A Review of JetBoatPilot’s Lateral Thrusters: An Unfortunate Necessity
Summer is almost here! Well… I guess there is always that chance that you are reading this article during summer or even POST summer and in that case, I’m going to have to ask that you use your imagination and bear with me...
What I’m trying to say is this, if you have found yourself either owning a Yamaha Jet boat or thinking about owning a Yamaha Jet-boat and daydreaming of the fun you're going to have, you may also be thinking about steering upgrades. Now, before you go and get your knickers in a knot, let me be clear. We understand that not all Yamaha boat owners need steering or control aids and we understand your reasoning. We have been in the forums and seen plenty of happy Yamaha Jet boaters who feel that the factory set up is more than adequate, but for those of you who enjoy letting other “less experienced” boaters operate your vessel and want to make that task simpler, you may be very interested in this product.
Operating our boat in the often strong winds and currents that we do, we decided to give the lateral thrusters a try. We installed the JetBoatPilot’s (JBP) Lateral Thruster System on our 2018 Yamaha 242X and this is what we think!
Quality of Components
I have to say, after these fine pieces of craftsmanship showed up on my doorstep, I was more than happy with the quality. All of the hardware appears to be high-quality stainless steel and the thrusters themselves appear to be made from the same metal as the factory Yamaha jet pump nozzle. So far, we have noticed zero degradation in the product over time and after the installation was completed, we were very impressed by the way the lateral thrusters appeared to be factory branded accessory.
We have no complaints in this department and we were more than pleased with the fit and finish of this product.
What’s In The Box & What Will I Need?
While the kit comes with nearly everything you need to securely install the JBP’s lateral thruster system to your vessel you will still need a couple of items. Below you will find a list of both the things you need and the things that are included in the kit.
In The Box
2x Lateral Thrusters (unless you got the single kit)
2x Stabilizer Straps
2x Mountain Bolts
1x Red Thread Locker
2x Stabilizer Strap Hardware Assemblies
What You Will Need
14mm Wrench & Socket
Installation & Instructions
At first, I was a little intimidated. We spent a lot of money on our new jet boat and were not thrilled at the idea of installing aftermarket products on it and frankly, we were even less thrilled that we felt the need for it in the first place. With that aside, the installation of this product was surprisingly easy. Like, really easy…
JBP does a fantastic job of providing you with both detailed instructions (as well as color photos) AND providing you even more useful youtube videos which will guide you through the entire installation process. While the lateral thrusters are extremely easy to install, we were very glad to have these resources at our fingertips to ensure correctness and prevent any issues with our install.
You may also be glad to hear (as we were) that the installation of these thrusters is completely “plug & play” and requires no drilling (HOORAY!). Not only that, there are no moving parts with this kit so all you need to do is insert the bolts, tighten things up and you are ready to go. Considering the fact that the kit included nearly everything we needed, we feel like the installation was as easy as pie and took us a grand total of maybe 10 to 15 minutes.
…and for the sake of convenience, we have linked one of the manufacturers installation videos below!
Before we get too far, let’s make sure we are all on the same page. The JetBoatPilot’s Lateral Thrusters for Yamaha Jet Boats are listed at $399.99 for the twin-engine kit (HERE) or 249.99 for the single-engine kit (HERE) directly from their website. Now, this is the part where I usually say “BUT WAIT, at least you get free shipping and no tax” but unfortunately that would not at all be true. You are going to have to pay for both tax and shipping… or at least, there is a good chance you will.
*For reference, our shipping rate was 24.99 (Flat Rate) for all of our items including the Lateral Thrusters and the Thrust Vector XV’s.
The Good News?
Fortunately, you can find these on sale from time to time. For instance, if you decide you want to bundle these with the Thrust Vectors you can buy them together and save $50. Additionally, if you sign up for their emails (be careful, they like to send them) you can often be alerted to flash sales and free shipping promotions.
Alternatively, if you are a member of the JetBoaters.net forum (Here) you can sometimes catch bulk order deals which can be extremely good. In addition to the website having loads of useful information and very helpful members, JetBoatPilot offers occasional bulk pricing to the sites members when more than a few people purchase at the same time. We were lucky enough to get in on one of these purchases and scored 30% off!
Now let's get to the meat and potatoes… PERFORMANCE.
That being said, these lateral thrusters are incredible and we noticed a significant performance improvement immediately after installing. Don’t get me wrong, you are not going to get a 50+ HP gain or anything if that is what you were expecting, but your maneuverability around tight spaces or at the boat ramp is exponentially improved. We boat almost exclusively in the intercostal waterway and the ramp we use is both skinny and greatly impacted by the wind and current. With our Yamaha 242X, we initially had some tough times getting the boat on the trailer with strong currents, strong winds, or both… As a newbie to the jet boating world, I have to admit that my experience level was relatively low. While I have plenty of experience boating, this was our first Jet Boat and it showed but I still feel that the boat itself is lacking in reverse capabilities.
