Anyone who has driven a boat fitted with Volvo’s IPS drive knows. It is now a well-documented fact that these drives produce greater top speeds from lower horsepower engines, are more manoeuvrable and fuel efficient than standard shaft or sterndrives, and are extremely quiet and emit virtually no fumes. But now for the piece de resistance: Volvo’s ingenious Joystick.
Murphy’s Law dictates that most boat ‘dings’ occur as the skipper manoeuvres his vessel into its berth. And you can bet London to a brick that there will always be plenty of people watching just when those crunches happen.
Twin shaftdrives make the job a lot easier, but before the advent of electronic gear and throttle controls, many a sticky gear or throttle cable has caused a surge of power right at the worst possible time with predictable results. But even ‘fly by wire’ controls can’t produce the amazing performance of Volvo’s new Joystick.
Joy to use
Regal Boats were one of the first boat builders to design hulls especially for these drives and the boats excelled in performance. But add the new Joystick (as fitted on this Regal 4060 test boat) and it makes boating simple and easy. This is the first boat I have driven with the new Joystick and, to put it frankly, it’s bloody brilliant. It makes berthing a big boat child’s play, even for a novice. Turn the knob on top of the stick either left or right and the boat will spin on the spot in that direction without any forward movement. The boat moves in the exact direction the stick is pushed, sidewards, at a 45-degree angle or any angle for that matter.
When the stick is pushed in any direction, digital computer controls adjust the drive units independently to move the boat in that direction. One drive pod may be in forward, facing to port at 45 degrees, while the other is in reverse at some other angle. The computer works it all out, then adjusts the motors and pods accordingly, so that the boat moves in the right direction. Put simply, once you have used the Joystick you’ll think twice before buying any vessel not fitted with the system.
Family-owned, American boat builder Regal Boats has been in the business for almost 40 years and its Ocean Trac hulls are designed for maximum performance. Some boat builders warp or curve their hull shapes, which increases friction, slows the hull down and decreases fuel efficiency. But an Ocean Trac hull has a constant deadrise from the stern to the point where the hull meets the water. Here the angle of attack is slightly increased to enter the water perfectly. This helps increase hull speeds (from less power) and improves fuel economy. The hull planes quicker and tracks straighter.
It should also be remembered that these IPS hulls are designed specifically for this drive system and not just rejigged to accommodate the propeller pods.
Out on the water the test 4060, powered by twin Volvo IPS 400s, was a classy performer. From a standing start this almost 9000kg vessel climbed out of the hole and adopted a level running attitude reasonably quickly. Obviously, the optional IPS 500 engines would have more low down grunt and accelerate faster, but I wonder if the savings in purchase price and the fuel economy of the smaller engines for a 4 knot increase in top-end speed is worth the extra outlay.
The twin 400s cruised effortlessly at 24 knots pulling 3000rpm and had a top speed of 30.5 knots. Another big plus for the 400s was that at 24 knots they burned only 86lt per hour, which is very economical boating in this size class. This gives the boat a cruising range of 300 nautical miles on her 1044lt fuel load. She’d make the run to Coffs Harbour in one stint.
This boat is an Express Cruiser, but the balance between topside and below deck accommodation is excellent. The roomy cockpit and helm area is a feature of this boat. Full instrumentation, dual helm seat, massive circular lounge, removable table, sink and fridge unit: this boat has it all! There’s even remote CD player controls on the steering wheel.
The Chapman Marine Group, who imports Regal Boats to Australia, has fully optioned this vessel, so whoever buys it will get only the best: Regal towels and bedspreads, crockery and cutlery, genuine Italian Cherrywood joinery, air-conditioning, Raymarine electronics… there’s even a can of Gelcoat (for small touch-up jobs) in the cupboard.
But I digress; back to her layout. The kids can play in the aft cockpit, but even those adults seated here can still remain part of the conversation with people in the main cockpit. There are steps moulded into the dash and sturdy grab rails, so going to the bow through the split windscreen is an easy affair.
On the foredeck is a sunpad with a backrest that is attached by a simple but effective fastening system, so you’ll never lose the cushions overboard again. The bowrail is high and walkways around the cabin are wide, so going from the bow to the aft cockpit is quite safe, even for those who aren’t quite as fleet of foot as they used to be. The wide swim platform features a ladder and a hot/cold freshwater shower and there’s more storage in transom lockers than on many much larger boats. Three stairs lead below deck. The fully functional galley, with separate fridge and freezer, is to port and there’s a large main lounge to starboard. This converts into a double bed, so coupled with the forward stateroom and double amidships cabin this boat allows six to sleep in comfort.
The quality of fixtures, fittings and ambience below deck is superb. The 4060 is a two cabin, two head design, so both the forward stateroom and the amidships cabin has its own en-suite.
The bow cabin is as luxurious as the main saloon and features a solid sliding wooden door for privacy, hanging lockers for your clothes and an innerspring mattress on the island bed.
This boat has been fully optioned and has a price tag of $673,000, but the base price for a 4060 can be kept to as low as $500,000.
The 4060 Commodore Sports Yacht is a beautiful vessel with all the goodies, but for me the Volvo Joystick is its crowning glory. After driving her and using the IPS and Joystick system it’s going to be hard for me to go back to less sophisticated vessels. In fact, I am pretty sure my next boat will have to be IPS powered. That Joystick turns new chums into old sea dogs in the berthing stakes within minutes.
WORDS : IAN MACRAE