MerCruiser Axius Premier, skyhooked
Finessing the MerCruiser Axius joystick is Amanda Marsten, who probably never foresaw this as part of her gig at the PR firm Rushton Gregory. But she brought the perfect blend of boating inexperience and a light touch to the job, and in truth handled the Sea Ray more deftly than some of us old coots who were aboard for the FLIBS demo. Close quarters maneuvering with Axius is truly intuitive, even when you face aft, and switching from regular controls to joystick is as simple as putting the shifts in neutral and grabbing the stick (or vice versa). But this, mind you, was not just the Axius control system Mercury introduced last February, but rather the new Premier version (which so far is pretty invisible online)…
Axius Premier brings most all the features of the Zeus pod drive system to dual sterndrives, including “Skyhook” dynamic positioning. Push the button on the Premier control pad (below) and Axius automatically uses independent shifts, throttles, and drive angles—plus its GPS and IMU compass—to maintain boat position and heading. It worked OK in about a knot of current and 12 knots of wind, though there was more transmission clunking and engine revving than I recall during my 2006 Zeus demo. Then again, Axius doesn’t require a hull redesign or use a subscription high precision GPS service.
Axius Premier also includes auto pilot and auto heading functions, and only adds an extra $20–25,000 to the price of the new 25–40 foot boats it’s designed for. (Of course that market is a little off right now, as evidenced by yesterday’s MarineMax announcement). Note that MadMariner’s Tom Tripp also wrote up the Axius demo and Boating did a video.