Dockmate wireless docking remote, life is easier with a remote control

Dockmate Twin on the left and Twist on the right

Many times I’ve wished I could step away from Have Another Day‘s helm but still control the engines from a better vantage point, or from where I want to handle a line. So it was great when Dockmate U.S. representatives came to Gulfport, FL to install their wireless remote system for me to review. In this entry, I’ll describe the system and my experiences with using it so far, which have been positive.

The System

The Dockmate receiver installed under Have Another Day’s upper helm

Dockmate is new to the US having started distributing their systems in 2018 but the company began selling systems worldwide in 2012 with several thousand systems already installed.  Their latest system is capable of controlling two engines, one or two windlasses, bow and stern thruster, and a horn.  An install consists of a receiver that is typically located under a helm and connected to each of the items being controlled and a wireless remote.

Dockmate has an array of options for integrating with engines, thrusters, and windlasses to make the installation as simple and flexible as possible.  On Have Another Day it controls my Volvo-Penta QL bow and stern thrusters, twin Volvo-Penta D12-EDC engines, horn and Maxwell 3500 windlass.  They say a 5 function (two engines, thruster, anchor, and horn) system with a Twin remote will typically cost about $7,500 installed.  A 6 function (two engines, two thrusters, anchor, and horn) with the twist remote connected to CAN bus controlled engines will run about $12,500, but there is a litany of equipment specific options that can influence specific pricing for your boat. So it’s best to get a quote from a Dockmate installer.

Dockmate is designed to interface with electronically controlled engines, so, if you have mechanical engines with cable or hydraulic actuation of throttle and shift they will refer you to Glendening for a compatible mechanical to electronic retrofit.  Dockmate also offers a transmission interface box to directly control transmission shift solenoids, thus bypassing proprietary engine control systems.

Receiver

The receiver is about a 9-inch by 9-inch box that mounts out of sight near one of the helms so that it can be connected to the various controls that it too will control.  It contains a series of interface boards or relays to control each function. Critical ones like thruster and engine commands have double relays, both of which must close to engage the function.  This safety mechanism avoids a stuck relay resulting in unintended actuation of an engine or thruster.



In the event of any failure, out-of-range condition, dead batteries or other unexpected events,  the system will return to neutral and the engine controls at the helm will be active.  12 or 24-volt power can be supplied to the receiver from two separate sources for further redundancy.  The receiver has a series of LEDs on top of the enclosure that light when a function is activated.

Remotes

Dockmate offers two styles of remotes, one with membrane push buttons available for either single or twin engine installs — called the Dockmate Single and Dockmate Twin — or their Twist which is a joystick style remote for twin-engine and pod-driven boats.  The Twist provides joystick control of the boat, so pushing forward and starboard will result in the boat moving in that direction while a twist of the remote’s stick will result in the boat twisting as well.

While that’s pretty straightforward to do on an IPS equipped boat it takes some clever customization to make it happen on boats not already equipped with a joystick.  I’ll show you some of Dockmate’s impressive customization capabilities below.   All the remotes are waterproof and float though Dockmate also includes a neck lanyard to help you keep the remotes from going overboard.

The charging pad for the Dockmate Twist

The Twist remotes have rechargeable batteries that are charged using a wireless charging pad, the Single and Twin remotes use alkaline batteries.  The pad uses the Qi wireless charging standard so I was pleased to find I could swap chargers with the Raymarine Ray90 wireless handset as well as charge a Samsung Galaxy phone.  The receiver and remote link wirelessly over an FM spread spectrum link utilizing five different 433mhz frequency channels at the same time to avoid interference, and in my testing that worked well.

Using the remote

Immediately after completing the install I walked the remote down the dock and tested range using the horn.  In a marina surrounded by homes and full of boats, I found range in excess of 300 feet, and in regular use I’ve never had a single control input fail to transmit and execute the command. Incidentally, if the remote does get out of range, it will beep when a button is pressed and the link light will blink to indicate a failure (something I only experienced when I walked hundreds of feet down the dock).

