Editor's Report by Eric Colby

The Vetus Bow Pro Thruster series combines an electronic bow thruster power and the company’s quiet RimDrive. It earned an Innovation Award at the 2018 Miami International Boat Show from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

The Pro Thruster series is for boats ranging from 20’ (6.1 m) to 39’ (11.89 m) and comes in six different models with thrust output ranging from 66 lbs. (29.94 kg) to 167 lbs. (75.75 kg). Thrusters for smaller boats require 12 volts while larger units need 24. For example, the model #BOWA0572 is for boats 28’ (8.53 m) to 34’ (10.36 m), so it makes it easy for a consumer to choose the right one and Defender Industries carries the complete series.

A Closer Look

Vetus has proven the induction technology that eliminates carbon brushes in the thruster. The result is a unit that is quiet and has nearly unlimited run time depending on the size of a boat’s battery bank. The induction motor is controlled by the Vetus MCV motor controller. It’s engineered in-house to work with 12- and 24-volt applications, making the Pro Thruster series applicable for almost any application. It has integral over-temp and low-battery protection and when that is combined with the brushless induction motor, the Bow Pro series is resistant to abuse. The only maintenance required is to the tailpiece and power circuits.

The Vetus Bow Pro Thruster has a brush-less motor that is essentially maintenance-free.

The Bow Pro Thruster is controlled by a proprietary CANBUS protocol. Two different panels are available. One is a fully proportional base model and the other has a lock function. It’s a station-holding function that lets the boat be moored without using dock lines. This could make it easier to board a vessel. Vetus also says the Bow Pro Thruster can be used in retrofit applications because the new motor is interchangeable with the tailpiece and flange of the full range of Vetus thrusters. The unit comes without the tunnel or joystick.

Bow Pro thrusters use the same propellers and gearboxes that have been proven in Vetus thrusters for more than 30 years. It’s easy to upgrade from a conventional thruster to a Bow Pro because it has been designed to share tunnel sizes with current Vetus units as well as other brands.

Three Versions

Vetus offers three ranges of Bow Pro thrusters: the Bow Pro series (BOWA), the Bow Pro 48 volt series and the Bow Pro Boosted series.

When a Bow Pro thruster is installed, like any other unit, the alternator delivers its output to the battery bank, which then distributes it to various energy users. The motor controller offers the advantage of proportional control and endurance-related run time.

The base Bow Pro uses a straightforward thruster installation, requiring a dedicated battery and required cabling.

The Bow Pro Boosted series has a third connection on the motor that leads current to an internal charger. This steps up the voltage from 12 to 24, allowing a 12-volt charging source to charge a 24-volt battery bank. This converts the 12-volt input to a 24-volt charging current for the secondary battery bank. Depending on which battery bank is chosen, this gives a user the freedom to choose between 12-volt and 24-volt on board equipment. From the 24 volt power bank, a captain can use 24 volt equipment such as windlasses and power winches. At the higher voltage and consequent lower amperage, the vessel can use smaller battery cables, making equipment like winches easier to accommodate. However if 12-volt equipment is already installed on a vessel, the user can also choose to stick with the 12 volt system. Connecting the Bow Pro Boosted to a 24-volt system is also possible. This built-in charger recharges the battery bank when the thruster is not in use.

The boosted system adds a connection off the thruster motor that can charge and manage an extra battery bank.

The Bow Pro 48 Volt offers all the features of the standard Bow Pro, is available in several tunnel and propeller sizes and has enough power to move a runabout in the desired direction. Recommended battery sizes for the Bow Pro series are slightly larger than conventional DC thrusters so keep that in mind when considering a retrofit.

Control Panels

The Bow Pro thrusters can be paired with one of three panels. They all provide, safe, easy proportional control of the vessel. Each has an aluminum bezel and installation requires a 2.95” (75 mm) hole. They’re waterproof to IP65 rating and are compliant with V-Can Canbus protocol. Each one has a status indicator.

The BPPPA panel is the most basic control for the Bow Pro thruster series.

The BPPJA joystick can be used with more than two stations and has hold and lock function.

The DBPPJA controls bow and stern thrusters and has a twist function to rotate the boat.

Vetus Bow Pro Thruster Features

  • Precise, proportional control
  • CAN based/digital control for easier interfacing with aftermarket joystick docking systems
  • Electronic switching eliminates mechanical solenoids
  • Resistant to abuse
  • Bow Pro Thrusters run 10 minutes at full power and then it’s reduced
  • At less than full power setting, the run time is enhanced
  • When paired with the BPPJA panel (sold separately), single-person docking is an option
  • Maintenance-free brushless motor
  • Sealed for improved corrosion protection
  • Built-in over-temp and low-battery protection
  • Efficient, safe, reliable

Additional Components Required for Installation (sold separately)

  • Tunnel. Most common length is 40” (1000mm) with centerline 150mm (5.91”) below the water. Part# BP150G10
  • CAN-bus Hub: BPCANHUB
  • CAN-bus supply (12-volt only): BPCABCPC
  • Joystick panel with HOLD: BPPJA
  • Joystick panel with NO HOLD: BPPA
  • VCAN Bus Cable: BPCABC10M
  • VCAN Cable Controller to Hub: 33’ (10m)
  • VCAN Bus cable: BPCABC1M
  • VCAN Cable Hub to Thruster: 3’ (1m)
  • CAN-bus terminator: BPCANT
  • Power circuit fuse holder: ZEHC100
  • Power circuit fuse holder: ZE200