Plain Sailing

Bow-thrusters: cheating?

There’s been some hot debate in the offices this morning after one of our telephone customers, when asked if he wanted us to find him a yacht with bow thrusters by our glamorous telephone-hotline assistant (who is waiting for your call!), declared ‘Of course not - bow thrusters are cheating’.

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And so we came to wonder about whether arguably the single biggest development in yachting in recent times.  For the unfamiliar, bow-thrusters allow you to control the nose of the boat with one quick press of a button or lever (which was previously impossible!)

There’s nothing more embarrassing than heading into a marina and making a complete dogs dinner of parking up your yacht in front of (it always seems) a whole marina of people who stop and stare at you as you spin and miss and reverse, and eventually, somehow, after a lot of shouting from various locals, end up in a space.  I say a space, because it wasn’t the one you were aiming for, but it will do.  Yes, bow thrusters make it a LOT easier to take a boat in and out of a marina or anchorage – for which some of us are eternally grateful.

The counter-argument is that, whilst they are helpful, they make controlling a yacht too easy.  A friend of our boss quipped that people who resort to having to use bow thrusters have already lost control of their boat, and should have their licenses revoked! 

We’re not quite as staunch as that in our office, but there is a sense that bow thrusters encourage you to become a lazy sailor.  The button replaces the need for sailors to have to develop an understanding and instinct about the wind, and takes much of the expertise out of the game.

In the end, we persuaded the caller to take a boat with bow-thrusters (as it was way better value), on the proviso that he wouldn’t use them, and as long as we promised not to tell his friends!