It is one of the most stressful aspects of pilotage for the novice or less experienced boat owner: You must maneuver your vessel within a crowded marina, at a boat ramp on a busy Sunday afternoon, to secure your beaching spot at a crowded party cove, or to moor up at a waterfront restaurant while the crowd watches. Tides, currents, and the wind may not be cooperating and while you can always just repair or ignore your own scratches and scrapes, your fellow boaters may not be so friendly if you damage their boat and ruin their day! Damage you do to a dock is also your responsibility as the skipper. Boaters who put many of these types of claims through their insurance cover, likely face increased rates, higher deductibles, or find themselves without a carrier. Scrape up a super yacht, and one might be faced with a claim for a re-coating of the whole hull!
For years big boats have had the benefit of bow and stern thrusters and joystick controls to maneuver more comfortably and securely in tight quarters. But this same maneuverability is now becoming more available for smaller craft with outboard power due to joystick piloting systems being developed for applications in these smaller vessels. One recently introduced system is Evinrude’s* iDock joystick system with an MSRP of $5,999. The lower price point on this system may be a game changer as it makes this technology available to the smaller recreational boater.
The joystick systems for outboard motors, whether Evinrude’s or those of other manufacturers, will surely become the new standard in the future and we expect the price points to drop sharply over the years ahead. With docking being the main anxiety of recreational boaters, this is a welcome technological development! These systems are like ABS brakes on cars or simplified drone joystick controls that even a child can operate** and will make boating safer and more relaxing in the future for all. While skilled skippers are adept at piloting their boats in close quarters without these “gadgets”, we think even the old sea dogs will welcome this technology because it means the more novice operators, when using joysticks, are less likely to cause delay at the boat ramps or scratch someone else’s coat in the marina.
Technologies like these will lead to safer boating, less accidents, and make boating more accessible to all. Ultimately, in the future this will also lead to fewer insurance claims in the outboard powered small craft segment.
* At Sunrise Marine Risks we are proud that Ralph Evinrude, son of Ole Evinrude lived here on the Treasure Coast in Stuart Florida.
** Check out YouTube for some interesting videos showing these systems in operation with outboards operating in opposite directions or a pontoon boat effortlessly making a 360 spin!© Sunrise Marine Risks and sunrisemarinerisks.com, 2017. All rights reserved.