Navigating your boat by remote control is a bit different.  The Dockmate installer advised that it’s best not to turn your body 180 degrees because it’s difficult for your brain to handle the mismatch between the direction you push and the direction the boat moves.  I’m not always good at listening to directions so one of the first times I used the remote I found myself looking off the stern wanting to move away from the dock.  I pushed the joystick away from the dock and of course — since I and the remote were facing the wrong way — the boat headed right for the dock.

I’ve had the system onboard Have Another Day for a couple of months now and have had the opportunity to use it while departing a slip, docking, anchoring and weighing anchor.  We travel a lot and have worked out a good routine for each of these operations so I wasn’t sure how regularly I would use a remote.  But I’ve found it to be a useful aid even in those circumstances where it’s not an absolute must-have.  When pulling out of a slip in high wind conditions the ability to tend lines on the bow — and control the engines and thrusters — while my wife works lines at the stern is very helpful.



I also really appreciate how I can stand at the bow while weighing anchor and carefully watch it come up while also keeping the bow in the right place. And when tightening lines it’s helpful to be able to stand on the dock with the remote in hand and thrust the boat over. Finally, and although mine is connected to my windlass, we could have setup the Dockmate to wirelessly control the tender crane instead.

I’ve also come to like how invisible the Dockmate installation is, with only a master power switch and the charging pad showing at the helm.  I had wished for a helm display to duplicate the receiver’s LEDs so that I could confirm received commands, but as I’ve used it more I’ve gained more confidence it will just work.

Configuration Options

A Dockmate installer can customize nearly every aspect of the system’s operation.  Delays can be set for each function, throttle curves changed and –for Twist systems — the propulsion components used for each maneuver can be highly tuned.  For instance, Have Another Day’s torquey motors and big props mean that I can pretty easily spin the boat on differential thrust alone.  So I asked that the joystick’s twist motion be set up to put one engine in forward and one in reverse while not using any actual thruster power. By contrast, I visited one of Dockmate’s single-engine demo boats with bow and stern thrusters where the twist motion only uses the thrusters.   The range of configuration options makes me think that Dockmate can be tweaked to handle nearly any type of propulsion.

I’ve always looked at remotes as something that might be nice to have, but that I was okay without.  But now that I’ve had the Dockmate installed on Have Another Day for a few months I don’t want to give up my loaner system.  I am reminded of the value nearly every time we maneuver the boat; while it may be a luxury, it sure is a helpful and confidence inspiring one.

 

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Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of Panbo.com, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, completed the Great Loop in 2017.

30 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I think Ben S was wise to focus his Dockmate review on what he has seen and experienced, but anyone Googling the company (like I did this morning) will probably discover that someone has mounted a very aggressive “Deceptive Marketing Exposed” campaign against them at

    https://www.yachtremotereviews.com/

    “Don’t be Fooled by Deceptive Marketing, False Claims, Inferior Technology and Cheap Remotes!” leads to many specific accusations against “Dockfake” and lots more exclamation points, all apparently created by competitor Yacht Controller.

    If I were considering the purchase of a Dockmate system, I’d certainly look into these claims, but here’s an easily checked one that made me quite skeptical:

    Regarding Dockmate’s claim of “Improving the docking experience for thousands of boaters worldwide since 2012” fakeremotes.com comments in its “Corrected FAQ” section that this is “This is a bald face lie as the company was formed in march 2018 and has only a handful of systems installed” with a link to a Florida incorporation document for Dockmate, Inc. that is indeed dated March 12, 2018.

    So it seems like “bald face lie” and “only a handful of [Dockmate] systems installed” are correct, right? And who would want to buy a product from a company as deceitful as that?

