David Glenn looks at Oyster's whacky, new Lunch Dinner boat controlled by a mouse 12/3/06

The ubiquitous computer mouse has become what your right hand’s for (sadly) but if you thought you could leave it behind when you go boating for the week end you might be wrong

Oyster’s LD46 has struck a chord among yachtsmen looking for a powerful launch. I hesitate to call this a picnic boat because the LD apparently stands for Lunch Dinner clearly in an attempt to distance itself from what might be regarded as relative lightweights in the serious runabout market.

The 43 weighs 11 tons, is built in Auckland, New Zealand by McDell and of the eight so far sold all of them are powered by twin Hamilton Jet Drives. They are serious offshore launches as the Kiwis tend to refer to them.

Jets are notoriously tricky to control at low speeds as many suyperyacht tender drivers will testify, but Hamilton have come up with an ingenious control system which allows the helmsman to move the vessel in any direction (including directly sideways) using their blue Arrow ‘fly by wire’ system. Previously helmsmen needed to control a joystick and the wheel itself to manoeuvre, but this little puppy enables the vessel to be controlled one handed using a simple, computer style mouse.

It’s shaped like a boat (mouseboat), mounted just to the right (outboard) of the steering station. Push it forward and the boat moves that way; aft and she goes astern; left or right and the boat literally moves sideways thanks to the computerised system working out exactly how to angle the jet ‘buckets’ and the direction of the jet nozzles.
You can link it to GPS to ‘hold’ the yacht on station as long as you like (very popular among Kiwi fishermen) and there is no need at all for a bow-thruster for those awkward marina ‘moments’.

We’ll look at the system in more detail in an upcoming issue ofYachting World.