We spoke with Josh Slayton of Scout Boats, the Product Specialist and Concierge for the company’s luxury line of center consoles called LXF, to discuss why they have equipped their larger LXF models with Side-Power proportional control bow and, more recently, stern thrusters.
When Scout launched the 420 LXF in 2015, Slayton says that they encouraged customers to take advantage of the bow thruster option in the belief that they would appreciate the extra maneuverability for these larger boats around the docks. In the years since, Slayton says, the option has been so popular that he can’t remember the last time they sold a boat without one.
Even though the 420 already had joystick systems with either Mercury or Yamaha power, the proportional Side-Power thrusters provided what Slayton calls a “hidden feature, because they can use just a little bit when they need it.” For less experienced captains, applying small amounts of thrust gives a nice safety outlet because, as Slayton explains, “It hides the fact you’re using it from spectators.”
Not every owner was sold on the idea of equipping their boat with a proportional bow thruster at first, given that it already had four joystick-enabled outboards. But whenever customers visited the Scout plant and went for a demo drive in nearby Charleston, Slayton says they decided they wanted the bow thruster after all, as a nice complement to the joystick.
Many of the LXF models are sold to serve as yacht tenders, Slayton adds, which means they come alongside larger yachts anchored out where there may often be a bit more wind and wave action. All of them want the proportional bow thruster, he said.
Scout now has a 380 LXF and 530 LXF that also sell with proportional control thrusters, the 380 as an optional feature and the 530 as standard equipment. Side-Power brand thrusters are used on all of the 380s and about half of the 530s, notably on two recently launched 530s, each also equipped with a matching pair of Side-Power proportional-control stern thrusters. Slayton says the stern thrusters, pictured below, are simple to install on the transom and are very effective, especially for customers who dock their boats in shallow water and tilt up the outboards slightly as they approach the dock.
“We build one of the most luxurious center consoles on the market,” Slayton says, “and customers who buy the LXF models have very high expectations.” What do they say about their Side-Power thrusters? Slayton says that they receive a silent compliment—no comments: “If anything isn’t working to a high standard, we hear about it.”