    But it takes about one minute to learn that Dockmate Inc in Fort Lauderdale is just one of many global distributors for the Belgium-based Dockmate and thus the claim that thousands of Dockmate installs are out in field is quite credible.

    https://www.dockmate.eu/distributors

    Yacht Controller must know this, but it seems like they chose to lie about lying instead. I encourage companies to publically and specifically compare their products to competitors, but being deceptive while accusing a competitor of deception is ugly.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      I also realized that I know the man who incorporated the Dockmate U.S. distributorship — Marc Curreri — because he was one of the founders of Paradox Marine, now named GOST, way back in the day. Here he is on the right illustrating a high-end yacht intrusion alarm at MIBS 2009:

      https://www.panbo.com/paradox-marine-security-miami-demos/

      Then in 2014 when Marc’s company Marine Professionals Inc was termed a “key dealer” by Sonos, he helped arrange a Panbo product review. And I notice that MPI is now the only marine Sonos Gold dealer:

      https://marineprofessionals.com/about-us/

      In other words, Marc has already been successfully involved as a principal in distributing and installing a LOT of serious boat electronics, and to paint his new Dockmate distributorship as a lying fly-by-night operation is just ridiculous.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I must admit I was pretty surprised to read the criticisms of Dockmate on YachtThrusters’s fakeremotes website.

      I actually had a Yacht Controller system to install but for my EDC controlled engines Yacht Controller doesn’t have a plug and play harness so I would have had to cut the harnesses for my engines. I decided not to do that for an evaluation install of a system I didn’t own.

      Older systems will frequently require cutting, as my bow and stern thrusters did since there’s no plug, just screw terminals on the back of the controllers. But, Dockmate had a nicely made Y-harness for my Volvo-Penta EDC throttle and transmission control binnacles. YC actually uses Dockmate’s instructions for connecting the EDC take-control wire as evidence against them. That’s chutzpah.

      Given the myriad configuration choices and many of them being bare-wire connections I’d rather see both companies not use phrases like “never requires cutting wires” but I really don’t understand Yacht Controller’s trying to find fault with Dockmate’s claims given their own limitations.

  2. We first meet Dirk from Dockmate in 2015 at the MET’s show and we Started selling them in Australia and New Zealand in 2016.

  3. Marc Curreri says:

    Thanks for the kind words Ben. I’ve been in this industry for over 20 years now. The people that know me are aware of the truth and I really appreciate you making it a point.

    It may come as a shocker to people, but MPI was a Yacht Controller dealer for almost 10 years prior to starting Dockmate, as may other Dockmate distributors were.
    There is a reason why companies are making the switch.
    In my opinion, Dockmate simply offers the best technology out there for wireless remote controls. The customization capabilities with the NextGen software are incredible; providing the owner with their own “personal touch” to the 3 axis TWIST remote.
    When I saw the capabilities of the Dockmate product, I had to get involved.

    I felt like I owed it to the US market to let people know that there was more than one option out there.

  4. Matt says:

    Any idea on how this system differs from Yacht Controller? Happy to see some competition in the space.

  5. Jan Ebert says:

    I did purchase a Yacht Controller system in Germany at the Boot trade fair and asked the Yacht Controller guys in Florida if they are willing to install the system in my German registered boat on which I‘m still travelling the US waters. The system is much cheaper in Europe. And what did Yacht Controller US? They forced the Italian manufacturer to cancel my order and return the purchase price to me because they wanted to sell the unit for a much higher price to me. This style of doing business is bad behaviour and I never saw this kind in my 35 years of doing business yet. Good that there is a serious competitor now in the US!

  6. Captain Tom Petersen says:

    Speaking purely on the USES of the remotes and not the Yacht Controller versus Dockmate discussion, I was an early user of Yacht Controller aboard my last 2 boats over the past 11 years. It is a great tool indeed.

    I do recommend, from experience, that you always need to be ready to take over with the actual controls, Early on (before Yacht Controller went to a dual channel system), I was backing into a dock when the signal disappeared and the boat (a 60ft SeaRay) was gliding on its own without any control toward the dock! Since the dual channels this problem has been eliminated, but it still is on my mind when I use it.

