Optimus 360 blog by Melissa Norris
Photos and video courtesy of Ashbreez Boatworks
Optimus 360 Joystick and the Optimus Electronic Power System with SeaStation (GPS anchor)
Optimus 360 is an intuitive joystick control that allows you to confidently move your boat forward, backward, sideways or even all at once seamlessly. Paired with the Optimus Electronic Power System, it performs even in weather conditions like high winds and big tides. It especially excels during low speed maneuvering like a docking situation. Regular saltwater boat captains have experienced being at the helm in a crowded marina on high alert. Hitting something can mean big bucks and seriously ruined days. In extreme cases, it can even be deadly. As an answer to this longtime problem, Seastar Solutions created a control system for boaters to improve boat maneuverability. And there are several accessories to pair with the Optimus 360 for saltwater fishing enthusiasts to note.
Seastar Solutions became part of the Dometic Group several years ago and the system is now named the Dometic Optimus Electronic Power System. This system is retrofittable with twin, triple and quad engine applications, so you don’t have to get a new vessel to utilize it. Ashbreez Boatworks in Anchorage has been actively adding these systems to upgrade their customers’ boats. With its ability to work with 3rd party autopilots and customize it for the user, Optimus will quickly become a favorite feature on your vessel. And you can add a whole new level of control with the Optimus 360 joystick.
We caught up with Joel Morse, who is the son in the father-and-son team that owns Ashbreez Boatworks in Anchorage, and also a serious technical guru. He shared his experiences with this system, including adding one to their boat for demonstration purposes, and Joel likely has more experience than anyone else in Alaska retrofitting boats with the Optimus 360.
The Morse family also loves to fish so Joel was especially excited about some of the add on options like the Dometic SeaStation. A favorite way Joel likes to use this function is during anchoring. This system allows you to choose from position hold or heading hold, which, when engaged at the same time, is a GPS anchor. You can position right over a spot you want to fish, engage both systems to get your anchor down in the exact position you want without drifting off the spot, then you just turn the system off. You can also fish over or next to a pinnacle you want to target and maintain position. The system is also proving effective for photographing wildlife and for spotting animals for hunters since you can hold your boat position.
Joel also shared that Dometic just came out with the new SeaStar Outboard E-Actuator available now for outboards. This electric actuator that is completely steered by wire was developed exclusively to use with the Optimus Joystick and Electronic Power Steering systems by Dometic. You have true electronic power steering all the time with no effort. You can customize the settings for different applications and the system totally eliminates the hydraulics in your steering. Joel really likes this option because of the ongoing maintenance that hydraulic systems often require. Additionally, with this new system and the E-Actuator, there is less fatigue on the captain when boating long distances.
Joel was quick to point out that there are alternatives within the setup so it’s not just relying on one wire. There’s a failsafe in the unlikely event something fails. There are ways to manually open up the steering cylinders to position them how you need them. And there is always a limp home mode if something important were to fail. Again it’s not very likely due to the intentional redundancy in the systems, but it’s nice to have the safety net there.
Chad and Joel were happy to share their videos of the Optimus 360 in action, along with some of the add on features by Dometic. Interested boat owners often ask “does it really work like the videos?” Joel says “Yes, it really does”. You can literally come up to your dock perpendicular, spin on a dime parallel and back right in. They are pleased to have a demo boat featuring the system so that folks wanting to invest that kind of dollar can see it at work.
So exactly how much does this system cost? Well, like most things retrofitted in boating, it’s a custom job to your vessel. You need to contact Chad and Joel for a quote based on your boat specs, but they shared that the average cost so far has been in the high teens.
With the Optimus 360, boaters can rest assured that the ease of navigating in tight and busy areas will bring a sense of relief. The Optimus EPS Electronic Helm, Optimus SmartCylinder, Optimus Hydraulic Steering Pump, Optimus CANtrak Display, Optimus Pump Control Module come together around the Optimus 360 Joystick. This joystick feels like an extension of your hand because of the progressive throttling. Cruising around the harbor feels a lot safer as you can now make more precise moves at the right moments. The Optimus 360 system can work with your autopilot system. No need to reinvent the wheel. You can just improve it.
Joel says people that see him using it are in awe. You can pull up next to a buddy in a cove. If they are swinging on their anchor, you can literally swing with them and dock to them. That sounds pretty sweet.
This system can do more than improve your mobility; it can enhance the whole experience by taking away the day’s beginning and ending stresses and improve your fishing opportunities. To find out more about the Dometic Optimus 360 system, please visit Dometic.