Category Archives: Equipment


DSC_2809Smooth Operator

ZF transmission technology reaches new levels of shift speed and comfort with Supershift 2.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

ZF, founded in 1915 in Friedrichshafen, Germany, and known for its innovative engineering vision in the automotive sector, has had many groundbreaking products find their way into the marine sector; transmissions, pod drives, steerable azimuth and tunnel thrusters, controls, propellers, and surface drives among others. The company’s latest advancement is Supershift 2, an evolution of ZF’s high horsepower marine transmissions.

“ZF launched the world’s first eight- and nine-speed automatic transmissions for passenger cars, so we talked to yacht builders and captains to see how we could adapt this technology to marine,” explained ZF Director of Industrial Technology, Wolfgang Schmid. “Supershift 2 provides a much smoother gear change with more efficient hydraulic system and increased robustness in the design.”

I recently did a sea trial on the latest Viking sportfishing yacht to hit the water. The 92C is a massive boat whose design and function, that is to supply ultimate comfort and performance while in the pursuit of big game fish, is well realized. In this nautical scribe’s opinion, she achieved, and surpassed, on both assignments.

One of the more notable experiences I had aboard that day was watching veteran Viking captain Ryan Higgins expertly put her through her paces; flat out speed runs, seemingly hair pin turns, acceleration runs, and most impressive, our backing down maneuvers during ‘fighting a tourney-hooked fish’.

The awesome Viking 92C is powered by a pair of 2,635 hp MTU 16V2000 diesels running ZF Smooth Shift 5050 transmissions  with SuperShift2.

The awesome Viking 92C is powered by a pair of 2,635 hp MTU 16V2000 diesels running ZF Smooth Shift 5050 transmissions with SuperShift2. (Photo Credit: Capt. Ken Kreisler)

Higgins was able to maintain complete control, and as I noted, obtain smooth and immediate engagement over the big boat without losing the all- important ‘bump’ when going from neutral to forward or reverse. He even had her pirouette like a prima ballerina while doing eight knots in reverse. All this because of her superbly designed hull form and machinery; a pair of 2,600-horsepower MTU 16V2000 M96Ls coupled to ZF Smooth Shift 5050 transmissions with Supershift 2 technology. “The Supershift 2 transmissions shift smoothly and precisely every time, and the trolling valves work perfectly,” said Bill Gibbons, a Senior Project Engineer with Viking Yachts.

ZF Marine transmissions, rated up to 14,000 kW, are available in many configurations.

ZF Marine transmissions, rated up to 14,000 kW, are available in many configurations. (Photo Credit: ZF)

To understand how this important component works, let’s take a general look at what your engine’s transmission does. Around the dock, and as known by most engine mechanics, the tail end attached to the aft portion of your inboard engine is called the marine gear and has three main functions: to put your engine(s) in neutral, forward, and reverse. It does this in today’s now ‘standard’ electronic format by engaging and disengaging a series of highly machined and accurately designed clutches and rotating gears, using an oil pump to create hydraulic pressure for the movement, as per commands from your helm controls.

ZF Marine Propulsion first introduced its Supershift technology over ten years ago now and with it, set a new standard for high horsepower vessels. “Back then Supershift was the new generation of integrated hydraulic electronic shifting technology that came to the pleasure craft segment, one that had, for the most part, switched over from mechanical operations,” said Martin Meissner, Marketing and Communications Manager for ZF North America. “With Supershift 2, our engineers looked at ways we could improve the shift quality, feel, and reaction time within the transmission.”

For those of us who put in time at the wheel, this last notion mentioned by Meissner is quite important. The operations of our marine gears is something we have come to almost take for granted and, with the familiar ‘shift feel’ of the machinery, whether using pods or the more traditional inboard designs, we know just how our boats are going to react while cruising, out at sea, or in maneuvers and, at those necessary times, during tight quarter situations around the dock.

CruiseCommand control systems utilize the latest technology in system communications. Additionally, one circuit board contains all product features, eliminating the need for any auxiliary circuit boards. Units are preprogrammed at the factory, or they can be customized for specific features.

