You leave your dock headed for the Islands with thoughts of fun in the sun on your mind, the wind in your hair! You head on down the channel and notice that the wind starts to pick up more than the weatherman predicted. You think to yourself, “Hhhhmmmmm….it may be a bit rough, but the ole Whaler can handle it!” As you get closer to the islands, the fear starts to set in. What if a bunch of people are there? What if the boats in the docks have me pinched in tight? What if I miss a turn and take it too wide? What if I damage my boat? What if i damage some else’s boat?!?!?!?!?!?!?
If you are like most boaters, the biggest anxiety you will have as a boater is docking your baby! All of the fears above plus several others can take some of the fun out the experience, and who wants that?!?! The reason to have a boat is to enjoy endless fun on the water, not to worry about docking your boat when you have lots of eyeballs looking at you! Boaters are generally very helpful and any time I have went to a Lake Erie Island, they are there to help me get into the dock, but I would be fibbing if I said I have never been a bit anxious in a strong wind! I drive different boats all the time which can be a curse when docking because I never get a “feel” for one boat. I can’t really complain about being able to run lots of different boats as things could certainly be worse, but if the boat has a Joystick, my problems are solved!
If you have been in the market for a boat within the last few years, you may have noticed some new technology has hit the market. They now have joystick piloting in several capacities for several different styles of boats! This is only available in boats with 2 or more engines but it is an amazing technology for boaters new or old! This takes the anxiety out of docking a boat, and enables people who previously wouldn’t attempt to drive boat, become PROS!
I have witnessed a 12 yr old dock a 32ft boat in a strong wind effortlessly with this system! Actually, it seems that it is easiest for the younger generation to adapt to because they have been using joysticks and controllers their entire lives! The systems work by using independent drives that do not need to turn the same direction at the same time. They then use a computer system to determine (as you spin the knob) how much power to put to which drive, in which gear, and at what direction! This enables you to go in any direction you want or in a 360 degree turn, all with the spin of a joystick! This enables you to go sideways off a windward dock, diagonal to “parallel” park between boats, back up to a dock to let someone board or get off your boat, or do a 360 turn and head right back where you came from! Absolutely amazing technology that has revolutionized the boating industry.
I have ran a few different versions of this but believe that Mercury’s version and Mercruiser’s version are the best on the market. The main reason is due to the actual Joystick itself which is a bit bigger around and more comfortable to use. I have also found that is it isn’t as touchy as the other brands I have used which is a major plus. See the following video’s on how effortless this is:
Other than the docking feature, you may have noticed in the videos that Mercury/Mercruiser also has a feature called Skyhook which is yet another awesome feature! This enables you to anchor the boat without throwing an anchor! With the push of a button you can now keep your boat within a boat length of its current position without throwing an anchor. Why would you want to do that? Think about waiting for a bridge to open, watching fireworks, fishing a wreck in deep water….the options are endless!
If you are considering a new boat purchase, you NEED to look at this technology, as it is just another way to make sure you enjoy the water! It is a fairly pricey option, but docking in a 30mph wind without being anxious is PRICELESS!!!!!!
See you on the water,
Clemons Boats - Life is better on a boat!