    Remotes are great for docking. Do you NEED one? No, but it sure makes boat handling easier.

  7. Pachoud Yachts bought a Yacht Controller system on my behalf at the 2014 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show for a new build 80’ power catamaran. The yacht has lots of windage (as do most power catamarans) thus it was a firm requirement that the Yacht Controller controlled the engine RPM, I always have to add lots of throttle to get off a dock in anything but calm conditions. Mr Tony Valiente of Yachtcontroller was given all the throttle, engine and bow thruster information. Mr Valiente guaranteed me that while they cannot provide incremental RPM on Twin Disc controls at the time they would be able to in the not too distant future and certainly by the system was delivered and installed. He stated this in writing on the invoice (I can forward to anyone that might be interested).
    In 2016 the boat was launched and there was no ability to vary the RPM, just idle which does nothing in this boat. Over the next 3 years I was given excuse after excuse until they finally admitted it couldn’t be done. I asked for my money back, I was told the warranty period had expired. I did speak to a lawyer in Florida and he said I had an excellent case to sue Yacht Controller but that isn’t my style but I am sure they have lost much more business than a refund would have cost as I am happy to tell anyone that will listen about my poor experience with YC.
    I now have a Dockmate system. I am happy. It works (it took them a few tries, so some persistence on their part was required). The people are honest and pleasant to deal with, a far cry from the folk at YC. I had the misfortune to come across YC recently at the Palm Beach Boat Show where I expected an apology or something more than them spouting the same garbage they have on fakeremote.com when they heard that I have a Dockmate.
    In summary:
    The Dockmate system works. The people are honest and they have a good product. You don’t need to deal with the lies and dubious business practices of Tony Valiente and his scurrilous marketing activities.
    If anyone wants to get hold of me they can through the Samara website.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Thanks, Ian. Samara is an amazing yacht with what seem like very well thought out systems.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Ian,

      I’m visiting friends in Fort Lauderdale watching traffic go by and I see a large cat heading southbound. It looked familiar so I grabbed a set of binoculars and confirmed it is indeed Samara. Beautiful boat.

      Ben S.

  8. Ian says:

    You are welcome to take a closer look if you want.

  9. Bob says:

    I went to find the fakeremotes.com website mentioned above and apparently it was taken down. I googled “Dockmate” and there it was again at: yachtremotereviews.com

    Call me a greenhorn, but I don’t know of any other company in boating who operates with this level of deception. Sure, there are shady boat repair businesses, but a manufacturer????

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Thanks, Bob; I changed the link in my initial comment above. I don’t know why they dropped the fakeremotes.com site address, but yachtremotereviews.com seems exactly the same.

      And I found another, almost comical, bit of apparent deception about claimed Dockmate deception in the “Corrected FAQS” section.

      https://www.yachtremotereviews.com/corrected-faqs/

      “Is Dockmate a local company?” is the question that YRR derives from Dockmate’s claim that “Dockmate is a local USA parts, service and delivery company” (which seems accurate given their status as U.S. distributor of a the Dockmate product developed and manufactured in Europe).

      The YRR correction goes:
      “Yes very local. They operate their entire US operation out of a small nondescript warehouse while Falsely implying Yacht Controller, who operates via two company-owned buildings in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale and boasts a strong nationwide dealer network, is headquartered in Italy. We are not.” Which is followed by a Google Street View photo of Dockmate US and link.

      And then they ask you to “Compare that to the Yacht Controller headquarters” (i.e., the HQ they just said was not in Italy). But even the photo name is “yacht-controller-it” and it most certainly is in Italy as anyone can easily see here:

      https://www.yachtcontroller.it/official/en/company-profile/

      What’s more the photo appears to be heavily photoshopped when you use YACHT CONTROLLER S.r.l.’s own Contact link to Google Street View:

      https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5839815,9.235695,3a,73.7y,349.91h,98.33t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1ssZEiBSBAMXMGWcBhnDuXKw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

      Like where’s that big Yacht Controller sign on top of the HQ? Or is it actually a shared building?

