The lighted rings also show in which direction the thrust is being directed. We questioned this feature as frivolous at first, but during our tests, we did find ourselves glancing down at the LED light ring to verify we were moving the stick correctly. Mostly because of the progressive thrust.
When the stick is moved a little, there’s a little thrust. When it’s a lot, there’s a lot of thrust. This characteristic is important for safety reasons. When making small moves, the boat doesn’t just lurch ahead. Remember the old boater’s adage about never approaching the dock faster than you want to hit it.
So when we just nudge the stick, the boat isn’t leaping into action. It’s a gentle maneuver that may not seem readily apparent. That’s why even if the boat does not seem to be moving, the light ring will indicate which way the boat should be moving. Then we can either let it do its thing or add more stick for more reaction. This is a useful feature and one we have not seen on conventional joysticks. And after some use in the field, we are believers that it’s a nice feature to have.
When moving the stick forward the engines engage to drive the boat forward. Move the stick back and the engines kick into reverse. Move the stick sideways and the boat goes that direction, too. Rotate the stick and the boat pivots on its axis.
When we moved the joystick to the side, the engines split and gave separate steering inputs to each of the engines. The thrust was also separated, and this combined action is what is giving us sideways movement. Naturally, this also works on the diagonal.
When we rotated the joystick the boat rotated in the same direction. In our test boat, the point of rotation seemed to be just ahead of the center console and the helm. The engines appeared to be making a circular pattern while the boat rotated around a point – it was definitely not the boat rotating around the engines themselves. That’s how well dialed-in the JPO system is.
Whatever direction in which we move the joystick, the boat moved in the corresponding direction. In this manner we could dock with exacting precision. Even if the wind and current were acting on the boat to push the bow or stern away, we could counter that and correct by rotating the stick while moving sideways.
With the JPO the engines turn whichever direction is required and the thrust is automatically directed forward or reverse as needed to obey the joystick’s command.
Now everyone can look like a pro, regardless of how challenging the prevailing conditions are.
The trend in boating these days is to add outboard power on center console boats, sportboats, and even on relatively large cruisers. For example, Formula has recently introduced a quad-powered 43’ (13 m) crossover bowrider/express cruiser. Intrepid has built a 47’ (14 m) sport cruiser with quads for years. Sea Ray has a new SLX 350 bowrider with multi-engines.
Multi-engine outboards are not easy for anyone to handle, but the JPO changes all of that.