CruiseCommand control systems utilize the latest technology in system communications. Additionally, one circuit board contains all product features, eliminating the need for any auxiliary circuit boards. Units are preprogrammed at the factory, or they can be customized for specific features. (Photo Credit: ZF)

To achieve this and other goals, ZF began by looking at the tolerances of the clutch packs; the series of plates and discs that, when hydraulic pressure is applied to, will cause them to close up and create the engagement of the gear ratio. By tightening up those tolerances when that force is applied, a more immediate reaction will be achieved. The trick however, is to find just the right balance while working within mere millimeters of space that will still allow the all-important hydraulic fluid to flow so that any drag, caused by having too much space, will be eliminated. In other words, your engine(s) will really be in neutral when you put your controls in that position.

But that is just one part of the entire system and to attain the results ZF wanted for this latest version, achieving the proper balance throughout was necessary. “All of the hydraulics, and the ability to push the fluid through, needed to be looked at to see where we could instill any improvements,” said Meissner. “In our view, these were evolutionary advances in an already successful and proven system we knew we could, and did, put into play.”

As far as maintenance is concerned, ZF has, of course, built-in warnings and error codes in its highly sophisticated electronics package that will appear on a digital display should anything of concern show up. Should this be the case, a phone call to an authorized ZF technician is in order.

From someone who has put many hours into engine rooms, as well as in my discussions with ZF personnel, regular routine examination of the transmission oil, housing and its connections is advised. Always look for any telltale signs of oil leak or sweat or if any salt water is dripping on the covering from somewhere else in the engine room. Become familiar with your owner’s manual and follow all directions and schedules for regular oil and filter changes. Doing so will result in a long and productive life for your sophisticated ZF equipment, peace of mind, and smooth, dependable operations while your vessel is in your hands.

For more information, and complete worldwide operations contacts, visit the company Website a

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 5, 2015 in Equipment


Tags: ,




For those of us who call stateside home, traveling to foreign ports can often present a minefield of problems one just has to navigate through. Besides the usual waiting time for customs clearance, and the sometimes grueling and seemingly never ending inspection process, visiting boaters trying to plug their boats into dockside power can leave one no other choice but to run the on board generator to keep things going.

Now U.S. boats destined for international waters can rely on safe ship-to-shore power options from Hubbell and its 63 amp, 230 volt products. This is the only CE-certified electrical shore power system dedicated to overseas use.

hub21816-x7hWhile featuring traditional marine styling, Hubbell’s 63 amp products are intended for use with 50 cycle systems only, and not interchangeable with US systems. Like other Hubbell international shore power offerings, this configuration utilizes standard NEMA designs not normally found in the marine market.

Constructed of 316 stainless steel, the 63 amp products resemble ordinary shore power fixtures. Built to Hubbell’s high quality standards, they offer a watertight seal. A nickel-plated rear enclosure and contact blades ensure corrosion resistance. The unique thermoset interior resists arcing and heat build-up 400% more than typical interiors. Pressure-screw terminals deliver secure terminations.

Hubbell also offers 100, 125 and 200 amp pin and sleeve shore power systems, including back boxes and feed-through boxes for inlets and receptacles.

Contact Hubbell Marine Electrical Products, 40 Waterview Dr., Shelton, CT 06484.
475-882-4838; Fax: 203-783-9195.


Leave a comment

Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Equipment


Tags: , , ,



Equipment noise can quickly spoil the ambiance of even the most luxurious craft. Such problems are a thing of the past for lovely 130′ Lady Kath, according to her captain, Bill Hipple. A new Marine Exhaust Systems G-19 water drop generator muffler significantly reduced genset exhaust noise, creating more peaceful days and nights for all onboard.

After the installation, Lady Kath’s 65 kW naturally aspirated Northern Lights generator exhaust was only 74 dBA. This allows normal tone conversation. The G-19 water drop muffler accommodates gensets rated from 30-85 kW; 105 kW units are available on request.
Luxury afloat as personified by the 130-foot Lady Kath.

Luxury afloat as personified by the 130-foot Lady Kath.

This muffler’s powerful sound-dampening capability belies its compact, low profile, one-piece design. It blends well into any engine room setup, whether on the hull side or the bulkhead, and accepts a wide variety of exhaust system configurations. With half the number of hoses and clamps of a conventional two-piece water separation arrangement muffler, the streamlined Marine Exhaust Systems unit reduces engine room clutter.

“Marine Exhaust Systems’ water drop generator muffler is far superior to our boat’s

Northern Lights' M1064T2 65 kW genset.

Northern Lights’ M1064T2 65 kW genset.

original equipment,” said Capt. Hipple. “The sound level is now extremely pleasant, compared to what had been unbearable equipment that came with the boat. The fact that everything is contained in one unit makes it simple to install. It’s also attractively priced,” he said.

