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Better Boat: Joystick Option

Another advantage of Pursuit’s synergy with Yamaha is its ability to offer an optional, Yamaha-marketed, digital-type engine-control system for the SC 365i. Called Helm Master (, the system is basically comprised of a sophisticated binnacle control, electronic steering, an LCD gauge with more tricks than a bunch of monkeys can do with a 50-foot heaving line, and, even more interesting perhaps, a joystick. As luck would have it, I recently had a chance to check out the system on an SC 365i.

Helm Master -joystick option

My take? For starters, the LCD’s features were both innovative and useful (you could sync engine-trim angles to rpm settings, for example, thus optimizing engine trim throughout the rpm range automatically … cool!) and the steering was both smooth and responsive.

But joystick maneuvering in a close-quarters situation—well, it simply did not have the oomph I’m used to with dedicated pod-type propulsion packages, most likely because our two outboards (and their two propellers) were so far abaft the boat’s pivot point, at least by comparison with less leverage-challenged pods. Indeed, even in the joystick’s high-power mode, I found that walking the boat into a fairly stiff wind was an uphill slog, despite the power the boat’s two big Yammy 350s were pouring into the water. 

Did Helm Master move the boat sideways against the wind? Yes indeed. But did it do so with the authority of joystick-enabled pod propulsion? I’m afraid not. The system’s a seemingly useful option, however, especially when teamed with a bow thruster for times when lots of wind and/or current prevail. It adds approximately $19,650 to the price of the SC 365i.

Back to the boat test of the Pursuit SC 365i ➤

This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.