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An Easier Way to Dock Your Boat






Okay, I will admit it.  I am kind of old school when it comes to boating.  I take pride in the fact that I can put my boat in the slip without any assistance from a joystick or a gaggle of inebriated dock dwellers at the end of the day.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t feel that I’m perfect at it, but I do feel a bit of pride when I make that oh so soft but perfect landing in the right spot on a day when the wind is blowing one direction and the current flowing in another.  When one of my good friends recently bought a Regal 35 Sport Coupe with joystick control, I was one of the first to say, “That’s cheating!”, but every time I watch him pull into a slip, I am reminded of why he got it.

Every boater knows that the most difficult part of boating is putting the boat in the slip.  The stakes go higher when backing into a slip, and lets not talk about a windy day or strong currents.  For some, an enjoyable day on the water suddenly turns into an excercise in stress and frustration.  Admit it.  When you see a boat approaching a slip and you know the task is going to be a challenge, you want to get out the popcorn and sit and watch.  That’s good free entertainment.  


If using a joystick to dock your boat is easy, then what’s coming next is just plain child’s play.  What is that?” you ask.  Self docking boats.  Yep, you read that right.  Both Volvo Penta and Raymarine have developed the technology to make docking your boat as easy as pushing a shopping cart through your favorite grocery store.  The two systems use different methods to achieve their goal but the one thing they have in common is that they each reduce the stress of docking to virtually nothing.




Volvo Penta’s Self Docking Technology

The Volvo Penta Self Docking Technology System is designed to work with their already popular Inboard Performance System (IPS).  In fact, if you have a boat already equipped with their IPS system, you may be able to add on the Self Docking Technology.  Recently, Volvo Penta demonstrated the system by having a 68 foot yacht dock itself between two racing yachts during a break in the Volvo Ocean Race.  It pulled off the maneuver flawlessly as the crowd looked on.

A 68 foot yacht backing itself into place between two other boats using Volvo Penta's new Self Docking Technology.


Here’s How it Works

The system uses a set of sensors on the dock that allows the boat to sense its final berthing location and orientation.  Once the captain has moved the boat into range of the slip and the sensors can be detected by the boat, he/she can verify that the area is clear and turn control of the boat over to the docking system which will bring the boat into the berthing spot.  The Self Docking Technology System uses a combination of GPS and communication with the sensors to move the boat into place.

Volvo Penta's Technology uses sensors on the dock to guide the boat.
  
Due to the fact that the technology requires docks sensors to operate, it cannot be used in just any location but it literally provides a hands off docking experience.  Volvo Penta plans to have the system available some time in 2020.  Their vision is that marinas worldwide can be fitted with sensors on their transient docks so that any vessels equipped the technology can utilize it.  Marinas can then use the fact that they have docking sensors as a selling point for cruisers.

Raymarine’s DockSense Technology

If you prefer to have your boat powered by Mercruiser, dot not fret.  Raymarine’s DockSense system could be your ticket to easier docking.  It was recently demonstrated at the Miami Boat Show and definitely raised more than a few eyebrows.  


Raymarine's DockSense establishes a buffer around the vessel to prevent a collision.


Here’s How It Works

Rather than have sensors on the dock, DockSense has all of its sensors on the vessel itself.  Through a series of cameras placed around the boat’s perimeter, the system establishes a “buffer zone” around the boat.  As the captain maneuvers the boat into the slip, the system will automatically make adjustments in direction and speed to prevent a collision with any objects, such as a dock or another boat.  While this does not provide a totally hands free docking experience, it does make it much easier and does not require sensors on the dock to operate. 


DockSense uses camera on the perimeter of the vessel to detect proximity to other objects.


For the typical boater, a day spent on the water is one of the most relaxing things that you can do.  For some, that relaxed calm feeling can all fade away when they know that it is time to back their boat into a slip.  I have known some boaters that have actually decided to enjoy their boat at the dock rather than take it out because of the stress they feel when having to put it back in the slip at the end of the day.  Imagine ordering your favorite dessert and having it brought to your table but you can only smell it and not eat it.  For those individuals, this technology can allow them to have their cake and eat it while looking like a pro at the helm.  

As of yet, I do not know how much either system will cost as an option on a boat but I am guessing that it will be more than just a few bucks.  So for now, personally, I will stick with my old school way of docking my boat.  Besides, I actually do enjoy it. 

Happy Boating



Captain Frank
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Comments

  1. Cool novelty, just isn’t practical.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is awesome! I want!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting. Two very different approaches to the same task. I'd love to see them in use one day.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Vincent SargentiMay 8, 2019 at 11:17 PM

    I’m all for this. I love technology. Is it cheating to use an iphone to find information? GPS? Autopilot? Electronic boat valet? Sign me up!

    ReplyDelete

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