A noticeable, and welcome, drop in noise level, was achieved aboard Lady Kath once the Marine Exhaust Systems G-19 was installed.

A noticeable, and welcome, drop in noise level, was achieved aboard Lady Kath once the Marine Exhaust Systems G-19 was installed.

Some standard water lift mufflers can be noisy, as both exhaust gas and exhaust water exit above the waterline. The Marine Exhaust Systems water drop version combines a water/gas separator and muffler in one streamlined piece. It’s a much quieter configuration, where water exhausts below the waterline and only a small above-the-waterline gas exhaust outlet is needed.

Made of a fire-retardant resin, the muffler features 316L stainless steel, crush-resistant rings at all hose connections. A bottom flange facilitates easy installation. Marine Exhaust Systems will tailor the position of the muffler’s inlet/outlet locations to meet any application. The unit comes with a standard white fiberglass finish, and show-quality finishes are available on request.

A top choice of boatbuilders and engine manufacturers, Marine Exhaust Systems meets the needs of the commercial, military and leisure yachting industries around the world. The company is dedicated to providing its customers innovative technology with reliable and efficient service and support.

            For more information, contact Marine Exhaust Systems Inc., 3640 Fiscal Ct., Riviera Beach, FL 33404. 561-848-1238; Fax 561-848-1298.

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 11, 2014 in Equipment


Tags: , , ,


logo_DI_reflxbluSometimes the most simple of ideas can make a really big difference. Davis Instruments, a privately held manufacturing company and developer of exceptional instruments for weather, marine, and automotive use, prides itself on innovative, high-quality products at reasonable prices. The company, headquartered in Hayward, California, has stood on its reputation for solid engineering and outstanding customer service for over 30 years. -Capt. Ken


Every owner knows that constant, harsh shock on a boat is not only very annoying, but it can be dangerous. The consistent snapping and jarring of dock lines, anchor chains, tow lines and other rope and cable connections can put massive stress on cleats, railings and shackles affecting the entire vessel. Davis Instruments’ LineSnubber is a multi-purpose shock absorber for use on any boat. Its progressive tension design with internal stretch limiter reduces shock loads on dock lines, towing lines, tie-downs and preventers.

The LineSnubber’s patented design reduces shock to any line, cleat or ground tackle, including bow rollers and rigging because the further it stretches, the greater the return force. Noise from creaking, groaning dock lines or ground tackle is greatly reduced, while jarring is also minimized. LineSnubbers fit all sizes of braided or twisted dock lines from 3/8″ diameter up to 1″. One size fits all.

The Davis LineSnubber can mean the difference between damage and keeping your boat safe.

The Davis LineSnubber can mean the difference between damage and keeping your boat safe.

A simple clove hitch makes attaching, adjusting or removing the LineSnubber simple. Another easy way to attach the LineSnubber is with Davis’ LineGrabber. The LineGrabber works by cinching tight around any line.

The life of dock and anchor lines is increased by reducing chafe. The LineSnubber compensates for tidal surges and chop from wind waves.

When rigged properly, it keeps boats centered in the slip. The LineSnubber has many uses, including tender towing, boom preventer, boom tie down, spinnaker tack, anchoring and docking.

The LineSnubber is constructed from the toughest marine-grade shock cord, and covered with 100% nylon webbing for complete sun and abrasion resistance from end to end. The 316 stainless steel carabiners at each end make adjusting or removing LineSnubber a snap. For high-stress applications, users clip two side-by-side for double strength. The 20″ LineSnubber is available in blue or black.

           For more information, contact Davis Instruments, 3465 Diablo Ave., Hayward, CA  94545. 510-732-9229; Fax: 510-732-9188.


Leave a comment

Posted by on February 10, 2014 in Equipment


Tags: , , ,


mma_shell_headerAs with everywhere in our watery experience, the outboard sector of the boating industry is constantly testing itself and its products for both performance, safety, and environmental impact. Mercury Marine, long a pioneer in this area, as well as being a forward thinking company, has been working on its prop technology and presents its latest offering, the Enertia line; which, according to the company, will help to maximize fuel economy in high horsepower engines. -Capt. Ken

Mercury Enertia ECO Propeller 

Addressing the related topics of increasing fuel costs and environmental stewardship, Mercury Marine is pleased to announce the new Enertia ECO propeller has been released for sale today to the Mercury Marine dealer network.

