Posted: April 1, 2012
External thrusters take the trepidation out of docking.For many boaters, pulling into a tight slip in front of a crowd can feel like the 18th tee at Augusta on Sunday afternoon — it’s intimidating. Thrusters can help. But what if you already have a boat and don’t want to put big holes in the hull for the thruster tunnel? A thruster that attaches to the bottom of the hull with minimal invasiveness while still providing an abundance of power would be a good option.
Yacht Thruster, from Yacht Controller, is an electric thruster that requires only three small holes, is quieter than other thrusters, has a long run time, is durable, features Swiss and German engineering, and can be installed almost anywhere on the hull by hands-on boaters (or the folks at the yard) in a few hours. Positioning one of the units farther forward or aft provides more leverage for docking maneuvers than traditional thrusters, and since there are 10 different models across three lines — the Simplex bow/stern, the Duplex and the Compact stern — each boat can be matched to the proper unit for smooth power at the dock.
Yacht Thruster starts with a solid block of aluminum that is machined to create a solid housing that is naturally impervious to the marine environment. And the motor is in the external housing, so it is water-cooled, meaning it can run longer than most electric thruster motors, more akin to hydraulic units. According to tests conducted in-house, the thruster can run for more than five minutes in cooler water, and it recovers in just three or four minutes. And other testing shows that it increases drag while under way by less than one-tenth of 1 percent.
Since the Yacht Thruster installation is similar to installing any other through-hull fitting, there is no fiberglass lamination required, which would be a major impediment to a DIY project. The thruster comes with fiber washers that are 125 percent the thickness of the hull, and when those washers are crushed by the nut that secures the thruster to the hull, the washers expand into the holes and act as a seal. Once it’s installed — and this may be the feature people come to like most — Yacht Thruster is practically maintenance-free. It requires the same bottom paint as the rest of the hull, and it is already treated to resist the indignities of galvanic corrosion.