Learning to drive a Super Yacht
So its a little presumptuous to call a 50 footer a super yacht but if its over a million dollars and goes like a rocket, then I’ll just take that liberty. Somebody who makes a purchase like this may not hire a full time captain – but even your captain will tell you its a heck of a lot of fun to drive!
“Driving a boat is not quite like driving a car” your captain will tell you and he’s not wrong. You need to negotiate wind and currents and remember your boat turns from the back. You still have the steering wheel like you do in a car but learning to operate a craft using two levers may seem a little strange to some. Now I must say I really like to dock a boat using the levers but for those who don’t, you need not fear. Volvo Penta came out with their IPS joystick system in 2004 and its showing no signs of disappearing. ZF came out with their JMS and Caterpillar has also recently launched their exciting Three60 pod maneuvering system that accomodates 650hp. Nowadays even the outboard manufacturers like Yamaha have joysticks to add to center consoles for ease of maneuvering. Boats owners that have direct drives(prop shafts) need not worry either because Xenta has brought out a joystick that synchronizes with your thrusters to give you a motion that is practically just as convenient.
I’ve heard it said that joysticks could practically enable almost anyone to walk in off the street and just drive a fifty foot boat. You could give it a try but I think you may find your insurance company backing out of the deal. There’s more to learn about being a captain than just docking a boat but docking definitely has been made easier with the use of a joystick. Beneteau’s new flagship, the GT50, featured in this article is a beauty and no slouch at either speed or maneuverability but that is for another article. Below I have attached a link of Jenna taking her first attempt at handling an IPS joystick and doing remarkably well.
Every new owner that I have taught to drive their new purchase have had a few things in common: Curiosity, humility and the inclination to have fun. And why not? Boating is all about starting something new. Most of the boat owners I have worked with like to drive their boats and do so on a fairly regular basis. Most of them also make regular use of a captain for those days when they go fishing, have conferences on board, have family gatherings or just want to be out enjoying the ocean. Life is about adventure and either way you do this, adventure and boating go hand in hand.