June 20, 2017

Sea Fox 228

Photo Credit Sea Fox

When Terry Conrad, of Conrad Marine, offered me ride in a brand-new Sea Fox 288 Commander that he was outfitting I immediately agreed. Who doesn’t like a ride in a fast boat when somebody else is buying the gas? The best part turned out to be using the Optimus 360 Joystick Control from Teleflex.

Over the years I have driven my share of outboard powered boats, but using the Optimus 360 Joystick Control System was a revelation. Being from the pre-video game generation I have no talent when it comes to using a joystick. According to the manufacturer “By developing the joystick function to be intuitive, Optimus 360 allows you to move your boat not only forward and back, but also sideways, by pushing the joystick to the left, or to the right, and even, rotate on a dime, all with a simple twist of the joystick.”

Sea Fox ConsoleCredit D. Barnhill

On my first try leaving Terry’s dock in a brisk breeze it didn’t take me long to get somewhat confused, but we got away with little drama. After a short run around to the town of Mahone Bay I took another try at the Optimus and this time I was getting the boat to do what I wanted. Back at Terry’s dock I impressed myself (if no one else) by putting the boat alongside in short order. There is no question this kit takes the intimidation out of docking which should increase the enjoyment of all onboard.

A quick note about the boat. The centre console Sea Fox 288 Commander(from Neptune Marine in Quebec City) is powered by twin 300 HP Yamahas, and equipped with the newest Garmin navigation displays (12” GPSMAP 7412XSV), an AIS 600 automatic identification system, GMI 20 instrument display, Garmin GDS digital sounder, Garmin Panoptix forward-looking sonar transducer, Garmin GMR Fantom radar and, well you get the idea. This was the best equipped 28-footer I have ever seen.

JoystickPhoto Credit G. Cairns

All this information can overwhelm a new owner and you do have to remember to look where you are going. Terry says it is important to work with an owner to give them the information they really need first and allow them slowly develop a deeper understanding of all the features available to them. With 600 HP and about 7,000 ibs of boat we were up on the plane quickly and it only took about 3,000 rpm to stay there. We did an easy cruise at 3,600 rpm and about 27 mph. The engines were new, so I didn’t see where the top end was, but Terry tells me it is in the 50-mph range. –Glen Cairns