Privacy Matters Click for YFYS Click for Walker Click for Westport Click for Nordhavn

Pods make you more or less likely to buy

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by olderboater, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. Cruz

    Cruz Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Messages:
    121
    Location:
    East Coast
    This pertains to a boat I purchased new precisely five years ago and have since sold. I had narrowed my choice down to this particular brand and model before deciding on the propulsion package. It was available with the same engines paired with either V-drives or Zeus pods. While I am generally an early adopter and a big fan of new technology, I actually had presumed I would get the V-drives so the availability of Zeus was not a driving factor for me in selecting this boat. Like so many, I had read a great deal about pod drives but had never operated or even been aboard a boat that had them. When I went for a sea-trial the available boat had Zeus. That’s all it took. The boat was in a very tight slip, the exit from the fairway was through a narrow seawall opening and the wind was blowing a steady 10-15. I was instantly impressed with how precisely the boat maneuvered and once we were clear of the seawall my salesperson put it sideways to the wind (this vessel has a fair amount of windage) and engaged Skyhook. Just as advertised, the boat just sat there. Then as we ran it through its paces, the handling characteristics at speed, the silky-smooth integral auto-pilot and trim tabs, the low noise levels and virtual absence of exhaust just enhanced my impression. The efficiency was also obvious as I kept an eye on the fuel flow, although that was less important to me than the other attributes. At an up-charge of around $85K I wasn’t anticipating realizing any savings in the amount of time I was likely to own the boat. But the increased range and available speed over the V-drive model was certainly something that I came to appreciate through the time of my ownership.

    The many things one should consider have been well discussed here, including the added complication of the technology and the lack of ubiquitous service. But my intended use at the time was coastal cruising, not international island hopping, so I wasn’t put off by that. As far as the added complication, everybody obviously has their own comfort level and I was already coming out of a (V-drive) boat with fly-by-wire and computerized controls so having to rely on and service newer technology wasn’t an issue for me. Of course with the pods you do have two more major mechanical components that you are continuously counting on and I will say that I could never quite shake the enhanced feeling of “what’s going to go wrong” that I already generally have when underway (I really hope to lose that someday). But I am a stickler for due-diligence and with this boat that included always testing the joystick before untying, being sure I fully understood the emergency operation procedures in the event of a failure and I also spent a lot of time working just the sticks in various conditions so I could know the handling characteristics of the boat as best as possible (they’re different than with standard drives and props). And keeping after maintenance and daily checks goes without saying. While I have friends who have had issues with their Zeus and IPS systems, and often at the most inopportune time of course, I am happy to report that I had a very positive ownership experience and never experienced a pod failure when underway. I did have two separate instances where a blade sheared off at speed, each blamed on a prop-manufacturing defect and covered under warranty.

    There’s no question that Zeus drives are not for everyone or every boating situation. I loved having them drives for their many benefits and would likely own them again. For now, the size and class I’ve since entered generally precludes that barring having three or more engines down below which does not interest me.
  2. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Messages:
    7,135
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale
    Very good information. It seems close in handling and efficiency are big selling tools. Now, as people get the same handling features in other systems on straight drives or v's, that one seems to decrease a bit in value. Of course a lot of people don't realize they can have the joysticks and similar maneuvering on any boat. Not the same exactly, but similar functionality.
  3. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    Messages:
    14,115
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale
    Yes and no. The joysticks on traditional drives utilizing a bow thruster are short lived and cannot be used for long periods of time without running out of electricity for the bow thruster, or overheating the hydraulic fluid if you're really using it.
  4. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Messages:
    7,135
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale
    Thrusters are more robust than they once were. We've had no issues, even using fairly tight dynamic positioning.
  5. Cruz

    Cruz Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Messages:
    121
    Location:
    East Coast
    So much for proof-reading my post three times. But I guess even with the typo it's true even if not eloquently said.

    The excellence of close quarters maneuvering with Zeus drives, at least in my particular application, can not be overstated. I could literally put that boat anywhere and sometimes had to under very adverse conditions without so much as a rub rail on a piling (not that there's anything wrong with that). As intuitive as joystick docking is and though extolled to be something "even a child can do" (scary), there is a learning curve to to be sure and the more I got to know the nuances my setup the more I enjoyed it. You also learn a different set of close quarters handling skills when you don't necessarily have to have the same considerations for the effects of wind and current. While some old salts may argue, there are most certainly things you can easily do with pods that you could not with traditional drives and props, even with thrusters. At least not with the same level of finesse. It was definitely a bit spoiling.

    I also definitely don't want to undersell the relative quiet and I believe I've already sold Skyhook.
  6. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Messages:
    7,135
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale
    I've only been on a boat with Pods one time. It was Volvo IPS. Didn't take any time to sell you on what it could do. At what cost that comes with in other ways is the question, but the maneuvering, the quietness, the efficiency are very real.
  7. QualityTime

    QualityTime New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2016
    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Seattle, Wa
    Newbie here....thanks to all for a very good discussion and pro's and con's offered. Currently looking to buy my first big boy boat after years driving my land yacht (40' Class A motorhome) and in my younger years boated with mere 20'ers. Was at the latest Seattle boat show and toured many boats included the Sabre's which offer the Zeus pod drive. I must say that although I'm comfortable learning to drive/navigate/dock etc and love the art of "piloting", I do realize that my wife is going to be a willing participant in this as most of the time it will be just the two of us. She was a trooper trailering, un-trailering and driving our ski boat, learned to drive our 40' motorhome towing our car, and I want her to be comfortable at the helm of a 40'-55' boat (we want to live aboard the boat and continually explore regions...I doubt we will be a "dock queen"). So things like the enhanced maneuverability that pods might offer, features like Skyhook that enable me to be the deckhand while she pilots, etc do appeal to me.

    I will tell you that as a newbie with no "dog in the fight" regarding pods or skyhook features, etc it is amazing to hear the dismissive comments from the "traditionalists" or old-school boat sellers regarding these newer and different features. I guess that comes with all new technology items. I'm sure many of them has seen a lot of snake oil in their day.

    Again thanks for all of the points....I've got a lot to learn.
  8. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Messages:
    7,135
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale
    I don't dismiss skyhook or any of the joystick features. Just I have them all without having pods so any advantage there is slight. As to the Sabre you looked at, I know many very happy Sabre owners with pods. They seem to have the science and art down.

    I guess that confirms again that I'm far more comfortable with pods from a builder that has demonstrated expertise and has built boats with them for a reasonable period. When builders just add them on as another drive option, they often do not gain the benefits they might have.