A powerful piece of equipment utilized on mid to large vessels is a bow and stern thrusters. Thrusters aid in tight quarter maneuvering and especially when wind speeds are high. The operator controls a thruster by helm mounted toggle switch. A subsurface hull-mounted propeller pushes water to the left or right. Learn not only what a bow thruster is but how it assists in the everyday operation of the watercraft. 

What Is The Purpose Of Bow Thruster

The purpose of the bow-mounted propeller is to move the front of the vessel to port or starboard without relying only on the steering wheel and aft-mounted engines. 

Onboard electricity powers thrusters, which generate ample power for pushing the vessel sideways. A small propeller spins clockwise or counterclockwise depending on the manipulation of the helm toggle. 

The primary reason vessels are equipped with thrusters is to assist in tight quarter maneuvering, for example, marinas. Limited space is available; therefore, the boat must make precise directional changes to avoid striking the dock, pilings, or other watercraft. The combination of jockeying engines in forward and reverse and the bow propeller allows the boat to be walked sideways with no forward or aft motion. 

What Size Boats Have Bow Thrusters

Vessels thirty feet in length and greater are most frequently fitted with bow thrusters. However, this is not always the case.

Production line boats are frequently fitted with thrusters to make operation more straightforward for inexperienced boat owners. It is not uncommon to see boats as small as twenty feet with the technology on board. Keep in mind, aftermarket thrusters are available. 

Is A Bow Thruster Necessary

While a thruster is not required, it makes the task of docking more straightforward. Highly experienced captains can whip a watercraft into a narrow dock in blinding rain, strong winds, and a raging current with their eyes closed. For the weekend warrior, we suggest purchasing a boat with a thruster. 

How Do You Operate A Bow Thruster

The operation of a thruster is simple. A thruster does not function when the vessel is operating at high speeds but instead slow maneuvering speeds. 

It is uncommon to find single-engine vessels equipped with thrusters. When walking a boat to the left or port, the operator positions the left engine ahead and the right engine astern while pushing the thruster control to the left. As a result, the watercraft slides sideways with no forward or aft motion.

When walking right or starboard, place the left engine in reverse and the right engine ahead while pushing the thruster controller to the right. 

Remember to avoid excessive engine RMPs when maneuvering. Adjust the power applied to the engines based on the speed of the wind and current.

What Are The Benefits Of A Bow Thruster

When it comes to benefits, a bow thruster provides peace of mind for the operator. Rather than have to rely solely on engines, a thruster keeps the bow in alignment with the boat’s motion. 

We have seen bows strike docks, other vessels, and pilings because the operator lost sight of the position only to realize it was positioned well to the left or right. A thruster prevents losing the bow when manipulated properly with a thruster. 

Are You Buying A Boat With Thrusters

When docking a vessel in fresh or saltwater through Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina, bow thrusters simplify the process. While boats can become fitted after production with thrusters, it is best to purchase a vessel equipped with the resource. We recommend test driving a friend’s boat with the equipment on board before determining if it is beneficial. We think you will like the opportunity to maneuver on a dime.