The new range of Vetus bow thrusters offer proportional control and super-quiet running. Nick Burnham takes a closer look
One advantage of buying a secondhand boat is the optional extras your purchase comes fitted with at someone else’s expense. Mine came with a bow thruster, which was of no interest or use at all to me as I am a Jedi Knight when it comes to boat handling.
The force is strong with me, although not as strong as the ebb tide sluicing down the River Dart the first time I reversed it out of Darthaven’s visitor pontoons, sweeping the bow inexorably toward a very expensive-looking superyacht. A quick and panicked prod of that ‘unnecessary’ bow thruster control and we were clear. I’m now a big fan of bow thrusters.
Latest and possibly greatest in the world of bow thrusters is the Vetus Bow Pro. The range of seven maintenance-free brushless bow thrusters is available in 12V or 24V format and are reckoned to offer 93% efficiency compared with the 65% offered by traditional bow thrusters with carbon brushes.
What is particularly interesting is the proportional joystick control, allowing you to precisely meter output rather than the binary on/off of most electric bow thrusters. There’s even the facility to lock the controls, so if shorthanded, you can leave the thruster running at a chosen speed while you attend to your lines.
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The blue and white colour scheme makes them instantly recognisable to anyone passing by (underwater…) and they’re backwards compatible with existing Vetus bow thrusters, making retrofit a doddle (the motor will fit most Vetus C and D tailpieces).
Finally, all models are designed to withstand running for ten minutes under full power thanks to a large heat sink, meaning you don’t need to worry about a thermal breaker robbing you of sideways thrust when you need it most.
The motor is reckoned to be ‘near silent’, which must be handy for discreet operation should you have previously assured your crew that you’re the kind of Jedi Knight boat driver that doesn’t need a stinking bow thruster. Prices start from £1,889.