Here’s our video showing trials of Beneteau’s radical Dock&Go system onboard their new Sense 50

Dock&Go has to be seen to be believed (hence this video may help): although initially cynical, the speed by which I was converted is a testament to the potential this has to make berthing a large yacht childsplay. Shot during our test of Beneteau’s new Sense 50 in Les Sables D’Olonne, there’s an explanation on how it works in our December edition (out now), plus the full report of the Sense 50 trial will feature in the January 2011 edition.

Activating the Dock&Go joystick locks the helm and engages a motor to control a 360º rotating saildrive, while synchronizing commands with the bowthruster for sideways thrust. Joystick modes of forward, astern, and side-to-side are intuitive, and by pulling the joystick towards you for reverse, you get the same powerful thrust as in forward mode. But the most useful function is the rotary top of the joystick – when you turn it one way it turns the boat around its keel/centre, rather than just the sideways motion if you pushed the stick to one side. (Keeping one hand in the pocket forced me not to try and touch the wheel!)

Within minutes of trialling it, I had the confidence to park the 50 footer several times onto a finger berth in a sidewind without hesitating. As Beneteau’s slogan says “It’s a game”, and the Nintendo generation will certainly take to it (which may explain the backing track to this!). But the real point is the potential benefit of eliminating the anxiety involved with parking a large yacht, and may well make the difference of many couples buying such a boat.

Developed with ZF (German) and Yanmar with their 75HP (as 50ft is typical market for needing it), Groupe Beneteau has exclusivity for the first three years.