The Mercury Enertia ECO was specifically designed for high-horsepower outboard-powered boats, offering boaters a 10 percent increase in fuel economy at cruising speeds while also living up to the performance and reliability standards inherent with all Mercury propellers.


Mercury’s Enertia props have been engineered for optimum performance and fuel economy.

To maximize the fuel economy improvement provided by the Enertia ECO, Mercury Marine engineers designed a new propeller with a broad 16-inch diameter, large blade area and a high progressive rake, a combination made possible only through using Mercury’s proprietary X7 stainless steel alloy. This design and material combination results in a propeller that increases hull lift, ultimately making the boat more efficient by reducing overall drag.  While increasing fuel economy, the reduced drag has also proven to help lower planing speeds, increase top-end speed and improve holeshot performance.

“As marina gasoline prices have risen, customers have added fuel economy to their definition of performance,” said Jared Reichenberger, brand manager for Mercury Propellers. “Mercury Marine already produces fuel-efficient engines, as well as driver aids such as the ECO Screen display, it is time to release a high-performing propeller that also assists in increasing fuel economy.”

While boaters continue to demand the best acceleration and top speed, there is also a growing requirement for efficiency and fuel economy at cruising speeds where a vast majority of their operating time is spent.

At cruising speeds, the Enertia ECO posts a minimum of 10 percent fuel economy gain compared to Mercury’s already-efficient line of 135+ hp propellers. This gain translates to dollars as many boaters average nearly 100 hours on the water each year.  At today’s gas prices, this propeller alone will save that boater more than $550 per year, which translates to more than $5,500 over 10 years.

In addition to saving money, the Enertia ECO provides additional range from each tank of fuel. Whether they are pursuing fish farther from shore, or simply cruising longer between fill-ups, boaters can now significantly extend their range with a simple propeller change.

These savings are now available to consumers in right- and left-hand rotation across three pitches: 19, 21 and 23 inches. All feature a 16-inch diameter.

For more information, contact the company at

About Mercury Marine: Headquartered in Fond du Lac, Wis., Mercury Marine is the world’s leading manufacturer of recreational marine propulsion engines. A $2 billion division of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE: BC), Mercury provides engines, boats, services and parts for recreational, commercial and government marine applications, empowering boaters with products that are easy to use, extremely reliable and backed by the most dedicated customer support in the world. Mercury’s industry-leading brand portfolio includes Mercury and Mariner outboard engines; Mercury MerCruiser sterndrive and inboard packages; MotorGuide trolling motors; Mercury propellers; Mercury inflatable boats; Mercury SmartCraft electronics; Attwood marine parts; Land ‘N Sea marine parts distribution; and Mercury and Quicksilver parts and oils.

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 10, 2014 in Equipment


Tags: , , ,


                   GYRO LETS SHARK VIEWERS ENJOY                                EVERY EXCITING MINUTE

Yet another purpose for Seakeeper Gyros

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

With its breakthrough technology, Seakeeper Gyros has enabled many boaters to have a ‘even keel’ aboard their vessels. Here at the Boat & Yacht Report, we have been keeping tabs on this company’s efforts to make the boating experience just a bit better for those whose constitutions do not go well with the often rocking motion while at sea or underway. And now, for something a bit different.

Guests on Australia’s Calypso Star Charters cage diving expeditions can now focus their attention on encountering great white sharks, rather than on struggling to keep their footing. A Seakeeper M26000 gyro stabilizer refit on the 65′ Calypso Star II has improved guest safety and comfort onboard. While the vessel is underway or anchored, and during critical shark cage operation, the gyro creates a stable platform. This makes for happier customers and enables more operating days for Calypso Star Charters, adding to the business’ profitability.

skp21632-x3hSouth Australia’s Calypso Star Charters offers spectacular close-up views of great white sharks on its exclusive shark cage diving day tours out of Port Lincoln. A three-hour cruise leads to crystal clear waters near the Neptune Islands, where customers enjoy thrilling observation prospects underwater in a six-person cage and on the boat’s huge upper deck.

The Seakeeper refit on Calypso Star II, a custom Conquest fiberglass semi-displacement hull, was done with Seakeeper’s Australia/New Zealand dealer, Twin Disc (Pacific) Pty Ltd. It marks the largest Seakeeper installation in an Australian commercial vessel, and the first among shark cage diving vessels.

