Product Review: Yamaha Helm Master For Single Outboards - The Fisherman

Product Review: Yamaha Helm Master For Single Outboards


The original Helm Master was Yamaha’s proprietary joystick control system for independent slow-speed maneuvering for multiple (two, three, or more) outboards. When Helm Master EX was introduced for the 2021 season, this new-and-improved version offered more bells and whistles, creating greater control and fishability for a wider range of boaters.

So when Yamaha mentioned that they were also offering a single-engine version of the upgraded Helm Master EX with a joystick controller, I must admit I was left scratching my head. No doubt, fingertip speed control adjustments, autopilot, rapid joystick-controlled directional changes, and a variety of programmed auto course, Williamson Turn, and Track Point/Set Point/Pattern Shift features are all potentially useful, but it’s still an investment. My questions were answered when Yamaha and VETUS bow-thrusters announced a newly formed partnership to take the integrated boat control system concept to a whole new level.

Helm Master EX is a fully integrated boat control system that makes navigating and getting to your destination easier; once you arrive it gives a whole new level of control to precisely maneuver to exactly where and how you want it. The addition of a VETUS BOW PRO thruster to a Yamaha Helm Master EX equipped boat dramatically improves the slow speed authority and ease of berthing, increasing safety and vessel usability.

The combination of the VETUS BOW PRO thrusters and Yamaha’s Helm Master EX means a single intuitive joystick easily controls engine power, allowing you to move your boat in any direction regardless of side winds, tides, and other environmental influences. This enhances the helmsman’s experience of boat control and is useful for larger vessels, for operators who want to simplify the helm controls, or where a heavy steering wheel may not be desirable or practical.

The expanded functionality of Helm Master EX features includes more programmed fishing functions, True Autopilot with heading and course hold, in-mode joystick adjustability, more automated essential boat operations, and fully electric steering for existing digital outboards 2.8L F150 to F350 B and C (new digital outboards 2.8L F150 to XF450 feature built-in electric steering.)

For single-engine outboard fans, getting back into the slip at the end of a long day can sometimes be harrowing. With the typical afternoon sea breeze challenging your ability to control the vessel – especially when bringing a cabin boat or dual console’s bow back into the wind – the joystick controller makes eminent sense when used in conjunction with a secondary thrust source, in this case, the VETUS bow thruster.

When The Fisherman’s Mike Caruso was putting together his personal Dream Boat, a Steiger 25 DV Miami powered by a single Yamaha F350, some of his dockside maneuverability was potentially compromised when he opted for that single 30-inch XXL in lieu of twin 150s. However, the addition of the Yamaha Helm Master EX in conjunction with the VETUS bow thruster was his ace in the hole, providing the ability to fine-tune the direction in which his boat is heading, wind or not.

Helm Master EX boasts enhanced joystick maneuverability with smoothly precise and quiet operation, along with new single-function buttons and features like Drift Point Track. Effortless Yamaha Autopilot can be adjusted with the joystick and includes functions such as course and heading hold, Track Point (NAV along waypoints), and two types of pattern steer that seamlessly integrate with Speed Control and Pattern Shift. In addition, joystick adjustability provides increased comfort, control, and convenience and allows for fine-tuning of the Yamaha Autopilot and Set Point features without leaving current mode, creating additional ease of use and capability.

“The Yamaha Helm Master EX joystick was the one feature that I wanted to have on this new Steigercraft 25,” Caruso said while adding, “When the F350 is combined with the VETUS bow thruster, the resulting control that I get with this fore-n-aft combo takes all the guesswork out of the dockside equation and creates a lot less concern at the end of the day if the wind is up.”

Yamaha’s incredibly fast and responsive Digital Electric Steering (DES) means Helm Master EX provides precise control with an uncluttered bilge. DES can now be added to any current and most previous Digital Electronic Control (DEC) capable Yamaha outboard models. The system’s DEC (control box) has also been redesigned for ergonomic comfort and ease of use. All functions previously on the Helm Master control now come standard on all Helm Master EX system configurations. Helm Master EX suits a wide variety of boat applications, fits all current Yamaha DEC outboards, and back-fits outboards for a wider range of repower flexibility.



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