      Of course this is all ridiculously silly because it’s perfectly fine that both the Dockmate and YachtController U.S. operations are simply distributorships.

      Except that what I just pointed out is apparently not meant to be funny.

      • Bob says:

        Ben, that is hysterical! The image of Yacht Controller’s corporate headquarters in Italy has shading behind the trees from two separate directions, which is obviously not possible, unless there are two suns in the sky.

        Additionally, there are reflections of cars in the windows….even though there are no nearby cars visible in the photo. It’s head-scratching as to why any company would partake in such nonsense to build their credibility after 15 years or so in business…..

        All of that said, I find Yacht Controller’s treatment of Mr. Underdown to be particularly contemptible, which was theft, plain & simple, since they promised in writing that their product would perform as specified, and then refused to offer a refund when it didn’t. Absolutely shameful.

  10. Maldwin M Drummond says:

    I had been considering a Yacht Controller for my Nordhavn, but based on a trial at the Stuart show, as well as this article, I have asked for an estimate from DockMate. Their representative came today, and I am reasonably sure we will come to an agreement.

  11. As an esteemed member of The Yacht Group (the exclusive North American distributor of the original Yacht Controller®) from its inception, I’d like to take this opportunity to respond to this thread of discussion as it relates to our company and that of our prestigious Italian partner, Yacht Controller, S.r.l..

    Any discussion about whether our Italian partner has (or doesn’t have) a sign on their building or whether their building is a shared space (it is not) completely misses the point and only serves to perpetuate Dockmate’s misinformation campaign meant to confuse would-be buyers of remote yacht control systems. Many of the misinformed comments related to this article are from people who are either not Yacht Controller customers or have little or no knowledge of the Yacht Controller products or The Yacht Group.

    However, the fact remains… Dockmate is, by any measure, an inferior imitation of a Yacht Controller including the poor copy of its transmitter. Dockmate has no laboratory certifications or proof of standards compliance. They have no partnership agreements with any of the primary marine electronics manufacturers. Quite to the contrary, several electronics manufacturers have warned that Dockmate and other cheap knock-offs are not authorized to be connected to or integrated with their control systems. However, the original Yacht Controller is embraced by these same manufacturers.

    Yacht Controller continues to set the Gold Standard for remote control for yachts with almost 18,000 boats equipped on 250 different brands. This success speaks for itself as do the more than 300 written and video testimonials from customers, builders, and distinguished brokers that may be viewed here: https://www.yachtcontroller.com/videos-testimonials and here https://www.yachtcontroller.com/testimonials. Our products have also been featured in more than 20 industry-related articles and is the winner of the National Marine Manufacturers Association award for innovation and other prestigious Marine Industry awards.

    Regardless of Mr. Curreri/MPI’s misstatements in the comments in this article, which one can only presume is not the norm in their business model, and the breach of their dealer agreement with Yacht Controller, the fact remains clear that the technological inferiority of the Dockmate remote is evident to any astute observer of marine technology. It is simply another example of a poor imitation trying to infringe on the reputation of the “genuine original”.

    We have all seen the results of cheap imitations time and time again with knock-off products ranging from soft goods to high-end watches. But in this case, the stakes are far more critical. Using an inferior knock-off to control an expensive vessel, where life and limb are at stake, can lead to unacceptable consequences. As our growing collection of removed and discarded fake remotes will attest, your decision regarding the best wireless remote control for your yacht is far too important to leave to chance. The safety of your loved ones and your yacht investment is literally in the palm of your hand.

    Finally, as for Mr. Ian Underdown’s comments, and his demand to modify his Twin Disc control system contrary to the direct policy of Twin Disc without their approval, is obviously wrought with dangerous consequences, especially compounded by a direct written warning from Twin Disc not to do so until certified, Logically, this is not something Yacht Controller would undertake . It may be the policy of Dockmate to blatantly ignore such warnings, but close to 18,000 Yacht Controller installations, have proven our policy of “Safety First” is the best policy.

