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Mercury’s Skyhook and Auto Heading

Vessels can hold their position with Mercury's Skyhook
Vessels can hold their position with Mercury’s Skyhook

As mentioned in the previous article, (Mercury’s Joystick Control – http://www.allatsea.net/mercurys-joystick-control/) joystick controls are becoming a possibility not only with pod drives and outdrives but also with some newer outboards. Mercury has introduced its version of outboard joystick control and now it is not only possible to control multiple Verado outboards with a single joystick, but you can also do some other pretty amazing things with this new technology.

Mercury’s new joystick can control multiple Verado 250 or 300 outboards independently, allowing each engine to operate with its own independent steering actuator and cylinder rotating and pivoting in any direction, enabling a boat to travel sideways or even pivot on its own axis, allowing easy tight quarter maneuvering, all in a way never before possible. This ability on its own is an astonishing feat and once attempted it is very difficult not to want it on every boat. It’s arguable that this system makes any multiple outboard boat as easy (or easier) to steer than a twin engine inboard in tight quarters. But Mercury was not just satisfied with producing a simple and effective joystick system. It took it one step further.

Mercury Introduces Skyhook and Auto Heading

Mercury’s Skyhook is an ingenious navigation tool that takes the technology of the joystick and the independently controlled outboards and combines it with a GPS input allowing a vessel to be virtually “anchored” to a location. The technology behind the system is complex but its operation is simple and thus easy to use.

We have all been in the situation where we are waiting for a bridge to open, or sitting waiting for an opening at a ramp or a fuel dock and having to work the throttles and wheel to maintain a position as best we can. This can be particularly difficult in a strong wind or current. Not so any more with Mercury’s joystick controls. Simply lock in your position and let the GPS position information controls the outboards, allowing them to move as necessary to maintain the position and heading. Anglers can even use this to maintain a position (particularly useful for sailfishing, swordfishing, jigging or any kind of fishing where you want to hold your position without having to put out an anchor.)

Adding Auto Heading to this new system also gives the owner of new Verado 250 and 300 motors a built-in autopilot. Utilizing a built-in compass the captain can maintain a heading and can even change the heading in one-degree increments at the joystick or 10 degrees increments through the control panel. Waypoint sequencing allows the captain to make stops along the way and can just pick up and go to the next point seamlessly.

This new joystick technology has lots of potential and certainly makes the captain’s life easier, reducing stress and difficulty in navigating. Once you get your hands on this system you will wonder how you ever managed without it.

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