Seakeeper’s range of gyro stabilizers reduce resonant vessel roll without the use of drag-producing, damage-prone, through-hull appendages. The completely internal system uses proprietary technology to spin a flywheel within a vacuum environment for maximum righting torque. These actively controlled gyros reduce resonant roll whether a vessel is underway or at zero speed. Their compact size, light weight, small footprint, low power draw and quiet operation are equally suited for refits or new builds. Seakeeper’s worldwide engineering, installation and service network supports commercial vessel projects of virtually any size.

“A gyro is a huge asset aboard tourism-based vessels,” said Sean Hatherley, Seakeeper’s international commercial sales director. “Customers want to be safe and have fun, and not be seasick.” He anticipates the dramatic success of this recent refit to spark sales from operations offering scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, dolphin-watching or sightseeing tours.

The Seakeeper M26000 gyro, one of many the company produces for the marine market.

The Seakeeper M26000 gyro, one of many the company produces for the marine market.

In sea trials, the Seakeeper gyro achieved a roll reduction rate of over 50% while Calypso Star IIwas underway, and an even more impressive 87% at zero speed at the diving location. “With the gyro, we not only have a more comfortable journey to the islands, but also an exceptionally stable platform for shark diving. It gives guests a second-to-none experience,” said Andrew Wright, Calypso Star Charters general manager. With the company over 11 years, Wright has seen many clients for whom a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was spoiled by motion sickness.

“The Seakeeper gyro has made a remarkable difference, and our customer feedback has been highly enthusiastic,” said Wright. “Minimal vessel roll makes the day much more pleasurable for everyone. I wouldn’t build a new boat without a gyro.”

Wright was also impressed by the fact that the gyro eliminated down time, helping to maximize business potential. “Within the first three weeks after the installation, we experienced two days of poor weather. In the past, we might have been forced to cancel. But the Seakeeper gyro makes even the rough days workable,” he said.

“Over time this will make a big difference to our bottom line, especially considering that the gyro requires practically no operating costs. Water stays in the sink, drinks don’t fall over, the autopilot drives straighter and the vessel appears to yaw less on anchor. Most important, our guests love it, and it has no impact on the sharks,” Wright said.

Contact Seakeeper at and Calypso Star Charters at


Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Equipment


Tags: , , , , , , ,



Northern Lights Introduces EPA Tier 3 Compliant Genset

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

I am constantly on the lookout for companies and products that understand how important it is that our boating community has the proper equipment in terms of helping and protecting the very environment we hold so dear. With that said, Northern Lights introduces the new M944T3 EPA Tier 3 generator (40kW @ 1800 RPM).

The new genset brings full US EPA Tier 3 compliance at 1,400 fewer pounds and over 50% less overall volume than a similarly equipped model of the previous generation. Ideal for any application requiring 40 kilowatts of clean, customized power, the power density of the M944T3 will be especially attractive to vessels needing heavy-duty power in a compact package.

If you haven’t been up on all the regulations that have been passed and will be coming up in the near future, I found a few paragraphs on the topic at and will be doing  a more comprehensive study in a forthcoming GREEN DOCK posting on this site.

With Steve's remarkable graphics adorning the exterior of the Northern Light sound box, your high-tech engine room just got a bit more special.

With Steve’s remarkable graphics adorning the exterior of the Northern Light sound box, your high-tech engine room just got a bit more special.

As you can see, the sound enclosure on the M944T3 features a specially commissioned graphic from internationally renowned marine artist Steve Goione. Steve is an industry friend of mine, a very talented artist, and one who realizes how important it is to care about the environment.

Steve is not only a talented artist but care deeply about everything that goes on in, on, around, and under the water. To see more of his work, visit

Steve is not only a talented artist but cares deeply about everything that goes on in, on, around, and under the water. To see more of his work, visit

“The M944T3 represents the state of the art in power generation,” said Northern Lights Vice President of Sales and Marketing Colin Puckett. “Our engineering team has created a truly remarkable machine and we are thrilled to partner with Steve Goione to show how we can add both aesthetic and technical flair to a vessel,” he added.

Like all Northern Lights products, the M944T3 is based on world-class components – including industrial engine blocks and generators with auxiliary windings for clean power production. The turbo charged engine achieves high torque and smooth operation with direct fuel injection. This technology optimizes engine efficiency, resulting in low exhaust emissions and superior fuel economy. This new model can be completely customized with numerous options and accessories to perfectly power any suitable application.