    Our 16 years of experience and innovation have proven our mettle. We are pleased that Panbo will now take a closer look at our system to reaffirm what makes Yacht Controller the “most trusted product in the marine industry”.

    • Marc Curreri says:

      I’m going to spare the public a lengthy rebuttal on every point, however I cannot leave the comment above without a response.

      The Yacht Group has been flooding the internet with lies and opinions, NOT FACTS, referencing old and outdated information.

      If you needed additional proof of The Yacht Group’s repeated lies, Tony mentioned above that Dockmate has no certifications, well here is the FCC certification number, if anyone wants to research it for themselves. FCC# 2AQQATXDOCKMATE

      I would like to make a request to the public, please give Dockmate US a call or email and they will provide you with FACTUAL information and pictures of the equipment that will be installed on your boat .
      954-998-1430 or [email protected]

      Fair competition is healthy, so if you are comparing Dockmate to Yacht Controller, please call Dockmate and they will arrange for a Dockmate to be installed on your boat, at NO CHARGE, so you can experience the benefits of the product for yourself. If you like it, then you buy it.

  12. Jan-C. Ebert says:

    Another fact about Yacht Controller Remote Control . The US systems WiFi doesn’t work in Europe and vice versa.
    So if you plan going to Europe or the rest of the world or do want to travel the US, Bahamas etc. with your European Yacht Controller Remote System please be aware!

  13. Ian says:

    I am baffled by Mr Valentino’s comments. Mr Valentino knew at the very outset I have Twin Disk controls, why on earth did he accept my order if ‘this is not something Yacht Controller would undertake’.
    I did not demand that Yacht Controller modify the Twin Disk controls, I demanded Yacht Controller do as they promised and control the RPM (again, I have this promise in writing from Yacht Controller). I have never had any communication from Twin Disk on this or any other subject (no ‘direct written warning’). If it became apparent to Yacht Controller that they couldn’t technically deliver the goods why didn’t they simply admit it and refund my money? By the way, this opportunity is still available to them…..

  14. ronald parsons says:

    My name is Ron Parsons. I have read the posted blog. I will not speak about personalities or cast bad words regarding the authors above. I want to talk about the two wireless remote vessel controls and my experience with both controllers. I clearly prefer one system over the other and will explain why below. I have an extensive electrical and electronics engineering background. I’ve worked in the field of electronic transmission for 40 years. I have carefully studied and used the Yacht Controller product, the Dockmate product,as well as other products on the market. I currently operate two Yacht Controller systems and one Dockmate system. I just updated one of the single band systems by purchasing a new Yacht Controller dual band system from Tony at Yacht Controller.

    I have used both systems and prefer Yacht Controller over Dockmate for three reasons.
    1. The dual band (Yacht Controller) Vs single band frequency hopping (Dockmate)
    2. The ergonomic difference between the two hand held remote controls.
    3. The safety difference between the two hand held remote controls and the installation wiring.

    1. In my opinion the dual band is second to none. It’s like having two transmitters and two receivers at the same time. If you lose low-band at 433 megahertz there is a sister high band at 916megahertz. The problem with 433 megahertz is it is the most popular band for multiple levels of transmission. It is also a very narrow band. If you have transmission issues at 433 megahertz it’s irrelevant that you have frequency hopping within that very slim band. You will still end up with poor communication or worst-case no communication. The garage door opener in your vehicle operates off of 433 megahertz. You wouldn’t trust the safety of your family and motor yacht to your garage door opener control would you? The advantage of dual frequencies and dual transmitters and receivers, is the best of all worlds. If there is an issue on the primary 433 megahertz band the system is already broadcasting on 916 megahertz band. If the 433 megahertz band is weak or there is interference, the 916 megahertz band handles the commands. I have had failures on products that use the 433 megahertz band before, but have never had a failure on any vessel that I’ve operated with 433 and 916 (Dual Band).

