Traditionally the most challenging part of owning a new powerboat has been docking. Lots of sweated brows, barked orders and spouses who swear they will never go out boating again. At the very least it’s a tense time for skipper and crew, particularly if there is a serious breeze.
Even the most experienced boat-owners can sometimes feel uncomfortable about the prospect of docking a large boat in a congested harbour, especially if the dockside restaurant is filled with friends and acquaintances.
Now a giant step sideways with the Mercruiser Axius system that will change the boating experience forever.
Suddenly it is easier to park a 35 foot boat than it is to park a car. I found that spinning the boat slowly, moving it sideways at half a knot was just a two finger control on the joystick.
Dusty McCoy, the CEO of Brunswick, the company whose Mercruiser division delivered Axius, believes that 'the Axius system is the biggest boating breakthough of recent decades'. 'It will be a big one' he smiled last week as we watched a young lady who had never steered anything more than a tinny, park a 38 foot Maxum in Cockle Bay in a 10 knot cross breeze after five minutes tuition.
Axius is a stern drive package that uses twin stern drive engines to move independently of each other. Axius-powered boats are able to move sideways, at an angle or even turn in a circle – all with a simple twist of the joystick.
The joystick provides virtually infinite proportional control over thrust from idle to speeds up to seven knots. This means that a small movement of the joystick equals a small increase in thrust.
Unlike computer game joysticks, the Axius joystick is large enough to be a comfortable ergonomic fit for help with fine, precise docking movements.
McCoy says 'The new joystick technology will change the way people go boating.
'Axuis is likely to become standard for 28-40 foot Stern drives boats. This will remove a major barrier to families moving up to bigger boats. Much more of a fun activity; we will see groups of women taking cruising boats out as they have never done before.'
With Axius on Brunswicks and on Searay, expect to see more boat manufacturers offering packages as the ease of joystick docking increases market-share.
Here is the Mercruiser Axius video from Southhampton