Side steering a pontoon, anyone ever tried something like this?

FIRE UP

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Gang,
Many of us with even a slight amount of Pontoon piloting, know that even some slight wind or wakes or a combo of both, can have a detrimental effect on trying to manuever your pontoon either back onto a trailer or, into a docking situation etc. There's times when I'm backing the boat out from a crowded beach and, if there's a cross wind of even a slight amount, sometimes that boat has a mind of its own. Even with the steering cranked all the way, the boat will drift in a direction that can be dangerous if crowds or other boats are close by. I've often thought that, it sure would be nice to be able to simply *push* this boat sideways in certain conditions.

Well, my wife found this on the net not too long ago. Please forgive me if this system has been brought up on here before and maybe other threads are discussing it. I had no idea how to search for it so, I just thought I'd ask about it. Anyyyyyyyywwwaaay, here's what I'm talking about:


No doubt about it, it's darned expensive. But, also, no doubt about it, for pontoons that are larger and, can be cumbersome to negotiate tighter docks, cross winds while trying to put it back on a trailer, and other situations, it sure seems like a great idea. I've got other ideas for the same process but, I thought I'd ask about this one. Has anyone either thought about it, tried it, purchased it? If so, what's your thoughts? Anywhere near worth what they're charging for it?
Scott
 

Michiman

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I thought it was a great idea until I found out how much they want for the set-up.
 

BigKahuna

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Yes another member on this forum (can't remember who it was) has posted about a side thruster that is available for pontoon boats. We have a double Bimini on our new boat so I know alot about being pushed around even in the slightest breeze. This would be pretty cool to have but we have learned to maneuver around with out it. What is the cost of this product?!?
 

FIRE UP

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Yes another member on this forum (can't remember who it was) has posted about a side thruster that is available for pontoon boats. We have a double Bimini on our new boat so I know alot about being pushed around even in the slightest breeze. This would be pretty cool to have but we have learned to maneuver around with out it. What is the cost of this product?!?
If I recall, the total for the bow and stern steering/propulsion units hover around $4,500 or so, plus or minus. It's definitely on the expensive side for sure. But, as I stated earlier, sometimes the wind can play DANGEROUS games with you AND YOUR BOAT in especially close proximity to other boats. Our 26' Benny, even with the 350HP Yamaha, can sometimes NOT DO what I want it to in close quarter operations. It's not only a bit frightening but, it's also a bit embarrassing if you're trying your hardest to gently maneuver your boat AWAY from other expensive boats that might be semi-close to yours and, it just doesn't act the way you're trying to get it to act. And yes, I'm quite experienced in operating boats. Been doing it for oh, around 40+ years.

Pontoons are DEFINITELY different in even slight winds, in slow hard steering situations. I don't think I'll run right out and buy one but, I sure as heck see how valuable it would be in multiple situations.
Scott
 

Yianni

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I think that is very reasonable if that is an option you need.
The boat builder site has the new Yamaha Helm Master for single engine.

Yamaha CL7 Helm Master EX (Single Engine)$31,421
 

Ez Going

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I like it think it would help I had a hard time even leaving a dock yesterday with the wind blowing me into it . I was lucky no other boats around
 

Vikingstaff

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Honestly, if it works as well as it looks in the video, that really is not a bad price. Not saying it is cheap, but if you boat in adverse wind and wave conditions more often, and in tight quarters, it sure would be nice to have.
 

Michiman

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I don't know if other engine manufacturers offer it, but the "Docking" mode on my Mercury is a great feature and one that I would now not live without, particularly on a pontoon application. I've got a long boat and a narrow marina, and a windy day can certainly make it stressful.
 

Mike31406

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Practice, practice & practice some more. I used to be scared to death to bring my tritoon onto my lift. But now is second nature, slow is best. Don’t go any faster that you are willing to hit something. Watch flags for wind direction and allow for it. With a heavy crosswind you may have to go a little faster. If available have a crew member forward , but inside playpen, on the port side to fend off if necessary.
 

M Jay Farr

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Yes another member on this forum (can't remember who it was) has posted about a side thruster that is available for pontoon boats. We have a double Bimini on our new boat so I know alot about being pushed around even in the slightest breeze. This would be pretty cool to have but we have learned to maneuver around with out it. What is the cost of this product?!?

Yes, I am the un-named sole that posted before. For most of my boating, I am getting better at docking. But there are times going into my slip with very little room I think that this would be helpful. It is not cheap, but then the boat was $50K so what's a few more :) I checked with my dealer and they are Ok to install so I am looking at this for the spring. Hoping there is a promo between now and then. Will keep the group posted.
 