    2. Also as another note the controller (remote control) that is used for Yacht Controller has raised small actuators on the remote control which are easy to operate even in the dark. I always know what actuator I am about to operate, even without looking at the remote. You can feel them and operate them safely. Dockmate has silicone key pad buttons that if you’re not looking at the controller you can’t see what system you are operating. (See Figure 1 below) I find myself feeling around for the correct silicone key pad buttons and then looking at the Dockmate controller to confirm that I have selected the correct silicone key pad buttons for the correct command. I have learned over time it is never good to take your eyes off the water in tight maneuvering situations. Yacht Controller is Superior in this realm.

    3. I would also like to discuss another major difference between Dockmate and Yacht Controller. Once Dockmate is activated the control of the vessel is handed to the Dockmate remote control. However, if someone activates helm control and shifts or applies throttle, the control of the vessel is immediately transferred back to the helm. With Yacht Controller, once Yacht Controller is activated the helm controls will no longer functioning. Moving of the shift and throttle levers has no ability to operate engines or transmissions. In order for helm control to reinitialize, the “Take Command” button must be activated on the helm control. Yacht Controller is actually another helm control on the boat and follows the protocols of taking control of the helm. Dockmate simply operates in conjunction with helm control and if helm control levers are moved the boat will respond to the helm control input.

    The major differences in these events are as follows. Yacht controller can only be deactivated when a helm control is activated using the “Take Command” process. This eliminates any unwanted control of the vessel. Dockmate is completely different. If someone inadvertently operates the helm throttles or transmissions, the control of the vessel is immediately transferred away from Dockmate and to helm control.

    Imagine this situation. You are out on the water for the day with your family. Your children have watched you operate the vessel many times from the helm. You are pulling into a crowded dock and activate Dockmate. You move to the back of the vessel for better sightlines and maneuverability of the vessel. As you are getting close, one of your young children jump into the helm seat to help daddy out. They move the throttles as they have seen their father do so many times. Unfortunately in this situation, the boat responds to the helm input and Dockmate no longer has control of the vessel. In this application the boat will follow the commands from the helm. If the child has placed the vessel in forward and moves the throttle to wide open, the boat will move forward at full throttle. That is a disastrous effect. Now let’s look at the same event with Yacht Controller. The Yacht Controller remote takes command of the vessel. The father is on the aft deck maneuvering the vessel. The child sits in the helm seat and moves the throttles to forward and then to wide open throttle position. Nothing happens in this situation and Yacht Controller is still in complete control of the vessel. This is a substantial difference in operation and a significant safety issue. Yacht Controller is truly an additional functioning helm and requires the protocol of “Take Command” to switch control of the vessel between Yacht Controller and the helm.

    I’ve had other Yacht Controllers and have had great success in the past with this product. I am constantly involved with other boaters on the dock and through my position at work, and have always recommended Yacht Controller.

    Lastly the service and commitment to customer Goodwill is second to none with Tony and his crew. They have bent over backwards to help me and other customers with simple questions and major updates. This is really an easy decision from an engineering standpoint, and an end-user standpoint, Yacht Controller is simply Superior. if you have any questions please feel free to give me a call.

  15. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    Ron,

    I’m glad you posted this because I it gives an opportunity to talk about some of the differences you bring up.

