Re: [Amel Yacht Owners] New Bowthruster unit - cost and in-stock?
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Hi sorry to hear of your troubles but as you rightly say it could have been much worse.
I reckon that when pounding to windward there will be considerable pressure put on the seals with no plate there to take the impact. Going to windward in open ocean is not much fun at the best of times but with a niggling worry or a steady stream of water pouring in it could easily get out of hand. So you should do something. I made a similar passage in the 1990’s and Cap D’hombre on the north tip of Madagascar permanently blows at gale force. The southern Indian Ocean is a windy place, the trades tend to crank so even broad reaching the bow area will take a damn good hammering at times.
I would consider;
fitting a block of rubber/wood into the hole with silicon. The problem with wood is that it will swell and be difficult to extract.
filling the cavity with closed cell expanding foam.
How about, fitting plastic sheet to isolate the hole and then use expanding foam to fill the whole cavity, then cut it to shape and glass over the whole aperture area with epoxy and fibre glass. Then when you next haul out just grind it off and pick out the foam and fit the new thruster, fill and prime and paint. You would need to get the bow out of the water to do the work. Perhaps going aground alongside somewhere and letting the tide drop a couple of feet to expose the area.
I am sure that with a bit of lateral thinking you could blank off the aperture such that you would not need to worry about water ingress. Just make sure that you can extract and clean up what ever you do when you are ready to replace the thruster.
The above solution would be more watertight than the original!
You could also look at doing something on the inside but ………