For more information about the new M944T3 genset and other Northern Lights marine power generation solutions, visit the company Website at

ABOUT NORTHERN LIGHTS: Founded in 1958, Northern Lights is the leading manufacturer of the world’s finest marine power generation, propulsion, air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Northern Lights is the only manufacturer to offer fully customized and integrated systems of all these critical marine components. The company’s products are distributed through a global sales and service network of over 350 dealers in more than 40 countries.


Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Equipment


Tags: , , , , , , ,


MercurySleight of Hand

A look at what Mercury Marine has come up with for effortless control over outboard engine boats.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

The ability to safely maneuver your outboard powered boat around the dock just go a lot easier with Mercury's fingertip control system.

The ability to safely maneuver your outboard powered boat around the dock just got a lot easier with Mercury’s fingertip control system.

“Think of it this way: It’s as if you could take your palm, place it on top of your boat and be able to move it in any direction you want,” said Chris Chapman, Mercury Marine’s Application Development Engineer and joystick whiz for the company’s new outboard engine control system.

By now, since the introduction of the various joystick control systems over the years, we’ve become quite used to, and somewhat comfortable, with the concept. A twist here. A push there. Dial it around. A short learning curve for newbies and a definite game changer in significantly lowering the pucker factor while in close quarters docking situations or maneuvering. But to have this technology available for use with a pair of outboard engines? Still dubious? Try triple and quad applications as well.

Yes, joystick control has come to outboard engines and when the opportunity to test

A triple rigged center console proved a short, easy learning curve with the system.

A triple rigged center console proved a short, easy learning curve with the system.

Mercury Marine’s revolutionary system came up aboard a 39-foot Sea Vee center console equipped with triple 300-hp, four stroke Verado engines came my way, I jumped in with, well, both feet and one hand.

“Our system takes the joystick technology and passes it through the propulsion system,” Chapman said as he and I sat at the helm of the Sea Vee test boat. “We have dual and triple applications right now with quads and multiple stations coming by year’s end.”

With a smaller Boston Whaler 320 Outrage quietly hovering right outside the dock next to ours, the pair of 300-hp Verado’s going through their paces while on another demo ride, Chapman led me through the technology and practical applications of the system.

A key component to the system is this steering ram.

A key component to the system is this steering ram.

Taking its cues from the advanced and proven systems already in use for larger, diesel powered, pod, and stern driven boats, Mercury has been able to not only make inroads but come up with far-reaching designs in this technology as well. In short, the company has taken the ease of those systems, and especially with the simplicity of docking, and given them to outboard engines.

Vesselview presents a clear and easy to read screen covering all engine parameters.

Vesselview presents a clear and easy to read screen covering all engine parameters.

Once the domain of hard-core, offshore fishermen, in recent years the ccenter console design has become more popular with families. With Mercury’s joystick system you can, with proper instruction and practice, have multiple captains aboard, such as your wife and kids, who, with a much shorter learning curve than that with traditional controls dealing with wind and current, are not only capable of getting the boat back to the dock, but will be confident and comfortable with the skill set as well. “And our engineers have fine tuned and calibrated the fully integrated system—everything is manufactured by us in one location, from the engines, to the wiring harnesses and rigging, to the controls and autopilot—to a point where we can match the technology to the specific application necessary as pertains to the weight of a certain model of boat where the amount of thrust may not be needed,” Chapman said. In other words, heavy boats more and lighter boats less.

In developing its outboard joystick controls, Mercury took its cues from both its own internal pulse and that of the consumer. Noting the uptick rate in its successful Axius System, the engineers set their sights on moving the technology across all of the company’s product lines.

The system is so finely tuned that full control over a quad set up takes little effort.

The system is so finely tuned that full control over a quad set up takes little effort.

The sophisticated system has three control modules per engine; an engine control module that manages all of the core engine functions; a thrust vector module, responsible for all the steering functions; and lastly, a helm command and control module. When in operation, the system takes all its commands from the helm and transfers them for seamless and instantaneous response, telling the engine where it needs to steer and where it needs to be throttling and shifting.

The complete system.

The complete system.

Engaging the joystick control, you can completely and proportionally adjust to any point in between; if you want to go to starboard, merely press slightly in that direction and that engine will shift in reverse with the port going in forward as both splay out. In that way, the direction of the thrust will be directed under the center of gravity beneath the boat. If you need to add a little forward movement, merely push the joystick in that direction. The same goes for reverse, as there is no need at any time to come back to center. It’s that easy to continue adding those partial movements to keep things very fluid and maintain control over the boat’s momentum so as not to have to regain any motion as the boat moves into the dock.

