DAME award winner VOLVO PENTA assisted docking

Sugar Kane

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After a summer of bobbing about and pirouetting and docking like an utter legend, on a joystick controlled sailing yacht I have more than a passing interest in the new Volvo Penta assisted docking system.

Last year I was helping to load a Riva 76 to ship in Southampton with woefully inadequate docking capabilities, underpowered bow thruster and no stern thruster. It was one of those bum clenching just got away with it situations. What we would have given for one of these systems.

Has anyone else been converted from a traditionalist "you can't beat pure skills" to "why not get it right every time and take some of the guess work out of it" school of thought?
Anyone who has captained a vessel with high windage or low steerage in awkward cross tide moorings, I'd like to hear your thoughts.
 

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Greg2

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To my mind I would always want to have the skill to manoeuvre a boat using the basics i.e. just the props, if only because other stuff can go wrong. I have, though, become a bit of a convert to using whatever help you have if you need it.

For years we had boats that didn’t have anything else and when we first bought a boat with a bowthruster it was initially a daft pride thing not to use it unless it was unavoidable. I moved on from that view when we fitted a stern thruster - not because we particularly needed one but because we were offered it for a low price. I quickly realised that whilst it wasn’t necessary most of the time it could be very handy in a tight spot.

Having said that I will happily use whatever is fitted, we have never had a joystick type system, and I probably wouldn’t spend money on one but I know how good they can be. I have helmed a Sealine F42 with IPS, which incorporates such a system and 10m cabin RIB with Hamilton jets and their blueARROW system. Both were excellent and made easy work of tight situations but with waterjets I think the system is unnecessary because you can quickly become confident in achieving any manouvre you want using the throttles and bucket controls.
 

henryf

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For a joystick system to work it would need suitably powerful bow and stern thrusters and possibly variable thrust units. Assuming they are fitted you shouldn’t need a joystick assuming conventional shaft propulsion In my humble opinion. Your woes came more from the fact that Riva had built a 76 foot boat and under specced the hardware. I bet you thought how good looking it was though as you filled your trousers…….
 

MartynG

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I do use the bow thruster on most occasions , particularly when reversing into my home berth. Also the bow thruster saves the chief officer stretching to reach things such as sliders in locks since I am able to nudge the thruster to make fine adjustments to the position of the boat.
I did miss the bow thruster when it packed up (the prop was broken) but managed okay until the boat was next lifted for routine service.
I have no ambitions to fit a stern thruster as twin engines on outdrives provide that facility.
As for joystick controls its a matter of not missing something I ever had.
 

Elessar

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After a summer of bobbing about and pirouetting and docking like an utter legend, on a joystick controlled sailing yacht I have more than a passing interest in the new Volvo Penta assisted docking system.

Last year I was helping to load a Riva 76 to ship in Southampton with woefully inadequate docking capabilities, underpowered bow thruster and no stern thruster. It was one of those bum clenching just got away with it situations. What we would have given for one of these systems.

Has anyone else been converted from a traditionalist "you can't beat pure skills" to "why not get it right every time and take some of the guess work out of it" school of thought?
Anyone who has captained a vessel with high windage or low steerage in awkward cross tide moorings, I'd like to hear your thoughts.
If you can’t dock a riva 76 on shafts then the “woefully inadequate docking capabilities” were stood at the wheel. ……..
 

pumpsmynads

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I don’t get the hate against these systems. No one is saying don’t be able to dock without them. They’re to assist.
It would be like turning off your car’s parking sensors and camera so you’re seen to be a better driver.
 

MartynG

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I don’t get the hate against these systems. No one is saying don’t be able to dock without them. They’re to assist.
It would be like turning off your car’s parking sensors and camera so you’re seen to be a better driver.
Who said anything about hate ?
 

Portofino

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Riva s are MAN engines anyhow .I do not think FerrettI group do VP .

Properly sized hard ware + a bit of skill and experience is all most ever need .

I would be more concerned over
1- extra electrotwackery to go wrong .
2-Extra wear + tear in the machinery side of things = bills looming up .

Having said that if this docking system brings new members to the club so be it in a “even a woman can park it “ :D kinda way a good thing .
Thats what lingers in the back of my mind when a guy pipes up his boats got a bells + whistles electrotwackery parking joystick.
Anyhow inclusivity is the buzz word banded about theses days .So I say nothing to there faces .
 

