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Bow thrusters for single handed boating

Hello. Myself and a good friend are considering jointly buying a narrowboat.I have done a considerable amount of boating in the past but now I would mostly be travelling single handed. I would appreciate fellow boaters thoughts on whether a bow thruster would be a necessity/a big help and if so about how much are the to buy and fit?

Asked by: Martin jenkins  | 9.40pm, Thursday 31 August


WW says:

Bow thrusters can be a mixed blessing; they can give a useful nudge but often they are used to compensate for poor steering or bad underwater shape and can be ineffectual when really needed in extremis. They should not be used to move the bows out when vacating a towpath mooring as it damages the wash wall.
Electric bow thrusters get very hot because they draw such large currents; hence they are only rated for a very few minutes use per hour to give cooling down time and for the battery to be recharged. Hydraulic thrusters are much better as they can be used continuously but need an engine powered hydraulic pump. Any bow thruster would be expensive to retro-fit to an existing boat without a tube already fitted. The easiest would be an electric unit but provision would need to be made for charging the local battery. They also require periodic maintenance.
If you can steer a boat well, and are prepared to occasionally use the shaft when stuck, a bow thruster is not a necessity. It would be better to ensure that the boat concerned swims nicely and handles well. A bow thruster will not appreciably make it easier to boat single handed as the main difficulties are locks and food/toilet breaks.

Rupert Smedley  | 11.24AM, Friday 1 September


Readers say:

Hello, many thanks for this. I am a fit 56! and consider myself quite reasonable at handling boats so this is one thing that doesn't have to be a major consideration in our proposed purchase.

Martin jenkins  | 11.45AM, Friday 1 September

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