the boat many times so he could party. Easy to dock, but it did have inboards. Sold the boat about 5 years ago, boat was moved to Florida I believe. Pretty sure they paid not too much different in what you are being quoted. They also added a complete Waves and Wheels audio/video system and a hydraulic platform for a jet ski, so it was out of the water for a month or so getting all the upgrades.
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Old 11-29-2022, 09:19 AM
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This past summer I saw a Sunsation 32 CCX up on stands near the storage building on the road up to High Tide and it was getting a bow thruster installed. Not sure who did the work but it looked pretty good when done.

Having spent time on boats at LOTO with having either Axius or a bow thruster I say go for it. Every extra bit of control around the docks is worth it.
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Old 11-29-2022, 11:04 AM
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I had FBT install a thruster on my new Sunsation 32ccx 2 years ago. They travelled to LOTO and did the work at PBC. I was advised by the Sunsation factory that it was unnecessary and a waste of money on my part. Where we boat, the gas docks are all on a river with 4-5 knot current and major congestion on weekends and certain times of the day. I have hundreds of hours experience in twin engine boats, inboards, outboards and stern drives. I can say with unquestionable authority the FBT was the best money I have spent on a boat in a long time.
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Old 11-29-2022, 11:29 AM
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I had a bow thruster on my Formula 400SS with 525s and it had the duo props. i very rarely used the bow thruster. when ever i backed up i only used one motor at a time ( never both in reverse ) and it worked well. BUT when i did need help because of the wind or current that bow thruster was worth its weight in gold. made it super easy
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