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Piloting Yamaha's Next-Gen Helm Master EX System

We experienced all the benefits of the next-gen Helm Master Ex System aboard a Lighthouse 264CC.

Yamaha first released the Helm Master control system to the market in 2012 to a targeted audience of twin and triple outboard engine configurations with large horsepower engines. The latest release of the Helm Master EX system significantly broadens market opportunities as the EX system can be used in everything from single engines applications up to quintuple configurations. Helm Master EX also accommodates smaller engines that incorporate Yamaha’s DEC (Digital Electronic Control) system.

We had the pleasure of testing the capabilities of Helm Master EX while paired with twin 300 four strokes on a Lighthouse 264 CC. To say that the system is a game changer is, quite frankly, an understatement. Helm Master EX inspires self confidence, eases pressures of docking while totally changing the game of leaving from or arriving at the dock (did I mention sideways?), and makes the entire boating experience more pleasurable for everyone on board. It all comes down to total vessel control.

Let’s start with the all-new Joystick. Beyond the sleek look and ergonomic feel of the new design, the joystick incorporates Yamaha’s Staypoint, Fishpoint, and Driftpoint features. Staypoint holds the boat in position – imagine waiting your turn to get into a fuel dock, just hit Staypoint and the technology does the work for you. Fishpoint allows you to move the boat in measured increments over structure with either bow or stern into the prevailing wind and current. Driftpoint keeps the vessel’s heading while preventing drifting during prevailing winds or current. The joystick also gives the operator a set of plus/minus tabs to increase or decrease RPM based on the water and conditions.

The new autopilot system presents itself as a push button panel on the helm and incorporates Heading hold, Course hold, Track point and Pattern steer features. Simply push the buttons or tap your Multifunction Display to plot your journey.

Push button starting leaves the keys in your pocket and the small dash panel really cleans up the helm. The buoyant wireless fob (push button) also supports Yamaha’s Y-COP anti theft system.

Digital Electric Steering (DES) eliminates the use of steering pumps, hoses, and wiring on the transom and makes for a simple and clean looking installation. I love the idea of no more valves and hoses, no more filling, purging or bleeding hydraulic lines. Not to mention, the sound and feel of DES is simply awesome.

Digital Electronic Control (DEC) features a redesigned binnacle control box for single or multi engine installations. The binnacle incorporates trim and tilt (one at a time or all together), speed control, neutral hold to activate RPM without shifting into gear, a single lever button for multi-engine installations, and a centre engine button for slow trolling.

Yamaha clearly listened to the voices of consumers when their R&D team evolved Helm Master EX. That became crystal clear to me in discussions about the various installation options. Owners have four package options with Helm Master EX – Level 1 offers the new DEC binnacle and display only, Level 2 brings in DES (digital electric steering, Level 3 puts the Autopilot on the das and Level 4 pulls in the new joystick giving you the complete maneuverability package. And you can start at Level 1 and add more options over the course of time if that suits your needs.

Helm Master EX brings total vessel control solutions to a wide array of engine configurations. There is no doubt that this system will increase user confidence and improve the overall boating experience and that’s a win for boaters running with a wide range of experience and on a wide range of boats. And that bodes well for a safer, calmer boating experience for all.

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