Now though, with these installed, we are able to better navigate around the boat ramp and much more capable of spinning the boat on a dime when anchoring in tight spaces at sandbars crowded with other boats. Precision maneuvering is now much more effortless and it has made the learning curve much less steep on this particular boat.
Overall, these lateral thrusters have proven to be reliable, durable, dependable, unobtrusive, and easily compatible with other accessories such as the Thrust Vector XV’s.
What You Won’t See
Changes To Your Wake - We did not see any change to the wave behind the boat… that is until we installed the Thrust Vector XV’s. The Lateral Thrusters by themselves though caused no noticeable to the wake.
Changes In Speed - If there was a difference, we didn’t see it. Your speed capabilities should not be affected.
Change in Draft - The Lateral Thrusters do not sit below the keel and therefore cause no change in draft depth. Once installed they are up high and out of the way.
*Another thing that is very important to note regarding the performance is that these thrusters do not divert ALL of the reverse thrust. I would guess that you are only diverting about 30% of the thrust to get the boat turning while still allowing the reverse thrust to do its job.
Before we decided to purchase the JBP Lateral Thrusters we spent a lot of time on the phone JetBoatPilot asking random questions about the products offered and their installation. Each time my call was answered quickly and in a very friendly manner, which to me, is very important. Not only that, I spoke with a man named Will numerous times about technical questions (mainly about my XV Thrusters) and was amazed at how informative and accommodating he was.
In my experience, the customer service at JetBoatPilot has been exceptional. They have treated me right and been extremely helpful throughout the entire buying process. While there is always the slight chance that this has been isolated incident, the amount of praise regarding their customer service and quality of their products online speaks for itself.
These are quality people selling a quality product.
This product comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty and based on our experience with their customer service team, they mean it. Having held these things in my hand and felt the quality of craftsmanship first hand, I find it extremely unlikely that you would ever run into any issues but if you did, I feel confident that JetBoatPilot will promptly take care of you.
A Word of Caution:
There are other great products out on the market. Some of them will work perfectly with your Lateral Thrusters but if you did decide to use them with your Lateral Thrusters, you may be voiding your warranty. I have seen some heated discussions on this topic and you can proceed how you wish but according to JetBoatPilot, its competitor's fins are incompatible and if you want to keep your warranty, you will have to refrain from using them with your lateral thrusters.
Where To Buy & Shipping Times
Like we mentioned above, we purchased our lateral thrusters directly from JetBoatPilot (HERE) and to our knowledge, that is the only way to purchase their items. If you decide that you need a set for yourself, you are going to have to do the same.
As far as shipping is concerned, our Lateral Thrusters arrived in just under 2 weeks and considering we purchased under a bulk order, we weren’t upset about it. Our Thrust Vectors, however, took nearly two months to arrive and that left us a bit irritated. We expected there to be a bit of a delay and considering we were getting 30% off, we weren’t going to complain, but if you are in a rush to get your items we suggest ordering as soon as possible or calling to check that your items are in stock and ready to ship.
The Grand Conclusion
The JetBoatPilot Lateral Thrusters promise “dramatically enhanced” reverse steering control and I am here to say that it more than delivers. As it happens, this was the first accessory we added to the boat and it has without a doubt been the most significant. It has changed the way we use our boat and helped to give us more control over our boat at all times. At this point, we have been using these Lateral Thrusters since last year and we wouldn’t trade them for the world.
Sure, considering the simplicity of the product, I do feel like these are a bit overpriced at MSRP but if you are like us and just spent around 70k on your new Yamaha Jet Boat, $400 for drastically improved reverse capabilities may be well worth it for you. We are incredibly happy that we made this purchase and recommend it as the first upgrade anyone should do to their new Yamaha Jet Boat. After installing ours our immediate reaction was “this is how the boat should have worked from the factory”.
You will most likely hear the “seasoned veterans” arguing that you can learn to drive your boat just fine without accessories such as these but we are here to say, not only do they work, they work incredibly well. If you generally run your boat in a calm area that isn’t affected by wind or current I’m sure you can get on just fine without this kit but If you find yourself asking if there is a way to improve your reverse capabilities, the answer is that there is and this is it. Although we wish we didn’t need them, we sure are glad we have them and think you will feel the same. With summer just around the corner, you may be feeling froggy and thinking you need a new set of JBP’s Lateral Thrusters will take your summer from ordinary to extraordinary and you are right. We have thoroughly tested them, we have no complaints other than the fact that they are not free, and we know you are going to be impressed.
Fitment - Worried about whether or not these will fit your boat? JBP’s website states that these thrusters will bolt on with no drilling to most all Yamaha Jet Boat’s model years 1996 - 2018. If your boat is outside of this range or if you just bought a brand new 2019, we suggest giving them a call to see what other options you may have. You can find their contact information HERE.