Americana Outdoors E-Magazine - May 2022

The complete HelmMaster EX boat control system consists of electronic steering, shift and throttle binnacle, joystick, autopilot, GPS receiver, heading sensor, CPU and touchscreen multifunction display all interfaced into a seamless operating environment that offers an array of navigation and fishing benefits. It’s available for boats powered by single and multiple Yamaha outboards from the four-cylinder F150 to the eight-cylinder XTO® 425. In this installment of Fishing with Helm Master EX, we’ll look at some of the system’s capabilities that can come into play when fishing around structure and shorelines. Be prepared to be amazed. Back to the lighthouse. When the other boats moved away, we ran the Pathfinder within casting distance of the rocks and hit the joystick button, which transfers helm control from the steering wheel and binnacle controls to the joystick and computer. With the push of a button on the joystick base, we activated the the FishPoint® function. FishPoint maintains the boat’s GPS position with

our position while we made repeated casts into the white water. The look on their faces was akin to hearing them say, “Who’s running the boat?” When we didn’t get a bite after a dozen casts using various lures, we easily moved the boat down the rockpile so we could cast to another section. To accomplish a lateral move, simply click the joystick in the desired direction. We preprogramed the system so each click would move the boat 10 feet in any direction. To move forty feet to the side, clicking the joystick four times “stacks” the increments. You can stack up to ten clicks if you want to move further. You can also move the boat forward or backward using the same joystick procedure, clicking the joystick to the front or the rear. If your boat has two or more outboards, Helm Master EX can move sideways, but the single engine system accomplishes the task by crabbing the boat forward and back until it settles on the new spot and automatically holds there without further input. You can also disengage FishPoint and move to the new position with the joystick or wheel and binnacle controls, then re-engage it to hold in the new spot. While the swells and current tried to move us off position, the Helm Master EX stayed on point beautifully. So, what was the system doing to simplify this incredibly complex maneuver? When we activated the joystick, all outboard functions transfered to the computer. This included shifting, outboard RPM adjustment and steering. When we engaged FishPoint (bow), the system instantly established its current position through its proprietary GPS receiver. To determine the direction the boat pointed, the system coordinated the GPS system with the heading sensor. Then the computer began manipulating the outboard in response to any forces attempting to move the boat off position. As the effects of wind and current impacted the boat, the system shifted the engine in and out of gear as needed, accelerating or decelerating as much as necessary to counter those forces and steered the boat to maintain the desired location

either the bow or stern facing into the prevailing current or wind depending on how you set it up in the menu. We had it set for FishPoint Bow, so the forward casting platform would be closest to the structure. The system instantly took control of the electric steering-equipped F300 outboard so we could concentrate on fishing. The operators of the other boats watched from positions nearby in amazement as our outboard started to shift, adjust RPM and steer itself as if by magic holding

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