Stick the Landing
Evinrude’s new IDock joystick control makes dockside maneuvering more intuitive.
Docking a boat can be a challenge when you consider the variables waiting to bulk up the pressure. The wind, the current, and a dockmaster waving you in between other boats can be unsettling to say the least. A curious crowd congregating to watch the show and silently (or not so silently) judge your performance can make you feel as if you don’t have time to wipe the sweat off your brow. Experience counts, sure, but how do you get that experience unless you leave the dock and endure such trial by fire?
Fortunately, the game just became a whole lot easier with the introduction of Evinrude’s new IDock joystick control. The outboard manufacturer is now offering the system on its new E-TEC G2 series of motors rated from 150 to 300 horsepower and designed to power the growing fleet of midsize center consoles and cruisers.
Joystick controls are not new, and IDock employs a collection of proven technologies to make waterfront arrivals and departures as easy as turning a knob at the helm. Instead of having a multitude of thoughts circling your brain about forward, reverse, neutral, wheel position, and where these items fit into the scheme of things, the joystick control lets you concentrate on where you want to go and does all the heavy lifting at the behest of a light touch. IDock is especially cool because it was conceived by the people who designed the engine and are intimate with its workings, so they have taken full advantage of what the outboards can do to make the joystick a seamless addition. These E-TEC engines, for example, have an internal hydraulic system for the power-assisted steering, in lieu of the more familiar and cumbersome hoses and cylinders used on larger outboard motors. Furthermore, the steering pump is mounted within the engine, so it’s protected, unlike on other systems. Evinrude’s proprietary engineering tapped into the hydraulics to provide the joystick with not only the controls for steering but also for the throttle and shifts to regulate the complete engine. The result is a tidy installation and a remarkably clean transom area (great news for fishermen), and no exposed parts requiring care or maintenance.
The IDock joystick operation is intuitive and easy to learn. When you’re ready to engage the system, you press a button and the steering wheel locks and throttle and shifting are regulated by the joystick. An aircraft-grade sensor helps the system hold the bow in position and you simply push the joystick in the direction you want the boat to go or to pivot. The response is quick and the engines do all the work. Response utilizes two systems for maneuvering, with the second phase featuring about twice the standard thrust to overcome strong current or wind.
I sea trialed the system recently at an Evinrude event in Florida, operating a Scout 255LXF with twin engines, and the IDock feature impressed me with its ability to manage wind and concrete pilings—a typical docking scenario. Experienced boaters will like it, but new boaters are going to love it.
Evinrude is an outlier in the outboard industry with its two-stroke line-up, promoting innovative design and engineering with E-TEC engines that deliver efficiency, torque, clean operation, and ease of maintenance. When offered in a package with E-TEC G2s, IDock retails for $6,000—including the joystick, control module, and hydraulic lines. The system is covered under Evinrude’s warranty program of five years or 500 hours of no scheduled dealer maintenance, as well as a five-year dealer warranty and non-declining five-year corrosion warranty.
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.