A friend has a 14X65' widebody in a 15.5' stall. only thing better than "greasing the sides" is stern thrusters he had installed last year. One of H.B. Mag's advertisers did it in the water!! Don't rember name or cost, but buddy loves it. If interesed I will get you the company name.
I carry a gun because it's too tiring carrying a cop.
I purchased a houseboat 16x70, without thrusters. Dreaded every trip to dock and especially if windy. Last trip in could not wait for wind to stop and was pushed into neighbor. Installed Hyrdranautics (about 6000) stern thruster. Installed in water. Best money I ever spent on the boat. Everyboat like this should have thruster if you want to enjoy taking it out. Stern mounted is way to go. Bow always ok, but wind would push stern around. No more!
I added a Vetus bow thruster to my 34' Nautaline this year, since the bow was unmanageable in wind and current. What a difference it made - I can now dock and manuver with confidence and no longer need deck hands or dock hands to get the job done. The thruster is controlled with a joy stick in the helm. Any bystanders always have big smiles as they watch the boat come in.
Vetus has a very useful web site that walks you through the selection and thruster size based upon a boat's measurements. The thruster tunnel is availabe in several lengths of fiberglass, steel or aluminum.
I farmed out the physical installation (I could not even think of cutting a 6" hole into the hull) and did the electrical portion myself.
"A bow thruster pushing to port will have the same effect as a stern thruster pushing to starboard. It is a popular misconception that since the engine(s) are located astern, a bow thruster is somehow inherently better or that a stern drive will be of no benefit, but with few exceptions, a bow *or* stern thruster can significantly mitigate common maneuvering challenges with equal effectiveness, in that either will allow the boat driver to disassociate the control of the ahead or astern speed of the boat from its directional control. One instance in which a bow thruster would be more beneficial is on a boat with significantly more sail area forward of its pivot point, which will tend to make the bow go downwind, but a strong enough wind could easily overcome the available thruster power except for the very large and powerful commercial units. For a boat that is more uniform in shape, e.g. a houseboat that is like a big box sitting on the water, the wind loading will be more evenly distributed, and it will tend to maintain its orientation while the entire boat will be blown downwind, and so from a maneuvering perspective, there would be no advantage of one type of thruster over the other."
(above is an excerpt from article being considered for publication)
I have a Sideshift stern thruster that I installed myself over a weekend on my single engine 58' Lakeview, and it works *marvelously*.
58' Lakeview w/ single Merc 3L and Sideshift stern thruster on Dale Hollow Lake in KY/TN