Bill2250GSR

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Hi All,

ive been a member for quite a while, ever since we purchased our 2016 2250GSR. This is my first reply, as whenever I’ve had a question or comment, some one else has been there/done that. The forum is truely a great resource!
I bought and installed a bow thruster from Sideshift over the winter last year and recommend it 100%! Installed between the starboard and center tubes.
It is an absolute game changer for docking, etc. Wind was the enemy, but now it is a non-factor.
i use it in salt water, spray it down after each outing, and it looks as good as the day I installed it early last spring. (Boat stays in the water Approx. 6 months each season, Ocean City, NJ)
The support from Sideshift has been excellent as well. I had a problem linking the wireless joystick controller to the main Control box initially. They overnighted a new controller to me after one short call and everything worked great.
No affiliation, just a 100% satisfied customer!
 

The Wanderer2

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I am interested in this product and have a few questions. Has it affected the overall performance of your boat? Did you install a separate battery for the bow thruster or use the house battery? If you installed a separate battery, is it charged by the motor? Did you run all the wiring under the floor or above the deck? I have the rough water package with wave shield covering the floor under the boat. I wonder if that would pose a problem for installation. I watched the video on the web site and it looks like the wiring went from the unit under the floor to the rear of the pontoon and then up brought the floor to the battery. This would leave all the wiring exposed to the water and in my case salt water.
 

CLDave

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Practice, practice & practice some more. I used to be scared to death to bring my tritoon onto my lift. But now is second nature, slow is best. Don’t go any faster that you are willing to hit something. Watch flags for wind direction and allow for it. With a heavy crosswind you may have to go a little faster. If available have a crew member forward , but inside playpen, on the port side to fend off if necessary.
A lot of people seem to forget that you can use reverse and opposite lock to straighten yourself out too. I regularly park my R25 in a slot 12" wider than the boat, in a current, at my local watering hole. I've had LOTs of folks stop to compliment me on my parking - it's all in knowing how to pull the front and rear around. Practice, play around with it, and use the "dock mode" on your controller (if you have it) to be safe.

That said, that bow-thruster sure is neat. If my lift wasn't fairly sheltered from the wind, I'd probably consider for those late-night landings.
 

M Jay Farr

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Hi All,

ive been a member for quite a while, ever since we purchased our 2016 2250GSR. This is my first reply, as whenever I’ve had a question or comment, some one else has been there/done that. The forum is truely a great resource!
I bought and installed a bow thruster from Sideshift over the winter last year and recommend it 100%! Installed between the starboard and center tubes.
It is an absolute game changer for docking, etc. Wind was the enemy, but now it is a non-factor.
i use it in salt water, spray it down after each outing, and it looks as good as the day I installed it early last spring. (Boat stays in the water Approx. 6 months each season, Ocean City, NJ)
The support from Sideshift has been excellent as well. I had a problem linking the wireless joystick controller to the main Control box initially. They overnighted a new controller to me after one short call and everything worked great.
No affiliation, just a 100% satisfied customer!
Thanks for the feedback, I think that The Wanderer 2 asked many of the same questions. I know that when I spoke to the dealer they were pretty specific about the battery in the Bow. Any feedback you have about the install process would be appreciated. I know in my case the constant wind and my very narrow slip are what is driving me in this direction. I am only looking for the bow install not the double.
 

Bill2250GSR

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Hi again,
in response to Wanderer and M Jay, my answers are as follows:
Has it affected the overall performance of your boat? answer: nope, no change in performance as the thruster retracts up between the center and starboard toon when not in use.

Did you install a separate battery for the bow thruster or use the house battery? Answer: I installed a separate battery just for the thruster. I located it just forward of the helm, under the seat, in a plastic battery box. I mounted all the controls on the helm wall, also just under the same seat so if any water was present, they would stay dry.

If you installed a separate battery, is it charged by the motor? Answer: I decided for the sake of a simple installation to not charge the battery off the motor. I installed a trickle charger pig-tail on the battery- so I can plug in the trickle charger without opening up the battery box. The controls have a digital volt meter so each time I turn on the switch I glance at the meter to see the state of the batter. I only need to charge it every five to seven times or so that I use it. The instuctions are very clear about when to charge based on the readout. I simply plug in a battery tender to my dock until my next trip on the boat.

Did you run all the wiring under the floor or above the deck? Answer: all the wiring from the thruster is sealed. I ran the wires from the thruster, over the starboard toon, then along, underneath the rail, then through the factory penetration in the floor under then helm. From there I routed it through a hole that I opened in the wall between the helm and the seat right in front. The battery is right there too and they provide a cut-off master switch as well. The joystick is wireless (rf signal) So all it needs is switched power. I powered it from the accessory switch that turns on the stereo/ depth finder. This way when I dock and turn off the stereo I know it is off too and won’t drain the main battery by accident. I mounted the joystick using a hole saw just to the right of the steering in an open area.