With the triple engine application, as on my test boat, the center engine will follow

The system works with any Mercury power.

The system works with any Mercury power.

whichever engine is in reverse. So for a starboard movement, for example, where the starboard outside engine is in reverse, the center one will swing over and maintain the same angle and assist in reverse. And regardless of dual or triple engines, should the wind get your bow and momentarily put the boat out of shape, a mere twist of the control in the opposite direction will get things back on an even keel very quickly.

That hand-on-the-top-of-your-boat analogy of Chapman’s rings true when trying it out for the first time. The initial reaction is how immediate the response is to the command and how, when you first get your hand on the joystick, there is a tendency to twist too much and push too far. Looking aft and seeing those three, 300-hp Verado engines hanging off the transom can be a bit intimidating. But very quickly, and with a bit of practice, the ‘feel’ for things settles in and quite soon after that, your confidence and proficiency with the system will astound you.

As we discussed the experience, Chapman backed up my reaction. “This is a real, intuitive way to move around the dock. With traditional ‘stick’ operation, there is usually a lot of movement to jockey into the correct position. With this system, all that is eliminated. For a non-boater, someone unfamiliar with bringing a boat back-in to a dock, we can usually have them comfortable after and hour or so of instruction and practice.”

The system also includes an auto trim feature. When coming down off plane from running, you usually tuck the drives back down to minimize the bow rise. What the joystick does is, as soon as it is touched, is take that fully tucked trim position and trims the engines back out to a factory preset point so that they are mostly level with the bottom of the boat.

Engaging Skyhook enables you to hold your boat in position regardless of wind or current.

Engaging Skyhook enables you to hold your boat in position regardless of wind or current.

Furthering the joystick experience, there are several high-tech options available including a fully integrated Mercury autopilot with waypoint sequencing so you can easily chart your course. Other premium features include a control pad for activating any of the joystick features and Skyhook®, Mercury’s patented ‘hovering’ system. Activating it will keep your boat in place against wind and current or while waiting for a spot to open at the fuel dock. It can also be used to get yourself together while shaping up for docking manuevers and is a real advantage to offshore fishermen as well with no need to try and anchor in deep water or move off a wreck site where the bite is on. Vesselview allows accessing and monitoring of all your boat’s systems as well as being able to set the cruise control. And finally there is Auto Heading, which links its electronic compass onto the boat’s heading, keeping it on course with a one degree adjustments available from the joystick and 10 degree tuning from the control panel.

One bit of redundancy that is built into the system covers a rather familiar scenario and one that none of us want to deal with while away from the dock. Given the amount of electronics we have become used to using all the time—chartplotter, radar, sounder, radio, entertainment center, baitwell pump, lights and lots of other electric gear—a situation might arise where there is a depletion of your cranking batteries’ power. If the Mercury system identifies this is happening, it will automatically raise the idle rate of the engines and bring the charge current up. Other features include one power steering pump and one steering cylinder per engine just in case there is a problem with any other engine. There is also a guardian mode that will kick in so as not allow the engine to operate outside of accepted parameters. And there are anti-collision cables between all multiple engine applications.

Mercury Marine’s R&D was as focused and determined with this technology as it has been in the past when bringing other new advances forward. “We’ve had multiple validation cycles and tests, punishing the product way before bringing it to the consumer level,” Chapman said. With everything I’ve seen and experienced, the company has done its homework. The result is a user-friendly system that brings a new level of comfort to the outboard sector and one that just might get those on the fence about handling a boat down off it and onto the deck and at the helm. Mercury Marine. (920) 929-5892. 

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 11, 2013 in Equipment


Tags: , ,




Once found only aboard big ships and megayachts, gyro stabilizers are now being fitted on boats under 40’.

By Ken Kreisler

ocean-2012062_1280Sea sickness. To the French, it’s known as le mal de mer; to the Spanish, la enfermedad del mar; even bahari ugonjwa, as uttered by our nautical brethren in Swahili, are some of the most dreaded words that mariners understand regardless of the language. It can bring most sufferers to their knees in humbling supplication to both the captain on the bridge and the heavens above to please, please, get them back to dry and not-moving and solid terra firma post-haste, if not sooner with the absolute and irrevocable promise of never, ever doing this again.

