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Posted by on Jun 9, 2011 in Boat Maintenance, Safety and Seamanship, UK, US |

Boat Storage and Bow Thrusters

Using the area around a bow thruster for storage can be tricky. Here are a few tips to prevent damage.

Question: Like most people I’m always looking for more storage on my boat. In the picture below you can see the area in the bow of my boat around the bow thruster. Lots of unused space there. Is there anything to worry about if I use this space to store things that I don’t need to get to very often?

dangerous-thruster_001

An unprotected electrical terminal on the motor of this bow thruster needs to be covered up before anything can be stored in this area.

Answer: There are several things that you should be concerned with if you intend to store rarely used equipment in this area of your boat. If you look at the picture carefully you can see an unprotected electrical terminal on the motor for the thruster. It appears to be the DC negative terminal and I can’t see the positive terminal which would be located on the opposite side of the motor housing. If that terminal is also uncovered, something could bump into the lug and possibly bend it so that it touches the motor case. If this happens, you can easily create a low level “short circuit to ground” as we call it in the trade. The net result of this will be not necessarily a fuse or circuit breaker tripping out, but rather a low level leak of DC battery power through the underwater drive part of the bow thruster as the short circuit tries to find a path back to its source. The result will be profound corrosion of the thruster drive housing and propeller (if metallic). I have seen thruster drive mechanisms destroyed in a matter of days time when this happens.

The solution to all of this is simple. Make sure the DC terminals on your thruster(s) are covered and protected with proper insulating boots. Also, if you are going to use this valuable space for storage, I recommend building a box to fit around the motor and control box to prevent anything from banging into the thruster equipment.

And if there’s not much space, I recommend simply screwing down the access panels to prevent easy access to this area of the boat, since it’s safer to not store anything around the motor.
—Ed Sherman

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  1. Boats.com Blog » Blog Archive Marine Electrical Safety: Boot Those Terminals | Boats.com Blog - [...] This is a question that has come up before in a slightly different context. (See Boat Storage and Bow …