Though berthing using a joystick is deemed easy, there are still some key techniques to employ when using IPS
When berthing a conventional shaft or sterndrive boat, the simplest technique is to nudge the bow in at an appropriate angle and once it’s close enough, tuck the stern in with a blip of astern as you bring the boat to a halt.
It is possible to use this technique on an IPS boat but it’s not ideal as the pod drives find going diagonally relatively hard. I think it’s easier to drive an IPS boat as if it were on a chess board by moving a square at a time, either forward, backward or sideways, like the castle in a game of chess.
This plays to the IPS system’s greatest strength and makes it easy for the helmsperson to use the joystick by pushing it in one of four directions without having to worry about twisting it at the same time.
Last month’s article showed some simple IPS manoeuvring techniques. This time we will build on that so that you can join the manoeuvres together for smooth, seamless berthing. The crucial part is the ability to reference exactly where the boat is in relation to the dangers.
For this I use a pair of transits ahead and to the side so that I can see exactly what is going on. This allows me to spin the boat on the spot regardless of wind and tide, using small corrections to stay safe, before continuing to drive the next part in a straight line.
The control given by the joystick allows you to be very precise but the power available also means that’s its easy to overdrive, which then needs counter correction, creating lots of unnecessary noise, wash and discomfort.
You should aim to be as gentle and accurate as possible using small inputs to ensure you don’t build up too much speed or momentum. This is especially important in stern-to mooring situations, where the wash from your pods risks stirring the ‘lazy line’ off the sea bed and flicking it around your props.