It’s not exactly the joystick of video game fame, but helm master can maneuver mid to large-sized boats with pinpoint precision and ease. Yamaha launched Helm Master, its innovative boat control system, at the Feb. 14-18 Miami Boat Show.
The Helm Master control system is designed for boats with twin or triple mounts of Yamaha’s 4.2L, V6 or 5.3L V8 outboards, providing electronic control of all gear shifting, steering and throttle functions. The joystick complements the standard steering and remote control unit and is designed to make operation in close quarters simpler and less stressful. It enables intuitive maneuverability of 360-degree motion, an advantage in narrow waterways, and the in-place bow rotation allows fishermen to hover over a particular spot.
According to Martin Peters, communications manager at Yamaha Marine Group, the real purpose of the Helm Master system is for more boating access and to make it easier for boaters. “The ease with which novice boaters grasped the idea of using the joystick to maneuver the boat during teaching sea trials was the best scenario,” said Peters.
Visitors can get up close and personal to view the system at Everglades Boats in the Convention Center or try their hand during sea trials on Everglades’ 355T at the Yamaha in-water booth. “We have a close relationship with Yamaha and are delighted they chose Everglades Boats to officially introduce the Helm Master system in Miami,” said Bryan Harris, vice president of sales and marketing at Everglades, headquartered in Edgewater, Fla.
Specific for each boat, the fully integrated Helm Master system incorporates pre-set automatic trim and speed selectors for optimal trim level from open throttle to coming off plane.
“This is not just about a joystick, it is about all the features incorporated into the system,” said Peters. “It is the convenience of the automatic trim control and adjustment of steering friction. At low speeds the friction is very light and becomes tighter with increased speeds, giving you the feel of more control.”
With a push of the button, both throttle levers convert to a single lever control handling all functions. Since the axis is in the center of the boat and not at the stern, captains no longer have to look aft to watch the engines.
“The Helm System makes running a larger multi-engine boat easier,” said Harris. “When you turn to the right, the boat goes to the right. When you turn to the left, it goes to the left. I know a great majority of our customers will want this system.”
At slower speeds, the controls converge to the joystick with the touch of a button. Gone is the sometimes harrowing back and forth parallel parking-style maneuvering when docking in tight spaces. A bow thruster is no longer necessary with the true drive-by-wire system. Simply push the joystick in the direction of the dock and the boat will approach sideways.
“It’s easy to learn,” said Harris. “Anybody can do this.”