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Yacht controllers?

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by Bigdog, Sep 29, 2020.

  1. Bigdog

    Bigdog New Member

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    who makes the best yacht controllers
  2. YachtForums

    YachtForums Administrator

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  3. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    The best yacht controller is the one made by your parents :)

    sorry... couldn’t resist
  4. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Yacht controller is the only one I'd trust.....given how long they've been in the industry. Like anything electronic, I've seen them fail also.
  5. KoffeeCruising

    KoffeeCruising Member

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    We have the Yacht Controller brand and I love it. When backing into a slip from the Flybridge I can move around the blind spots to see where I am. Fantastic for short handing and an absolute marriage saver.

    Great for anchoring and retrieving anchor.
    Highly recommend.
  6. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I have no experience with the brand Carl mentions but very good experience with Yacht Controller.
  7. Gratitude

    Gratitude Member

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    I have the Dockmate Twist. It allows control of the engines, bow and stern thrusters and the anchor. Either system, Dockmate or Yacht Controller can be a life saver. Let me share my story from this past July.

    This past July I anchored in a place called Sunrise Bay with my wife. Note that my wife is not an experienced boater and not a true first mate, though she's learning. Conditions were sunny with winds out of the east at roughly 12-14 knots. When we decided to leave my wife was on the bow assisting with guidance of the anchor and I was at the bridge helm. As i was raising the anchor, the windlass failed and proceeded to not only drop the anchor but continued to allow anchor rode to feed out with no way of stopping it. Mind you there are other boats anchored around us. While this was happening I simultaneously grabbed my Dockmate and proceeded to the bow in a hurry while activating my Dockmate. Basically it allowed me to put my ass in two places at one time. So while tightening the windlass which would not hold, i was maneuvering the boat with my Dockmate trying to keep it in place and avoid hitting other boats. I had to hold the windlass wrench in place while maneuvering the boat and my wife using the foot controls followed my direction in raising the anchor. In the end we avoided colliding with anyone and were able to secure the anchor. As an FYI, if I had not had such a device there was no way I would have gotten that anchor up since it would loosen up after I tightened it time and time again (it has since been fixed).

    While some may think it's an unnecessary toy, you never know when you might need something like this. It saved my boat and other boats from potential damage as well as made me realize just how important it is to have an EXERIENCED deck hand on board to assist in situations like this.

    I hope this helps in your decision, although I can't direct you to any specific brand
  8. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Whenever I ve had a windlasses issue or for some reason wanted to be at the bow while raising anchor, my GF takes the helm and hovers the boat while I address the issue. If needed I give commands using hand signs. No need for some fancy gizmo
  9. Gratitude

    Gratitude Member

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    Can I borrow your Girlfriend LOL? My wife has never really driven any of my boats. Yes I know that's bad and we're working on it. I wouldn't chance that on a 50' vessel with no experience at the helm, regardless of hand signals or verbal ones.
  10. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    At the very least she should be trained to put the engines in out of gear.
  11. Maxwell

    Maxwell Senior Member

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    and effectively call for help on the VHF
  12. JWY

    JWY Senior Member

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    And be able to launch the dinghy in an emergency.
  13. mapism

    mapism Senior Member

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    Verbal signals are a no-no in my experience, with wives/girlfriends.
    For some reason, there's always something wrong in the tone, that can be perceived offensive. ;)

    But for anchoring in the Med, quite often it's useful to go at the bow to look for a sandy patch on the bottom, where to drop the hook.
    So, my personal habit is to always take care of the ground tackle myself, for both deploying and retrieval.
    It's just simpler to stick to the same procedure at all times - and someone has to go to the bow to release (or secure, after retrieval) the chain lock, anyway.

    So, even if my wife is also a licensed captain, we agreed on hand signals (as also Pascal suggested) which could be executed by a baby.
    Rather than asking her to move in any direction, I give direct instructions about throttles (port/stbd/fwd/neutral/reverse) and if necessary bow thruster (port/stbd).
    Not because I don't trust her, but because by staying at the bow I can see exactly what it takes to reach that sandy spot: a short burst forward of port engine, a longer one of stbd engine, a bit of reverse, whatever.
    It's just a matter of agreeing on clear, non-ambiguous hand signals, and it's like using a remote controller - but without the hassle of handling it. :cool:
  14. alvareza

    alvareza Member

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    Are there standard hand signals or what do you use?
  15. mapism

    mapism Senior Member

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    I'm not aware of any standars, we just agreed what we felt to be easy/intuitive.
    A bit hard to explain in written, but essentially I use one hand, pointing left/right fingers up/down for port/stbd engine fwd/rear respectively.
    Hand closed meaning all neutral.
    But whatever works for you, I guess!
  16. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    My experience is with Yacht Controller. I'd go with them simply because they've got the most experience. However I don't like using any. Anything electronic, and especially powered by battery are subject to failure at exactly the wrong time. That said, on large, blind to the back yachts they're necessary, but on those boats they're generally plugged in to the main power grid. As for that windless failure didn't anybody think to just manually pull in the anchor line slack by hand and tie it off? As for the wife, guests should be involved with operating the boat as much as possible both to entertain them and to make them useful in an emergency. Someone who is regularly on the boat should be encouraged to share the operation and to learn. My experience has been that men love to sit behind the helm and run the boat, but that bores women. Women are better at things like close quarters maneuvering, because they're more detail oriented. If your wife regularly cruises you'll be doing you both a big favor by making her a partner and co-captain.
  17. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    we use pretty much the same. the boat we run has an enclosed flybridge making voice com impossible although using the hailer helps if needed.

    our Hatteras has an open FB but we still use hand signals
  18. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

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    I agree that there should always be more than one aboard that can at least run the boat somewhat in an emergency. I too use hand signals when retrieving anchor. I also make sure to show people how to follow the black track line on a plotter to get back to town. Where I'm at people can get turned around and lost pretty easily. Also have lots of rocks and other bad things to avoid.
  19. Gratitude

    Gratitude Member

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    Thank you for that input. My wife is learning but its hard to learn on a large boat. I have hired a captain to teach her as well. As for guests, yes, all my guests participate when on board. They want to and like to. As for the anchor, my anchor rode is all chain - hard to tie off on a cleat. And in a situation like that, I have to say I can't always think of every option. It's not like you deal with this type of problem on a daily basis. I reacted the best that I could at that moment in time.

    Back to the issue at hand. Yacht Controller, Dockmate - I feel they do have a place on a vessel of size. We all know there are many situations we wish we could move away from the helm even if its 4 feet away to get a better visual on any given maneuvering situation. While I prefer to be at the helm using my controls, it does work nice when needed. My suggestion if you get one, practice, practice, practice AWAY FROM THE DOCK!!!
  20. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    There should be either a chain stopper or line/cable with a quick release hook to secure the chain. Also make sure the end of the chain is attached in the locker with about 6’ of line so it can quickly be cut loose in an emergency