Power & Motor Yacht
Why Not a Thruster?
There’s no denying that joystick controls have a cool factor, but think about it: Maneuvering with the engines, especially in tough conditions, takes a lot of power and puts a lot of stress on the machinery. You’re fighting leverage to turn the boat, even more so with closely mounted outboards. But there’s another way, simpler and less expensive: Install a powerful thruster at both ends of the boat, and you can spin to your heart’s content without taxing the engines and steering. I like the thrusters sold by Yacht Thruster, a division of The Yacht Group in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. They’re built by Sleipner, the company that also builds Side-Power thrusters.
These are external thrusters, bow and stern, making them easy to install, and sealed, so they require virtually no maintenance. The bow thrusters lie along the centerline, out of the water when the boat’s on plane, and adding minimal resistance when running slow—no more than a thruster tube. All that’s required is a 2-inch mounting hole and a pair of ¼-inch holes for steadying rods so the thruster doesn’t spin when activated. Yacht Thrusters’ stern thrusters bolt to the transom, like most stern thrusters, but have more powerful motors than most. Being external, the thrusters are water-cooled, and can be run continuously for up to 10 minutes at maximum power. They draw about half the power of other electric thrusters, too. Yacht Thrusters has bow and stern thrusters for boats up to 70 feet.
The thrusters can be controlled by a joystick or touchpad at the helm, or remotely with a Yacht Controller wireless remote that’ll work from anywhere on board, and for at least 20 feet beyond the rails in all directions, so you can use the thrusters to hold the boat against the dock while you step ashore to rig lines and fenders—great for single- and short-handed cruising. Yacht Controllers—there are several models—can also be connected to electronic controls and steering from most manufacturers, including those from The Yacht Group, using plug-andplay technology that’s easy to install. They will also control an anchor windlass. The Fusion model remote has its own joystick that’ll do everything the one at the helm will. A joystick you can carry around? That has a pretty good cool factor, too.