The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Friday, April 1, 2011

To Thrust or not to Thrust?

We will begin with yet another addition to our (Unofficial) Glossary of Boating Terms:

Bow Thruster-an electric motor driven propeller mounted in a cylinder cut into the bow of a boat below the water line that is controlled from the helm, allowing the skipper to "adjust" the direction of the bow in small increments while docking or otherwise manuevering the vessel.  Photo below (not our boat).

After another whirlwind trip to Florida, the new boat has now been moved to a boatyard off Tampa Bay on the Manatee River, where she will undergo a few minor repairs and a few major upgrades.  I met with Dave the mechanic, Rick the marine electrician, along with Barb the sign lady who will be applying the new name Once Around to the boat once Steve the foreman's crew is done with the patching and painting required, after they remove the old swim step...and another vendor installs the new hydraulic step...whew! 

The only tough decision was whether or not to spend the money installing a bow thruster.  My first large boat did not have one.  The Testa Dura does, and I have to admit that I have become a little spoiled.  It is a tough decision for two reasons; first, it is not cheap (see BOATT) and second, purists (experienced captains who don't have bow thrusters on their boats) will tell you not so subtly if you knew how to handle your boat, you wouldn't need one!  It would be easy if the things were quiet when operated, but the damn things make a loud whirrrring sound, so everyone on the dock within a quarter of a mile hears the poor skipper who needs to make a last minute correction to avoid hitting the dock or some other calamity.  Heads turn and they smile inwardly as they wait for the rookie to finally quiet down. 

So, using a thruster is a last resort for me, but it's still better than banging the boat around the slip or swinging away from the dock in the wind.  Once as I pulled Testa Dura into my slip in Ventura, our friend Bobby from Amore Mio a few slips away walked over to assist us with dock lines.  The wind took me a bit. I tapped the joystick and a brief WHHRRRR (it always seems louder when I do it) brings a smile to Bobby's face.  He shows his true colors a bit however when he says, "Showoff" (see, he really wishes he had one!).  Gloomily I respond, "No, showing off is having one and NOT using it".

Now given all that, it seems wierd to me to spend that kind of cash on something you would just as soon never use.  The closest analogy I can come up with are those cool safety features they are advertising on the new Mercedes, especially the one where the car knows if you are falling asleep at the wheel and wakes you up.  Imagine if that were an "option" on which you had to decide on it or say, your new jet ski.  You'd find yourself thinking...Wow, that's cool as heck, I think I'll spend a small fortune on it...hope I never need it! 

I finally decide that I am going to be doing a boater's lifetime of docking, locking and other manuevers in the next year.  Purists be damned, I tell the boatyard to go ahead and order the new bow thruster.  My dad used to say, "Discretion is often the better part of valor".  I think that applies here somehow.

1 comment:

  1. Since my dad is technologically challenged, I'll comment what I'm sure he's thinking: Sissy.