    First, I think trying to create a link between a garage door opener and Dockmate because they operate in the same frequency band is a false equivalency. Lots of devices operate in both the 433mhz and 900mhz frequency ranges, simply operating in those frequencies doesn’t make the technology the same. Both Dockmate and Yacht Controller use technology to work through any interference issues. I have a good deal of confidence in Dockmate’s frequency hopping, bi-directional approach, just as I do in Yacht Controller’s two frequency transmit only approach. Dockmate uses a technology in which they utilize multiple channels within their frequency allocation to minimize the impact of interference. Yacht Controller uses two different frequency bands to minimize the effect of interference. But, a further differentiation is that (to the best of my understanding and reading of both companies’ information) the Yacht Controller remote is transmit only, so it sends a command out and doesn’t know if the receiver has received it. Dockmate’s remotes are two directional, so they send a command to the control box and receive an acknowledgment when the command is received by the control box. That’s nice piece of mind for me. As I look at those two options I prefer Dockmate’s approach, the fact that the remote in my hand will tell me (by beeping) if the commands aren’t being acknowldged is big peace of mind.

    I haven’t had the opportunity yet to test a Yacht Controller on my boat but I’m working with Yacht Group on making that happen. So, I can only comment on my Dockmate experience, which has been flawless so far. I’ve not had a single instance of commands going unreceived.

    I think you’re right that the raised actuators on the Yacht Controller remotes are a little easier to use than the membrane switches on the Dockmate remotes. But, there’s also the Twist from Dockmate and the Fusion and Fusion Plus from Yacht Controller. Both are joystick style remotes that sit on a more level playing field in terms of control inputs. I don’t have access to sales figures for either company but would imagine that the joystick products are probably the volume leaders as that’s the movement industry wide.

    Lastly, your point about the safety of an active or in-active helm cuts both ways. I travel with my now 9 and 12 year old aboard. They’ve been on the boat since they were days old and we’ve talked a lot about the dangers of even an inactive helm station underway, so they’re well briefed on staying away. I much prefer the approach that has the control station stay active while the remote is active. My children already know to keep clear of the helm, both because pressing something could be dangerous and because I need access to the helm as I transition from remote to helm control, so I like the safety of knowing that if I have an issue with a remote I have a live helm station to fall back on.

    In the ened I think both products are strong and I don’t think that one has to be better than the other. I’ve been frustrated by the amount of rhetoric and fear that’s been used to try and put down a competitor’s product and I really wish we could move past that.

    Ben

  16. Ben,

    Thanks for your comments and further to your last point, I can assure you that Dockmate has tried incredibly hard to take the “high road” and maintain a respectable degree of professionalism during this competitive situation with Yacht Controller.

    At present, Yacht Controller has published two separate web sites and a 17 point document that are intended to disparage our product and drive away potential customers. We have completely refuted each one of these points on our home page (https://dockmate.us) with clear text and video evidence which will prove that they are not only inaccurate, but nonsensical as well.

    These tactics are certainly unprecedented in the boating industry (and for that matter, in all others as well), since reputable companies are typically much more inclined to promote the positive advantages of their product vs. denigrating a competitor with negative hit pieces of easily-disproven and false information.

    As a consumer, I would have to ask this question: “If a long and well-established company with high integrity truly represented a quality product, then would they have a need to, or resort to, attacking a competitor in such a manner?”

    The comparison information that we have published has been in response to these unscrupulous attacks. Ben, I can also assure you that it has taken incredible patience and restraint for us to not respond in kind, but only with factual information that we have at the ready which would be very harmful to them.

    As a reminder, we were a long-time Yacht Controller dealer, as were several other new Dockmate dealers, so we are all intimately knowledgeable of the differences. As one former Yacht Controller dealer, New England Bow Thruster, concisely stated: “Dockmate offers better technology and at a much better price.”

    We are very confident that boaters will realize the same, and our CEO’s “no risk” offer in a previous post is indicative of our strong, core belief.

    Best regards,
    Brian

  17. Dave says:

    Great idea. I do a lot of motor yacht training, it would be nice to be able to override the yachts controls via a remote, even if to just put the engines in neutral. But I suspect that this only allows one active station at a time. Great idea though!

  18. Rick says:

    As soon as I get my newest boat settled I am going to check both systems. New boat is 60′ with ZF Commanders as well as Side Power bow and stern thrusters. Hopefully it’s a perfect candidate for plug and play remote control.

  1. April 3, 2019

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