Following the lead of the powerboat industry, which has been offering low-speed maneuvering and docking systems for some time (pod drives and thrusters in various combinations), sailboat builder Beneteau introduced Dock & Go, a "revolutionary innovation to dock your boat with complete confidence."
The system uses a joystick to synchronize a propeller-driven base unit with a bow thruster to maneuver a sailboat into a berth or mooring.
Here is how it works: A controller synchronizes a 180-degree pivoting Saildrive base and a bow thruster. Maneuvers are carried out using a cross-shaped joystick at the helm, moving the boat 90 degrees to port or starboard, forward, astern and turning on the spot. To go astern, the operator can pivot the Saildrive with no loss of power because rotation is achieved in half a second by an electric motor.
Beneteau calls Dock & Go "fun and very intuitive" and says the system will make "docking the boat in a restricted space easy" with "precision of movement that is incomparable."
The Beneteau system is similar to the ComfoDrive, a German system that was developed for sailboats two years ago.
Dock & Go will be available for spring 2011 deliveries as an option on models with Yanmar 75-hp SD engines, such as the new Sense (a 50-footer), Oceanis 46 and Oceanis 50. The first unit will be shown in the North American market Oct. 7-11 at the U.S. Sailboat show in Annapolis, Md.