February 5, 2017 Hours spent building to date: 3,369
Spent most of the week cutting big holes in the bow of the boat for installation of a Vetus 25 bow thruster. Bow thrusters were pretty much confined to luxury yachts when I started sailing, but new technology has made them accessible to almost any cruiser. For a boat such as Tardis with a substantial deckhouse, single engine and not much boat in the water, a bow thruster is a tremendous tool. Basically it’s just a small propeller in a tunnel that runs through the bow driven by a powerful electric motor up in the boat. So even when the boat is stopped with no steerage way, blowing around in the wind, the thruster can still move the bow into a dock or around a corner.
I installed one on Memsahib, and it was a lifesaver. Memsahib had a long, shallow keel, barndoor rudder and basically no reverse. So her turning radius was 40 yards. 126 dockings, 146 locks and countless tight turns on the Great Loop would have been nerve-racking without the thruster. I know her turning radius was 40 yards because the Travelift pit at Norwalk Cove Marina is exactly 40 yards wide and the yard foreman told me, “When we turn the leaky tiki around in here, we clear the side by about an inch.”
Still, putting a thruster in is hard, tricky work. The tunnel is only about 4 1/2 inches across, but it goes into the bow where the hull is sharply angled both down toward the keel and in toward the bow. So the hole becomes a strange-looking conic section about five inches across and eight inches high, bulging on one side.
(I started this post at 28-9. But after the next score I stopped, since the Atlanta defense was looking a little tired, and New England could tie with the right combination of points. Then at 28-20, I woke up Molly and said, “They have a chance and plenty of time.” The great Tom Brady and his bunch of elderly and rag-bag receivers have done it again. Now back to bow thrusters.)
The key to pulling this off is to make a pattern exactly the size of the tunnel, and use small holes and positioning dowels, then increasingly larger holes and dowels to make absolutely sure the tunnel is in the right spot, square and level before even thinking about a saw. Until the first saw cut, you can recover pretty easily. Afterward would be a terrible patch job. This installation was made a lot easier because I was able to use a reciprocating, plunge-type saw for the final cuts that didn’t even exist when I put the thruster in Memsahib.
Other work this week included gluing up all the cabinet doors and fixing the one that was too narrow by cutting off the stiles right at the rails, plowing out a new groove in the rails with the dado cutter, and replacing the stiles with new ones of correct length using cherry culled from the scrap pile.