Having owned several jet boats myself, low speed manueverability is one of their shortcomings. However, proper planning and attention to the wheel and throttle usually get the job done, particularly on a twin engine boat where the throttles can be employed to control direction. I would think that as the owner of 4 of these type of craft, the OP should have had a pretty good handle on control.
I have owned a Yamaha jet boat since 2004, it is a SX230. I have used it on several lakes, but mostly on the Mississippi River. Yes, you must pay attention to the steering when going slow since there is no rudder. Other conventional boats with an out drive also function as a rudder. Yes, there is an after market improvement to add a rudder that is spring loaded so at speed it rotates out of the way. I have not added this to my boat and feel no need to do it. This is my second boat, my first was a conventional I/O. I do not have any experience with other jet boats.
Could it be made better, yes, and it should. There are many advantages to jet boats.
Something this boat can do that others cannot. When preparing to dock or put the boat back on the trailer I will turn the wheel all the way and leave it in dead slow thrust. The boat will rotate about its center and is less likely to drift.
What if the azipod was a jet nozzle that could turn 360 degrees and not a shrouded propeller like in the bigger boats? The key would be to get the jet nozzle to be able to rotate 360 degrees. Probably have to put the jet intake to the pump at the rear of the boat. Some creative piping design and pump orientation might help as well. Might be a good 3D CAD model to work on.
The problem is that in low speed manuvering, the high velocity jet is not as good as a larger volume of low velocity water like from a larger diameter propeller. During low speed manuvering the jet velocity is low so the thrust is not very high.
Did you take it back to the dealer, and ask for a demonstration of YOUR boat at low speeds? Is it possible the steering system is defective in just your boat? If the dealer tries and fails at low speed turns, might you have a case for an upgrade or refund?
Azipods add rather greatly to the depth of the boat, I think. Jet boats by nature have a very shallow draft. Having the pod sticking down deeply will have novice boat owners banging them on the bottom to the point of damage. I suspect they would be prohibitively expensive for a pleasure craft.
Wouldn't you love to have a look at the product specs? Must go fast. Must have cool colors. Must be able to support a cooler, lights, radio. Must be able to handle corners while going fast. Optional features, being able to steer and manuever around docks and swimmers at low speeds. How does something like that get past a certain basic level of testing.
Think about it. Somebody had to take the very first prototype out and say, "Yep, this works." I wonder, if monkeys do the designs, do apes do the marketing and gorillas do the design verification?
Maybe a couple of those low speed electric trolling motors could be adapted for use as thrusters? They are retractable too. I have never bought one so I don't know what they cost or exactly how they perform.
I have operated many small boats and a couple of larger ones and I know low speed handling is really important. Hitting the dock too fast or bouncing off of it is usually expensive and at least embarassing.
Larger boats are now coming equipped with a device called an azipod which allows the thrust to be directed 360 degrees I think. That would seem to be an attractive approach although probably not well suited to this smaller jet boat application.
On the other hand a set of additional nozzles fed from the main pump that performed similar functions might be workable but I would guess the added cost is unlikely to make it attractive.
I got to agree with you on this one, Doug. Seems like maneuverability at slow speeds is an obvious performance necessity. You do have to motor these things around in harbors. I wonder if they will develop v-boats to turn these powerhouses electric.
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