Besides possibly getting a good whiff of early morning diesel or gasoline exhaust combined with the previous night’s imbibing of copious and varying amounts of dissimilar adult beverages and just having to go for that last serving of lasagna, the often multi-directional pitch, roll, and yaw of a vessel underway, even in relatively calm conditions, can bring on the debilitating symptoms and resultant end product of the dreaded malady.

sea-band-us-adultProductsWhile the physiological causes of sea sickness are complex, involving the sensitive organs of the inner ear and our brains which can be dealt with somewhat by using an assortment of pills, remedies, and homeopathic and placebo-based therapies, getting your boat to stop, or at least significantly diminish, it’s up and down and side to side movement, which often occurs at the same time, is the key to a sure-fire cure.

gyro-861100_1280Enter the idea of the gyroscope. Breaking it down to its most simplistic explanation, thus avoiding having to try to clarify what anyone except those capable of understanding such advanced concepts of physics as inertial moments, precession, and angular momentum, a gyroscope, once set into motion will stabilize any force that is trying to prevent it from remaining upright.

Take that one step further to a specialized device designed specifically for applications aboard a boat that when installed somewhere below decks inside your vessel, will result in a stabilization of motion without the need for drag-inducing, damage-prone external fins. As long as the gyro is kept spinning, the yawing and pitching; the up and down and back and forth and…well, you get the idea, will be significantly diminished.

While gyro stabilization has been around for quite a while, due to the large power consumption necessary to run them, and the weight and size of the units, they were limited to use aboard only large ships. But by applying the latest in technology, especially being able to spin the flywheel at high speeds in a near vacuum—higher spin speeds require a smaller flywheel which results in a more compact and energy-efficient piece of equipment—thus all but eliminating bearing and air friction, as well as supplying protection from the marine environment, the system is now available to a wider range of vessels.

“We are leveling the horizon for a larger range of boats now, and will continue to design and innovate. Our MX Series is an evolution in advance of the gyro revolution,” so says John Kermet, VP of sales and marketing for Seakeeper, the Maryland-based company, founded in 2002, that is in the forefront of the technology.

The SeeVee 430 easily accommodates the Seakeeper MX Series.

The SeeVee easily accommodates the Seakeeper MX Series.

The MX Series Kermet refers to is designed for boats from 11m-13m/36’-42’ and has already been successfully installed aboard a 39’ Intrepid, a tender for the Abeking & Rasmussen-built Silver Cloud, a 40.8m/134’ megayacht. Seakeeper teamed up with Ocean5 Naval Architects and Intrepid to bring this design to practical use. The unit installed is the Seakeeper M8000. Among the other notable builders utilizing the other Seakeeper Gyro Stabilization Systems are Azimut, Fairline, Hatteras, Viking, Sabre, Tiara, Lazzara, and a long list of others.

hatteras-seakeeperSeakeeper units are of course readily available to new builds but are also, and in most cases, capable of being retro-fitted to existing boats. Take, for example, the job done on Finders Keepers, a 59’ 1979 Hatteras while the boat was being remodeled. The problem was finding a suitable space for the equipment. While the owners first balked at the thought—the typical unweighted 70-75dB(A) sound, as ascertained in the Seakeeper lab as well as with no wave load on its 43-foot Viking test boat—they found the sound barely noticeable, especially above that of the air conditioning. “Installing gyros under the master stateroom is unusual, but proves our flexible mounting options,” said Kermet. “To bring stability and more safety to a 33-year old classic yacht is rewarding.”

Indeed, the unit or units do not have to be installed on the vessel’s centerline to be effective. However, the space does need to have the proper structure and mounting capabilities to successfully transmit the gyros righting technique to the hull. Other considerations include having to run the unit off a genset while running or at anchor or, if necessary, on shore power while in the dock.

A Seakeeper M8000 gyro is just one of many models available for a wide range of applications.

A Seakeeper M8000 gyro is just one of many models available for a wide range of applications.

If you are thinking of installing this kind of equipment aboard your new build or adding it to your present vessel, Seakeeper has all the information and infrastructure at your disposal to assist with pricing, model need, positioning, and after care. And while you can watch the dramatic videos on its site, if you really want to experience what this kind of equipment can actually do, schedule an on-board sea trial. Keeping things on an even keel aboard your boat will definitely take on a new meaning.

1 Comment

Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Equipment