Pontoons are versatile boats for watersports, fishing, entertaining and cruising, but can be tricky to maneuver in tight spaces, especially when equipped with a single outboard engine. Joystick piloting makes turning, docking and maneuvering at slow speeds easy, but it’s a function that’s been reserved for multiple-engine boats until now.
Later this year, Harris will launch Mercury Marine’s Joystick Piloting for Outboards (JPO) for Single-Engine Pontoons. JPO will be offered as an option on Harris’ premium pontoons.
What are the benefits of joystick piloting?
The beauty of a joystick is that it integrates the thruster, throttle and wheel into an interface you control with one hand. It may take a few hours of practice, but you’ll be a docking like a rock star quickly. Joystick piloting makes maneuvering your pontoon even easier for several reasons.
- Precision: Allows for better and more controlled movements
- Ability to move the boat slowly: Gives the driver more time to consider what to do and when
- Intuitive user interface: Builds confidence and takes the stress out of docking and close quarters maneuvering
How to use joystick piloting
With a joystick, you can maneuver forward, backward, sideways and on a diagonal with just a hand gesture.
Spin the boat in place by simply rotating the joystick.
Move sideways or diagonally by pressing the joystick toward the direction you want to go. You may need to rotate the joystick slightly to keep the bow in line since there’s so much power from the engine applying force in the back. It’s best to tap and release the joystick often for more precise and measured responses.
If your pontoon has two outboards, the joystick will control both engines, which will work together to combine directional forces that impact the bearing and movement of the boat. With JPO for Single-Engine Pontoons, integrated thrusters deploy from the pontoon to assist the outboard in maneuvering the boat.