Elessar

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I don’t get the hate against these systems. No one is saying don’t be able to dock without them. They’re to assist.
It would be like turning off your car’s parking sensors and camera so you’re seen to be a better driver.
One assists, one takes control. Different.
 

Elessar

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IPS is entirely dependent on user input so it doesn’t take control.
If you drive IPS with the wheel and throttles you are quite right.

If you drive it with the joystick you are quite wrong.
You have simply no idea which way the legs are pointing, the level of throttle applied to each engine or even if the leg is in forward or reverse.
It is in control.
 

Switch

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If you drive IPS with the wheel and throttles you are quite right.

If you drive it with the joystick you are quite wrong.
You have simply no idea which way the legs are pointing, the level of throttle applied to each engine or even if the leg is in forward or reverse.
It is in control.
You’re missing the point. With IPS you’re in control of the boat, just because you might know which engine is in reverse or forward doesn’t mean anything. The system responds to the helmsman input. Would you say a pilot isn’t in control of an aircraft fitted with a fly by wire joystick? Same principle.
 

SC35

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If you can’t dock a riva 76 on shafts then the “woefully inadequate docking capabilities” were stood at the wheel. ……..
Not if the bow thruster is woefully undersized for the boat.

Engines will turn the boat around an axis towards the rear of the boat in almost anything.
If you need that axis of rotation to be somewhere else in a tight situation for example and your bow thruster is not up to it, it all gets very stressful very quickly.
 

Elessar

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You’re missing the point. With IPS you’re in control of the boat, just because you might know which engine is in reverse or forward doesn’t mean anything. The system responds to the helmsman input. Would you say a pilot isn’t in control of an aircraft fitted with a fly by wire joystick? Same principle.
Nope.
Wheel and throttles on IPS are fly by wire. You are in control.
Like an airliner much of the time. Until the plane knows better. Like the 737 max.
Not true of a fighter which is unstable and a human can’t fly.
Generally speaking though the training and reliably is higher on a plane.

Ive a friend with an IPS boat. I rather like it. He’s new to boating and relies on the joystick.
Twice, once in strong wind and once in a strong cross tide he’s asked me to dock the boat. Because I don’t use the joystick so have more control in extremis.

Reach the limit of what the joystick can do and you are stuck. And because you have zero clue what it’s doing you have zero clue if you are reaching the limit.

in easy conditions they are fine.
 

SC35

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>>Reach the limit of what the joystick can do and you are stuck. And because you have zero clue what it’s doing you have zero clue if you are reaching the limit.

Hmm, interesting. I get the thing about not knowing what the system is doing.
But what it is that you can do in manual mode that the joystick can't do?
Does the joystick only have limited authority over the engines?

<< I have never helmed a joystick boat, only outdrives with a bow thruster >>
 

Elessar

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>>Reach the limit of what the joystick can do and you are stuck. And because you have zero clue what it’s doing you have zero clue if you are reaching the limit.

Hmm, interesting. I get the thing about not knowing what the system is doing.
But what it is that you can do in manual mode that the joystick can't do?
Does the joystick only have limited authority over the engines?

<< I have never helmed a joystick boat, only outdrives with a bow thruster >>
There are 2 modes. The latter allows the engines to rev more aggressively. It’s a simple button press to get the extra revs if you need them.
But ultimately the engines are about a metre and a half apart and the centre of effort of the wind is, say 7 metres forward of the props.
The wind is going to win due to simple leverage.
Dock manually and you feel the wind and tide, and use it to come in at the correct angle or whatever. You have no feel when using the joystick.
Just listen to an IPS boat docking with the joystick in a moderate breeze and it’s lots of noise and revs.
Do it the old fashioned way and you rarely go above tickover .
 

Switch

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There are 2 modes. The latter allows the engines to rev more aggressively. It’s a simple button press to get the extra revs if you need them.
But ultimately the engines are about a metre and a half apart and the centre of effort of the wind is, say 7 metres forward of the props.
The wind is going to win due to simple leverage.
Dock manually and you feel the wind and tide, and use it to come in at the correct angle or whatever. You have no feel when using the joystick.
Just listen to an IPS boat docking with the joystick in a moderate breeze and it’s lots of noise and revs.
Do it the old fashioned way and you rarely go above tickover .
Nope.
Wheel and throttles on IPS are fly by wire. You are in control.
Like an airliner much of the time. Until the plane knows better. Like the 737 max.
Not true of a fighter which is unstable and a human can’t fly.
Generally speaking though the training and reliably is higher on a plane.



