By: Scott Wa
Mercury Marine has just released their innovative Joystick Piloting for Outboards (JPO) platform for single engine pontoons.
Boaters running a single 175-600 hp Mercury outboard with Digital Throttle & Shift (DTS) controls can now gain precise 360-degree piloting control for low-speed maneuvers. The announcement adds another large boat category to the already extremely popular Mercury JPO and DTS systems.
“For several years, pontoon boats have represented one of the fastest-growing segments in the market, but until now, only multi-engine boats were able to enjoy joystick capabilities,” said Tyler Mehrl, Mercury category manager for controls and rigging. “Mercury JPO for Single-Engine Pontoons opens up new opportunities for pontoon owners to glide effortlessly into a slip or ease up to a fuel dock without worry.”
The new system will be available in March 2022 on new boat builds, and will be compatible with hydraulic or electro-hydraulic steering.
The platform also uses integrated bow and stern thrusters positioned under the deck that deploy and stow as needed during low-speed handling. To activate the system, the driver simply moves the joystick in the desired direction and the JPO system responds accordingly to move the boat. The joystick can also undertake combined commands, for example rotating and moving sideways simultaneously.
The JPO system for single pontoon outboards will be available in two configurations. The Basic version will be available on Mercury FourStroke, Pro XS® and SeaPro™ outboards with DTS controls and will pair with a traditional hydraulic helm, making it available to a wide array of boats and platforms.
The Premium version uses an electronic steering helm and can be rigged alongside Mercury 250-600 hp Verado® outboards. It can be paired with VesselView multi-function displays that give access to advanced featured like Auto Heading and Route.
“We are rapidly seeing more builders enter the pontoon market as this segment is attracting first-time and seasoned boaters due to their versatility and advanced technology,” said Nick Stickler, Mercury Marine vice president of global category management and strategic planning. “We are excited to work with our OEMs, offering a joystick option that will greatly enhance the pontoon experience.”