By Jon Blaicher
You love everything about boating. Provisioning for the weekend brings a smile to your face. The drive to the marina is always a pleasant one. Heading out with family and friends to find an anchorage on a sunny day is just about the best thing in the world. Out on the water you are having a great time, but the wind is starting to pick up. Nervously you check the weather on your phone, and that dark feeling you’ve managed to bury, claws its way to the surface. The one thing you dread, the only thing that keeps you up at night is returning to the marina to face that dock when the wind is blowing. Your significant other sees you eyeing your phone. Should we cut the trip short, pull anchor and head in early before the wind picks up anymore? Then that song starts playing, the sun pokes out from behind a cloud and you can feel its warmth on your face. No one wants to go home and there are so few precious weekends in a boating summer. You put the phone down. You hope it doesn’t pick up too much, but it is blowing from the North and that isn’t usually a good sign.
The only question you keep asking yourself about boating… why can’t docking be easier? How do some people make it look so easy? You’ve heard about bow thrusters. You may even know someone that has one. Thruster prices at the last boat show aren’t out of reach, but the high cost of installation is a bridge too far.
If only there was a true DIY thruster option? One that could be installed in a single day, without any holes drilled below the waterline. A complete kit that didn’t require a dozen trips to the chandlery or hardware store. Believe it or not, there is one company that offers such an option.
Sideshift thruster kits are designed to be an affordable DIY project for boats from 20-feet up to 50-feet in length. Fully installed, a Sideshift bow thruster can cost half that of a through-hull thruster. There are zero holes needed below the waterline, and all are small enough they can be drilled with regular bits. No big hole saws are required.
Sideshift thrusters are shipped as kits that are 99% complete with all necessary hardware including all switches, nuts, bolts, fuses, cable ends and a full tube of Sikaflex sealant. Sideshift even includes a small tube of anti-seize paste for the stainless hardware. The only parts you need to supply are those unique to the installation; the battery cables and a dedicated battery and charger if required.
The installation manual is easy to follow and incredibly detailed with a complete list of all parts, required tools, cable requirements, hull placement photos, wiring diagrams and step-by-step instructions. SideShift also has five installation videos along with four video tips for visual reference on their website. In this video, a couple shares their thoughts on their own DIY installation, and how it transformed their boating experience.
Imagine how your life might change, if docking your boat was no longer a stressful exercise. With the simple push of a joystick lever, you could position the bow of your boat within inches of the dock and hold it there, even with a stiff offshore breeze. Mooring stern-in becomes far less challenging, even in a tight slip. Maybe it’s time to take the stress out of boating, and start docking with confidence.