Ive a friend with an IPS boat. I rather like it. He’s new to boating and relies on the joystick.
Twice, once in strong wind and once in a strong cross tide he’s asked me to dock the boat. Because I don’t use the joystick so have more control in extremis.

Reach the limit of what the joystick can do and you are stuck. And because you have zero clue what it’s doing you have zero clue if you are reaching the limit.

in easy conditions they are fine.
There are two modes on IPS, low power and high power. In four years of IPS ownership I have NEVER had to use the high power setting. There is a skill to using IPS that comes with experience. Anybody can use IPS, that's part of its attraction, but if you yank around on the joystick like your playing a video game you're going to create lots of noise and revs. Gentle deliberate inputs are all that is required - I suggest your friend gets some professional tuition with a skipper who is familiar with IPS. With the best will in the world I don't think you're doing your friend any favours by taking over the docking (albeit well intentioned) as you are making him doubt the capabilities of the system that you aren't so familiar with either. IPS can cope with most conditions if used properly. You're also able to feel wind and tide in IPS mode - it's a really good piece of kit but it does require practice to get the most out of it (like anything).
I remember one very windy day berthing in Bembridge a couple of months ago. It was carnage with boats of all types struggling to get into berths - the sound of screaming bow thruster's and engines just audible of the noise of the wind. I took two attempts to get into my berth but when in, my neighbour congratulated me not having to use my bow thruster in those conditions. He didn't know I was using IPS (I did own up) :)
 

Switch

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>>Reach the limit of what the joystick can do and you are stuck. And because you have zero clue what it’s doing you have zero clue if you are reaching the limit.

Hmm, interesting. I get the thing about not knowing what the system is doing.
But what it is that you can do in manual mode that the joystick can't do?
Does the joystick only have limited authority over the engines?

<< I have never helmed a joystick boat, only outdrives with a bow thruster >>
My last two boats were on outdrives (10 years) and now I have an IPS boat (4 years) so I speak from experience when comparing the two. The very first thing I noticed driving my IPS boat was that at low speed the steering felt well planted - the boat didn't wander or require lots of steering input. This is because the pods are under the boat rather than hanging off the back. The second was you can manoeuvre an IPS boat exactly the same way as an outdrive boat using steering and throttles or like a shaft drive no steering just throttles. As I have experience with outdrives I tend to use this technique most of the time and only use the joystick when I would have normally used a bow thruster. However, when conditions are bad IPS is a great back up if you're being blown off or pinned down on a pontoon by a force 6 and/or strong tide when most bow/stern thrusters would be overwhelmed. Moving the boat sideways into a strong breeze/tide is almost effortless.
 

Elessar

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This isn’t an anti IPS thing I agree IPS boats are really nice. They make a big boat feel sporty.

And yep if you are skilled on out drives an IPS boat is instinctive they feel very similar.

You will have that feel I’m talking about and get the best out of the joystick by using it for finesse, rather like you’d use a bow thruster. You won’t use it to fight the elements and expect it to do the impossible.

A nice to have in the hands of the skilled. But it shouldn’t be essential.

Just remember that the thread started because someone struggled without such an aid.

Without the skills, even the aid won’t help you if the conditions are bad.

The two times I did it for him I wasn’t talking about nice days. And I am his instructor……..
 

Switch

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This isn’t an anti IPS thing I agree IPS boats are really nice. They make a big boat feel sporty.

And yep if you are skilled on out drives an IPS boat is instinctive they feel very similar.

You will have that feel I’m talking about and get the best out of the joystick by using it for finesse, rather like you’d use a bow thruster. You won’t use it to fight the elements and expect it to do the impossible.

A nice to have in the hands of the skilled. But it shouldn’t be essential.

Just remember that the thread started because someone struggled without such an aid.

Without the skills, even the aid won’t help you if the conditions are bad.

The two times I did it for him I wasn’t talking about nice days. And I am his instructor……..
Agreed, best to get as much training/experience as possible with out using aids.
 
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