Earlier this week, I visited the Cummins global headquarters for marine sales, marketing and engineering in Charleston, S.C., primarily to try out the company’s new Cummins Inboard Joystick.
Introduced in February at the 2014 Miami International Boat Show, the Cummins Inboard Joystick is an inboard-based helm control that works with a bow thruster or a bow and a stern thruster. The thruster(s) play an integral role in the product’s overall value because they were specially designed for extended running time — as much as three times longer than conventional thrusters, according to Cummins.
The Cummins product can be used with four of its engine platforms: the QSB6.7 (250-550 hp), QSC8.3 (500-600 hp), QSL9 (285-410 hp) and QSM11 (300-715 hp). All four of these engines meet EPA Tier III emissions standards.
Sea Ray and Carver have already announced their desire to make the Inboard Joystick an option on appropriate yachts, and Cummins says many more boat companies are interested in the helm control. A 51-foot Sea Ray 510 Fly with the Cummins Inboard Joystick was on display at the Miami show.
“The market has been shifting toward joystick control for a long time, but now there are more players than ever before,” Cummins strategy and marketing leader Robert Mirman told me. “Cummins Inboard Joystick was developed as a system, applied as a system and serviced as a system. We are the only ones in the market who can say that. We think that is of great value to the customers and will help us drive up our market share. More broadly, we want to increase our non-engine options and the joystick is a good example of that. We want to look at other complementary systems that we can add to our engines.”
I tested the Inboard Joystick on Cummins’ 54-foot custom test boat docked on the Stono River at Ross Marine. She was powered with twin QSM11 (715 hp) diesels with deep-ratio ZF transmissions. What makes this vessel so effective is its ability to morph into various sizes, styles and shapes of boats. About 28,000 pounds of configurable ballast tankage allows the vessel’s displacement to vary from 38,000 to 66,000 pounds, said Cummins customer engineer Jack Funkhouser.
Fore and aft sails increase windage to resemble a trawler or other yacht with significant superstructure. This fully flexible platform also carries three bow thrusters, one stern thruster and five battery banks for testing purposes.