A bow thruster is a cylinder running through your hull at the bow (front end) of the boat, below the waterline, with propellers, to aid in the sideways movement of the boat. It helps in mooring the boat in the marina. For a larger vessel it allows the ship to enter harbours without a tug.
A bow thruster is an aid to help the skipper feel more comfortable handling his/her boat. It shouldn’t be relied on 100%. It is a back up. Nothing beats practice and lessons and good boat handling skills. Personally I like the idea of having one on the boat but it doesn’t mean I want to cut corners on learning how to handle my boat. It gives peace of mind with mooring, especially if there is an audience.
Things to consider before installing:
What kind of power do you have on your boat 12V, 24V?
Have a dedicated battery for the bow thruster
Joy stick or buttons for the controls
Bow thruster needs to be low enough below the waterline
The further back you place it the larger the bow thruster you need to install
Do you really need one?
Would it be cheaper to get lessons how to handle your boat than buy/install/maintain a bow thruster?
What is the maintenance on a bow thruster?
What if it does work? What’s my back up plan?
Another gadget on the boat, can you fix it yourself? Can you afford to have it fixed?
Bow Thruster Brands:
Sleipner – Side Power
A cautionary tale from someone who installed a bow thruster here.
Cadenabbia is a short drive south of Menaggio on Lake Como. We took the car ferry to Bellagio.
Getting On the Ferry by CAR:
Drive your car and park in the queue.
Put the handbrake on.
Go and buy your ticket saying which car is yours and how many passengers. (They charge by size, they don’t care whether you drive a Porsche, a Fiat or a Toyota.)
Go back to your car and wait for the ferry.
When the ferry arrives the passengers and cars get off first then you are waved to proceed.
Show your ticket to the staff as you drive on.
They wave in the direction of the lane you are to drive on.
Park. Handbrake on.
I left the car running with the air conditioning on and the music. (If it were in New Zealand there would have been signs saying to turn off the engine. I saw none and most people were doing the same.)
If you are lucky and there is a narrow car beside yours, you can open your car door and get out and walk around the boat. I was unlucky and I was stuck in the car. It was about a 15 minute ride so it was a novel experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If it were a 3-4 hour journey then I would have squeezed into the passenger side and got out for sure.
Getting Off the Ferry
The ramp is not steep and easy to drive off the ferry. You just have to know where you want to drive as soon as you get onto the street. There is a big car park there so you can park and recheck your map or GPS. Going up the winding road above the town was fun. But I do NOT recommend the road from Bellagio to Lecco (SS583) as it is extremely narrow in parts and there are plenty of trucks and cyclists. Scenic perhaps but as the driver doesn’t get a rest from watching the road it is far from ideal holiday driving. I suggest that you take the ferry back to Menaggio or Cadenabbia after lunching and wandering the streets of Bellagio.