Jet Boat Reverse
Over the years the subject of maneuvering a jet boat around a dock, near other boats and when trailer loading has been brought up so many times it has become somewhat comical! Most that bring the question up have either heard negative things about a jet boat’s ability to maneuver in these scenarios or have experienced the difficulty first hand on older jet boat models. To have a proper discussion about maneuvering a jet boat at slow speeds you have to also include the jet boat’s reverse maneuverability. Reverse maneuverability is equally as important as forward maneuverability so during this blog post we’re going to discuss some of the typical issues encountered when operating in reverse and then we’ll help to assist you with information on how much reverse maneuverability has improved over the years with the introduction of JetBoatPilot’s Patented Lateral Thruster, Yamaha’s new Patented V-Bucket Nozzle and BRP’s Lateral Thrust Reverse Buckets.
It is not a stretch to say that attempting to maneuver a Yamaha jet boat in reverse was a challenge for many owners from 1996 to 2018. The reason for this less than optimal reverse control was due to the design of the reverse outlet on the underside of the deflector nozzle. To get a better idea of how this system works check out this video here or refer to the image below.
To create reverse thrust in a Yamaha jet boat the powertrain designers were not required to integrate a transmission into the drive train like on stern drive or outboard drivelines. Instead of having to slow the motor, find neutral, wait a second while disengaging from forward direction and then reengaging into reverse direction, the designers created a much less technical and much less costly way to move the boat rearward. By simply adding a pivoting reverse hood over the forward thrust outlet of the deflector nozzle and then adding a reverse outlet on the underside of the deflector nozzle, powerful reverse thrust was added. This design gave the operator the ability to rapidly shift from forward to reverse. This is very helpful if you need to slow down or make quick changes in direction when maneuvering in tight quarters. Another major benefit to this style of reverse system was the fact that the boat would maneuver in reverse just like your car, your truck, your sterndrive or your outboard powered boat. You did not have to learn a new way to drive your jet boat when driving a Yamaha jet boat.
The downside to this style of reverse system was the fact that the thrust while in reverse was mostly directed under the boat and not towards the sides of the boat (laterally), resulting in less than optimal ability to control the direction of the stern’s movement.
In the early days the simple centerline reverse outlet was more than sufficient to satisfy the boaters of that day. But, with the addition of larger boats with more freeboard (vertical height off the water’s surface) and the addition of competition in the marketplace, the Yamaha jet boat reverse system began to be asked to do more. Designers from two companies began to work on a solution that retained all the positives of the existing system plus added significant improvements in controlling the stern in a more lateral direction.
Introduction Of Lateral Thruster
JetBoatPilot released the Lateral Thruster in late 2017. Lateral Thruster is a bolt on accessory that attaches to the underside of any Yamaha Jet Boat nozzle and dramatically improves the reverse control while maintaining the other benefits of strong reverse thrust and intuitive handling. It also works in tandem with other steering enhancements like Thrust Vector X and Thrust Vector Wake.
Lateral Thruster is a simple product without the need of any moving parts. It works as a stationary deflector and is able to receive up to 1/3rd of the reverse thrust from the factory nozzle and bends it from a downward angle to a lateral angle. This lateral thrust, combined with the remaining downward thrust, gives users the best of both worlds. Tons of stopping power and tons of reverse control. Due to the fact that there are no moving parts and that it’s made from solid cast aluminum, reliability and dependability are maximized and JetBoatPilot even includes a limited lifetime warranty on each set sold.
Three great advantages are found when considering a set of Lateral Thrusters. These are precision, superiority to other reverse systems and finally price.
First, precision is found in the designer’s choice to port only a portion of the reverse thrust laterally. Had the designers chosen to port most of the reverse thrust laterally the boat would have performed like most PWC’s and all BRP powered jet boats, which is to say there would have been too much lateral thrust which leads to user’s feeling intimidated while in reverse and unable to maneuver with confidence. Too much thrust is just as bad as too little when it comes to parking your new $40000-$70000 toy at the dock and doing it while others are watching does not make things any easier. What is needed is just enough lateral thrust, which is what JetBoatPilot designers painstakingly achieved in the production version of the Lateral Thruster.
In order to understand the second advantage you must first know of a shortcomings of traditional stern driven boat’s and outboard powered boat’s reverse systems. Anyone that has ever tried to back up a prop driven boat will tell you that the reverse will be more favorable when the wheel is turned one direction as compared to the opposite direction. This is due to the rotation of the blade and the counter rotation of the engine. When the engine turns it creates a certain amount of yaw effect on the boat and as a result the boat wants to begin moving in one direction. When you attempt to reverse the boat in the direction of the yaw the control is significantly better than when attempting the same maneuver against the yaw.
