Since then I’ve had plenty of time to gauge the unit’s real-world performance, and the feature that continues to impress me most is the innovative No-Drift mode, a setting that uses plotter input to lock onto a particular course regardless of wind and/or current. Great for running channels with a major-league set!
I’ve found that Nav mode is impressive as well, although it’s not a unique feature. It eases Betty through multiple-leg routes programmed into my Garmin with steadfast safety. Indeed, if an upcoming course change exceeds a pre-set angular limit, an audible alarm sounds and a window on the plotter display opens, asking for soft-key input to okay transition to the next leg. And there are other helpful features like a fisherman-friendly bottom-contour steering (with depthsounder input, of course) and pattern steering options that are particularly valuable to fishermen and search-and-rescue types.
The final word? I think the fact that I’m planning to buy a second AP28 control head for Betty’s climate-controlled lower station pretty much says it all. The only hitch in this plan is the cost of approximately $800, a somewhat hefty sum given what I’ve already invested. On the other hand, though, it still seems like a small price to pay for hours of hands-free arrow-straight steering, a raft of nifty navigational features, and enough computer savvy to make onerous sea trialing darn near a thing of the past.
This article originally appeared in the May 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.