Evinrude has come out with a new joystick system for boats powered by G2 outboards, called the iDock. We had a chance to put the system through its paces, on a Scout center console and a 30-foot twin engine pontoon boat. And lucky for us, it was a rainy, blustery day – so docking those boats was no easy chore.
The first thing we noticed: unlike many outboard joystick systems, which commonly don’t seem to work as well as those designed for inboards or pod drives, the Evinrude iDock does swing a bow into the wind or overcome the current more easily. The reason is the inclusion of a gyro-sensor in the system. When you twist the joystick to port to get the boat spinning, for example, the system knows all on its own if it’s working or not. Let’s say that you need to slide the boat sideways at a 90-degree angle to put it up against a beam-to mooring. You get halfway there, when a huge gust of wind tries to shove the bow to starboard. The gyro-sensor recognizes the shift in direction, and the onboard computer then fights it without any additional input at the helm, and keeps the boat moving sideways at 90 degrees.
Beyond this, iDock feels like any other outboard joystick system. Like some others it did seem to have a slight delay between when you hit the stick and the boat reacts, although the Evinrude reps on-site pointed out that we were using a prototype and they were working to improve this fraction-of-a-second delay. But there is one other big difference between this system and similar ones: cost. The price for adding iDock to your G2 powerplants is $5,999. Other systems go for at least twice this amount, but Evinrude can keep cost down because the steering system on the G2, the digital controls, and the computer “brains” are already integrated into the G2 package.
We’d note that some rather salty mariners feel that joysticks are “cheating,” and in the long run, are unnecessary. But Evinrude was sure to point out that for new boaters entering the market, docking is just about the most stressful part of the day. And they have a point – why make life harder, when you can make it easier instead? And for many people today, nothing’s easier than using a joystick.
All in all, iDock is pretty slick. If you’re looking at a new boat powered by G2 outboards, it’s an option worth considering. Check out Evinrude, to learn more.