Raritan Engineering Company your Raritan marine products experts would like to share with you these topics we thought would be of interest to you this month regarding how to use your outboard engine to help you fish.
Your Raritan marine products professionals talk about how surrealistic car commercials: Driver dials a knob on his dash and his pickup truck precisely and skillfully backs his trailered boat. Guy pushes a button and his luxury vehicle parallel-parks itself – hands-free.
That same kind of abracadabra control has come to boats, and it’s beginning to have a significant effect on fishing.
Those of us “of a certain age” experience a creepy Orwellian sensation when we see this electronic voodoo. Others just marvel, mouth agape, at the technology.
Outboard Control Features
“Originally, we were only factory installed. You would go to a [boat] dealer and buy a boat either with or without Helm Master,” says Ry Landry, Yamaha marine product and information specialist.
When SeaStar adds the SeaWays Autopilot feature (expected early this year), it will be a free software update install-able by dealers.
“I hate change. But this has made me such a better fisherman, it’s not funny,” quips Capt. George Mitchell, a longtime tournament angler out of Florida who has been using Yamaha’s Set Point features with Helm Master since those updates were announced last February.
Yamaha’s Set Point system includes three functions:
Stay Point: Holds the boat’s position and heading. Best used when you must hover above a specific location without swinging or drifting.
Drift Point: Holds the boat’s heading but not position. The bow maintains its orientation while the boat drifts with the current or wind.
Fish Point Bow: Holds the boat’s position with the bow pointed into the wind/current, using the water- or airflow to maintain heading.
But Mitchell is quick to point out, as were all the other captains and manufacturer reps we talked with, that having these functions is not an excuse to leave the helm.
Fishing Can Be Much Easier If You Use Your Outboard Engine
The noise and commotion that Stay Point can create can be advantageous in certain situations, such as near Gulf of Mexico oil rigs. Cobia respond curiously to new sounds. Turbulence can attract other fish as well.
“When we were doing our investigative work to develop the modes for SeaStation, we spent time with charter captains to see how they would most benefit,” says Shane DeWitt, electronics product manager for SeaStar.
SeaStar’s Position Hold uses the boat’s most natural heading and modulates the throttle to the engines, moving them with minimal shifting to get the desired performance.
Using these systems, anglers no longer have to rely on an anchor that allows the boat to swing side to side, Mitchell says. “With Fish Point Stern or Fish Point Bow, all you have to do is jog the joystick to adjust the boat. You’re not having to pull the anchor to re-position.”
SeaStar’s SeaStation system integrates (at no charge) with the company’s Optimus 360 joystick steering package, which is compatible with twin-, triple- and quad-outboard applications for Suzuki, Evinrude and Yamaha products as well as twin mechanical Hondas.
With quadruple Mercury outboard setups, the two port engines might be tie-barred together, with regular and counter-rotating props. Ditto the two starboard engines. “It’s like a big dual [engine].”
These station-keeping and joystick systems all function similarly, employing a GPS sensor and other instruments mounted on the boat’s hardtop, several computers and devices such as inertial measurement units and digital compasses at the helm.
Future Outboard Options
Outboard companies won’t say what features they might be working on next for station-keeping systems. SeaStar will soon roll out its SeaWays autopilot function, allowing captains to transit to a waypoint or follow a track using the Optimus 360 system.
“We’re always working on new things.” That’s all Mercury’s Balogh will say. “There’s a lot of interest in the joystick in general. We’re happy with the position we’re in right now.”
So don’t forget to use these three functions of your engine to help you fish better. 1) Stay Point: Holds the boat’s position and heading. Best used when you must hover above a specific location without swinging or drifting; 2) drift point: Holds the boat’s heading but not position. The bow maintains its orientation while the boat drifts with the current or wind; and 3) fish point bow: Holds the boat’s position with the bow pointed into the wind/current, using the water- or airflow to maintain heading.