The second advantage of operating a Yamaha Jet Boat with equipped with Thrust Vectors is the fact that you are provided with precision control when backing the boat in either direction. The yaw effect does not impact the turn opposite the yaw. You’ll experience confidence inspiring precision maneuverability while docking, backing or maneuvering around other boats.
Lastly, the third advantage found when ordering a Lateral Thruster is found in price! With a price of $200 per engine the Lateral Thruster is a fraction of what other systems on the market are currently priced at, including the new system from Yamaha. You can install the Lateral Thruster yourself by following along with the step by step installation video and save even more money as compared to having your local dealer install. Anticipate about 30-45 minutes for the install depending on your mechanical ability.
Introduction Of Yamaha’s V-Bucket Deflector Nozzle
A few years ago Yamaha engineers began work on what is now referred to as the V-Bucket deflector nozzle. Introduced in 2019 and now standard equipment on all 2019 and newer Yamaha jet boats this V-Bucket style deflector nozzle still provides tons of power in reverse to slow or stop the boat’s forward movement. Additionally the v-shaped reverse thrust outlet retains the intuitiveness of the original system. Said another way, the new system still drives like your car. You don’t have to relearn a new way to steer your Yamaha boat. It is easy and anyone can do it very quickly. The advancement that Yamaha made was achieved by porting the reverse thrust downward and laterally at the same time. Directional control is moved from barely there to a near the same levels you’d experience while driving your car. This allows for a much improved user experience and for a much greater level of confidence not only for the primary driver but also anyone else who may want to drive too.
Many have asked will this new system be retro-fitable on older Yamaha boat models and the answer is yes the new can be added to the old. But, as mentioned earlier in this article there are less costly and more effective alternatives available in the aftermarket.
BRP Reverse System
This blog post would not be complete without drawing a contrast between Yamaha jet boat reverse characteristics and BRP powered boat’s reverse characteristics. To clarify, every non-Yamaha jet boat maker in the market today purchases powertrains from BRP, the parent company of Sea-Doo. In 2012 Sea-Doo got out of the Jet Boat Business and now is in the engine business in addition to their popular line of personal watercraft. In addition to Yamaha there are 2 other jet boat manufacturers in the U.S. who build boats in the sport runabout/bowrider category. These boats include Scarab, Chaparral Vortex.
So what’s the difference between a Yamaha and a BRP reverse system. Well, there’s lots! First the BRP system ports exiting jet thrust mostly laterally and slightly forward which creates monstrous amounts of lateral control but minimal amounts of reversing power. Basically you can turn well but compromise some stopping power in favor of lateral control. As a matter of fact, due to the massive amounts of lateral control designers at BRP had to create a special “Docking Mode” feature into the helm controls in order to prevent users from getting out of control while maneuvering around docks and other boats. This “Docking Mode” feature basically limited the amount of throttle available to the user when active and thus made the lateral control less aggressive and less intimidating.
Second, the BRP system is basically a replica of the reverse system from most PWC’s, not a surprise from a PWC manufacturer and most likely the company that came up with the tech in the first place. PWC reverse systems have long been a source of frustration for riders who turn the handlebars in one direction yet get the opposite response from the stern while in reverse. This counterintuitive method of operation is the same on BRP powered boats. You must relearn how to drive the boat once you’ve bought it and brought it home. This takes time and though not hard to learn, it takes more seat time to become proficient than with more intuitive systems like the Lateral Thruster or the Yamaha V-Bucket system.
Third, the BRP reverse hood or hoods are mounted on a fixed mount bracket and separate from the boat’s deflector nozzle. When actuating the reverse hood the user is required to depress a thumb switch which allows the driver to select forward or reverse. The requirement to use this thumb switch causes some hesitation or delay in the ability to move the throttle from the forward position to the reverse position. Don’t misunderstand me on this. I am not implying that it is hard to move the throttle lever from forward to reverse but I am saying that it is not as simple or as fast as when using throttle levers which do not feature the thumb switch, which I feel is an advantage from the user’s perspective.
If you’ve heard that jet boats don’t maneuver well at slow speeds we encourage you to do your homework! Tons of advancements have been made over the years and with the introduction of these new lateral style reverse systems modern jet boats are not just supremely maneuverable at high speeds, they’re supremely maneuverable at all speeds, making Jet Boats “THE MOST MANEUVERABLE BOATS IN THE WORLD!”
Learn more about ways to enhance your jet boat’s steering here: THRUST VECTORS