I have the rough water package with wave shield covering the floor under the boat. I wonder if that would pose a problem for installation. Answer: I also have the wave shield. It’s no problem as you will see when you crawl under there, that the wave shield is attached with screws to the cross frames. I bolted it to the same cross frames.
I watched the video on the web site and it looks like the wiring went from the unit under the floor to the rear of the pontoon and then up brought the floor to the battery. This would leave all the wiring exposed to the water and in my case salt water. answer: all the wires are sealed, no connections except where they are inside the seat area. I used nylon zip ties to secure the wires under the side rail, just like the factory wires are secured. I boat only in salt water. I bought an extra anode, but haven’t used it yet as the entire thing is out of the water when not used.

couple of comments: I deal with tidal currents and wind every time. I practice A LOT, but sometimes, as others mentioned, the boat just won’t cooperate. This has been a total game changer. I can spin the boat 180deg. In a circle, no problem now.
They say in the instructions that it is possible to install it in the water. That’s crazy talk. I did it myself on land in an afternoon. You will need a helper when mounting the thing under the boat however.
The design and build quality is excellent. I was also very impressed with the packaging and shipper. Very well done, very protected during transit.
oh, and yes, it’s kind of pricy, but you get what you pay for. Also I own my boat with another family - so we split all costs 50/50. :)
hope this helps. Sorry for the long reply...
 

M Jay Farr

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Hi again,
in response to Wanderer and M Jay, my answers are as follows:
Has it affected the overall performance of your boat? answer: nope, no change in performance as the thruster retracts up between the center and starboard toon when not in use.

Did you install a separate battery for the bow thruster or use the house battery? Answer: I installed a separate battery just for the thruster. I located it just forward of the helm, under the seat, in a plastic battery box. I mounted all the controls on the helm wall, also just under the same seat so if any water was present, they would stay dry.

If you installed a separate battery, is it charged by the motor? Answer: I decided for the sake of a simple installation to not charge the battery off the motor. I installed a trickle charger pig-tail on the battery- so I can plug in the trickle charger without opening up the battery box. The controls have a digital volt meter so each time I turn on the switch I glance at the meter to see the state of the batter. I only need to charge it every five to seven times or so that I use it. The instuctions are very clear about when to charge based on the readout. I simply plug in a battery tender to my dock until my next trip on the boat.

Did you run all the wiring under the floor or above the deck? Answer: all the wiring from the thruster is sealed. I ran the wires from the thruster, over the starboard toon, then along, underneath the rail, then through the factory penetration in the floor under then helm. From there I routed it through a hole that I opened in the wall between the helm and the seat right in front. The battery is right there too and they provide a cut-off master switch as well. The joystick is wireless (rf signal) So all it needs is switched power. I powered it from the accessory switch that turns on the stereo/ depth finder. This way when I dock and turn off the stereo I know it is off too and won’t drain the main battery by accident. I mounted the joystick using a hole saw just to the right of the steering in an open area.

I have the rough water package with wave shield covering the floor under the boat. I wonder if that would pose a problem for installation. Answer: I also have the wave shield. It’s no problem as you will see when you crawl under there, that the wave shield is attached with screws to the cross frames. I bolted it to the same cross frames.
I watched the video on the web site and it looks like the wiring went from the unit under the floor to the rear of the pontoon and then up brought the floor to the battery. This would leave all the wiring exposed to the water and in my case salt water. answer: all the wires are sealed, no connections except where they are inside the seat area. I used nylon zip ties to secure the wires under the side rail, just like the factory wires are secured. I boat only in salt water. I bought an extra anode, but haven’t used it yet as the entire thing is out of the water when not used.

couple of comments: I deal with tidal currents and wind every time. I practice A LOT, but sometimes, as others mentioned, the boat just won’t cooperate. This has been a total game changer. I can spin the boat 180deg. In a circle, no problem now.
They say in the instructions that it is possible to install it in the water. That’s crazy talk. I did it myself on land in an afternoon. You will need a helper when mounting the thing under the boat however.
The design and build quality is excellent. I was also very impressed with the packaging and shipper. Very well done, very protected during transit.
oh, and yes, it’s kind of pricy, but you get what you pay for. Also I own my boat with another family - so we split all costs 50/50. :)
hope this helps. Sorry for the long reply...
I greatly appreciate the informative response. Plan on purchasing in the spring.
 

Vikingstaff

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Bill2250GSR - you may have been simply obsorbing information until now, but you came out swinging for the fences with this information above. Very thorough and clear report on your experience with the system, and a near “how-to” on putting it on the boat. I am sure your posts will greatly benefit others, just as you (and all the rest of us) have benefited from different threads over time.

I LOVE these longer and more detailed write ups with an attention to detail. Great posts!!!!
 
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