A Month with the Side Power SE40/125S Bow Thruster - Review

Side Power SE40/125S bow thruster review

Review: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

It's been nearly a month since our Sealine 290 Ambassador was relaunched into the water after having her new Side Power SE40/125S 12v electric bow thruster installed. Here's a little review of the whole bow thruster experience from the fitting to the performance on the water:

Purchasing

To start with, we purchased the unit from 2016 Southampton Boat Show at a show discount price which was a great start. We did not expect to walk away from this show with a new thruster but we're very happy that we did. The salesman that we spoke to was very helpful, kind and professional. He took details of the boat (weight, length, beam, draught etc) and selected the appropriate thruster motor for Bandit. This gave us a sense of confidence to know that we were doing the right think and doing it correctly. He also provided a wide range of information regarding fitting the thruster ourselves and sent over links to websites showing how to fit the entire bow thruster yourself. A very great buying experience. We had originally chosen to use Vetus bow thrusters but after speaking to Side Power, they convinced us that their products were better and more efficient which has turned out to be true.

Delivery

Then came the delivery which was great. Everything was packaged brilliantly in three separate boxes to ensure our expensive product arrived at our house without damage. One box consisted of the motor, gear house, propeller and fitting pieces. The second box consisted of the wiring, manual, helm controller, hull stickers and invoice. The third box consisted of the fibreglass tunnel.

Fitting

We had the boatyard, where we moor Bandit, fit the tunnel as we did not want to risk doing something wrong to our boat by fitting it ourselves. By having the marina fit the tunnel, we can be assured that it was fitted professionally and correctly. The instructions were very informative and told the marina where exactly to cut holes and fit the tunnel in the hull. It advised them on how to fit the tunnel and fibreglass it to ensure the hull remains as hydrodynamic as possible. This meant forming a deflector (or 'lip') on the tunnel at the bow to deflect the water around the tunnel to reduce drag and increase performance of the thruster itself when in the water.

We cut the holes in the tunnel, fit the motor and gear housing ourselves as it seemed very easy to do. As we had hoped, it was extremely straight forward. Side Power provided us with a template for cutting the holes which we simply taped to the tunnel after finding the boat's centreline (which ensures the propeller is centre to the tunnel). We used plenty of Sikaflex (which was recommended by the salesman at the boat show) to ensure it was completely watertight. It was then just a case of bolting it down and that was then job done. We checked for leaks as the boat was relaunched and it was all perfect.

We fitted a battery in the front locker as close to the motor as possible to ensure we get maximum performance from the bow thruster, as suggested in the fitting manual. Wiring was very simple and fitted the red circuit breaker and inline fuse was straight forward.

The remote at the helm was very easy to fit. It was just a case of cutting a hole, screwing it down and running a single-piece thin wiring loom from the helm to the location of the thruster motor in the bow (underneath the saloon, in our case). That was the easiest part and the quick wiring made it very straight forward. There was no additional wiring to do as the remote takes power from the thruster motor.

The real test

The boat was relaunched and it was then time for the first test! We moved Bandit back to her mooring and used the bow thruster around the marina to get used to it and then used it to reverse our Sealine back into her tight mooring.

In short, the bow thruster is absolutely fantastic and 100% worth the money we've invested in it.

We purchased the thruster as manoeuvring our 32ft Sealine on this river can be very difficult. Even more so with our mooring which is very tight. We found that Bandit is quite wide on her beam which makes getting her through the narrow locks on our river system very difficult at times. This bow thruster is going to help hugely with this. In addition, we use Bandit all through the year so we frequently experience strong winds which would usually stop us going anywhere. Our previous boat had a thruster and because of that, wind was not an issue. This is how we wanted it to be with our new Sealine.

The SE40 thruster was a perfect choice for our 32ft boat with 10ft 4" beam and moves her bow very well and at a reasonable speed. It is not too slow but not too fast. It's in the middle which is perfect as a overpowered thruster can be just as problematic as an underpowered one. The controller at the helm is very easy to control and becomes second nature after getting used to it and its location at the helm.

Because of the tunnel deflectors we had made as an optional extra by the marina, the boat will remain as hydrodynamic as possible and shouldn't effect her getting onto plane. It should not effect her top speed and does not effect the boat's behaviour while using her on the river at all.

We have tried the thruster in reasonably strong wind speeds and it handles the boat very well. It makes it very easy to manoeuvre the boat in windy conditions which now means we are able to use the boat more than we would have done without the thruster.

Conclusion

Overall, we are so very happy with the new bow thruster by Side Power. It preforms brilliantly for our boat and means we can now use our boat more than we could have done before. It was 100% worth the investment. We stand by what we've said about getting a professional company to fit the tunnel and cut the holes but fitting the motor but gear housing/propeller is fairly straight forward. This addition of the bow thruster also means that we can single-handedly use the boat without having to rely on someone else to jump off and grab the ropes as the bow drifts away from the mooring.

Our boat's specs

Sealine 290 Ambassador
Overall length: 31ft 8"
Length at waterline: 29ft 9"
Beam: 10ft 4"
Draught: 2ft 11"
Weight: 4,000kg

Side Power SE40/125S electric bow thruster - additional features:
Rated for boats 26-34 feet in length
40kg of force when running (10volts approx)
125mm tunnel
Side Power Q-Prop - increased performance
Tunnel fitted with deflectors - increased performance
Tunnel fitted very far forward - increased performance
40sqmm cabling used from battery to thruster motor (+/-)

More information here:

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