Getting Involved in Motorsports: A Beginner's Guide

Why Install a Retractable Thruster on Your Boat?

While regular external and tunnel thrusters work well on many boats, you may be looking for an alternative solution. You might be better off looking at retractable thrusters rather than fixed ones. But, how do these thrusters works and what are the benefits of using them?

What Are Retractable Boat Thrusters?

Retractable thrusters typically work on a similar principle to tunnel thrusters. The mechanism sits in a tunnel in the boat; the thruster itself sits at the waterside end of the tunnel. However, retractable thrusters sit inside the tunnel when you aren't using them. They close in to the hull under a covering cap. So, they don't protrude out until you engage them.

What Are the Advantages of Retractable Thrusters?

While thrusters improve your docking control and overall manoeuvrability, they do have some downsides. If your thruster sits outside the boat, then it can affect its performance. The thruster itself might also get clogged up as it sits in the water. For example, an external thruster might affect drag. This means your boat can't sail as smoothly as it might otherwise do. 

Thrusters can also create an obstruction that affects the flow of water around your hull. This drag effect can affect your speed and ability to sail smoothly. Plus, the weight of water in a thruster's tunnel can make your boat feel less buoyant. Fortunately, however, if you install a retractable thruster, then you won't have these problems. The thruster sits in its housing when you don't need to use it. Even its cap sits flush on the boat, which means your hull stays sleek and streamlined. You get less water in the tunnel so you shouldn't notice any adverse effects on your buoyancy.

Hiding the thruster away also helps keep your boat clean. An external thruster can become home to marine organisms and growths if it sits in the water for long periods. You might have to clean it regularly or have it serviced more often to keep it in good working order. Thankfully, retractable thrusters give you an advantage here too. When you don't use them, they sit behind a closed cap. They'll be exposed to less water. So, they are less likely to be affected by organisms or growths. They're also protected from accidental harm.

You'll typically also find that this kind of thruster is quieter than other models. Its smaller footprint and different connections mean that it makes less noise and creates fewer vibrations.

To find manufacturers who supply retractable models, contact your boat accessory supplier. They can show you examples of products, like Vetus thrusters, and can provide you with more information.