DockMate vs. Yacht Controller

Jan 24, 2022 by Kevin Quirk

Triton puts two remote control docking devices to the test — and finds that both are winners

The Triton team recently gathered a group of independent yacht captains for a comparison test of wireless, remote-controlled docking devices. Three dealers were invited to participate, but Docking Master declined, so that left two: Yacht Controller and Dock Mate. The day before the event, Yacht Controller’s local distributor informed us that they were unable to send a dealer’s representative. But the owner of a 59-foot Marquis agreed to demo his Yacht Controller system for the testing, and Dock Mate’s local dealer team participated with their 32-foot Pursuit. The size of the vessel was not of concern, as we were only testing the feel and responsiveness of the remote docking units.

The testers included the owner/operator of the Marquis, a yacht electronic service tech, and three seasoned captains of vessels ranging from 90 feet to 250 feet. We took both boats out at the same time and had a team on each test boat. Each participant was given ample time to operate and dock both boats with each remote system on board.

Both systems feature controller options of either toggle switches or a joystick. The seasoned captains all preferred the toggle switches over the joysticks, since they were similar to having dual controls on the console.

After testing the units on the water, we returned to the dock and asked each tester to score a series of 10 questions relating to the feel of the unit, response times, ease of use, quality of the switches and toggles, range of the unit, etc. Surprisingly, the results were a tie — five questions favored Dock Mate and five favored Yacht Controller.

Here is some feedback from the testers:

  • Most preferred the simplicity of the Yacht Controller unit.
  • Dock Mate will always engage the thrusters when the unit is on, whereas the Yacht Controller will time out.
  • The levers on the Yacht Controller were preferred over the buttons on the Dock Mate unit.
  • Response time was slightly faster on the Yacht Controller.
  • Dock Mate’s ability to thruster up the main engines was critical for proportional control; Yacht Controller was only able to produce idle speed.
  • Dock Mate’s rechargeable battery was preferred over Yacht Controller’s standard AA batteries.
  • Yacht Controller featured a lanyard connection on each side of the unit that made it very easy to switch over when looking aft and controlling in the reverse direction.
  • Both products tested well for range; when walked about 250 feet away from the boat, each unit still responded to the controller.

Finally, we asked which unit was preferred, and Dock Mate came out the clear winner at 4-1.  One must wonder, would the outcome have been different if Yacht Controllers dealer’s rep had participated?

Overall, it was a fun day to be on the water. Both of these remote units are great accessories and provide freedom of movement on board. Is there a product you would like the Triton team to test? Send your ideas to crew@TritonNews.com.

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