I wasn’t sure what to expect when I traveled to Alabama this week to see Yamaha’s 2013 product preview with a group of fellow boating and fishing writers. We all had heard Yamaha would debut a joystick control system for its outboards. But the company went well beyond that accomplishment with its new Helm Master system.
Helm Master offers:
Helm Master will be available in March through approved boat manufacturers as a new-power option only, with F350 and 4.2-liter V6 Yamaha Offshore engines. Yamaha won’t quote pricing because that will be up to the builders and dealers, who design the retail packages.
On the water, the joystick was predictably fun to operate. Engage the stick to one side and the vessel moves laterally. At the same time, twist the stick slightly, and the bow points that direction while moving laterally.
Yamaha suggests operators learn to keep the joystick engaged at all times while maneuvering, and make minor adjustments. That keeps the engines in gear rather than bumping them in and out.
I tried the joystick on a Regulator 34 with twin F350s and rode aboard a similarly equipped Everglades 355T with triples. The triple configuration naturally seems more responsive because the center engine adds extra power and blade area.
Check out the video below to see some of the maneuvering we did.