THE FIRST WITH AXIUS
While Axius has been around since 2006, until now no boatbuilder has fitted Mercury’s unique steering and manoeuvring system to a twin diesel sterndrive boat. Due to the space available in the engine room, the 4000 cannot be fitted with the Zeus pod drive, so Axius is certainly the obvious choice.
“We are always being asked about Zeus, but until Axius came along we really didn’t have any answer”, said David Larsen, managing director of Rayglass Boats.
“What Axius offers our clients is everything that they want from a pod drive system, but in a simple and extremely effective package”.
Axius is the sterndrive’s equivalent of the Zeus pod drives and in fact apart from the drive system, everything else is the same.
Axius doesn’t use pods, rather the system controls each lower unit independently through a complex software program that translates simple moves of a joystick to boat movement. No boat hull modification is necessary for Axius installation, which allowed Rayglass to simply install the engine, lower units, and joystick system without making any hull changes.
Axius is a sterndrive package that uses twin, individually articulating MerCruiser Bravo Three sterndrives without the use of a tie bar. Axius is designed to solve one of boating’s biggest challenges – docking. The Axius control system is a twin-engine sterndrive application that allows each to move independent of each other, providing precise handling through joystick functionality. The twin independently articulating MerCruiser Bravo Three sterndrives are coupled to Digital Throttle and Shift (DTS) and an electronic/hydraulic steering system.
The Axius control system allows 360 degrees of movement and is controlled by a joystick. The joystick responds to both the direction and pressure applied for proportional control over thrust from idle to speeds up to 7 knots. This means that a small movement of the joystick equals a small increase in thrust.
When engaging in the Axius Docking Mode, the authority of the joystick is reduced in half for a more refined touch when docking under various conditions. This means the joystick has twice the resolution, preventing the operator from overcompensating or moving the joystick too far. This feature certainly helps if you are not familiar with the system.
Our Rayglass 4000 moved precisely and effortlessly in any direction – laterally, at an angle, forward, backward and even turning in a circle on its axis – all with a simple touch of the joystick.
I found that it didn’t take much to get used to the docking mode and I had the Rayglass 4000 slipping effortlessly out of the dock and sideways down the fairway. Using the joystick only to control the boat’s direction we then cruised across to the fuelling jetty and again slid the boat in sideways with relative ease.
The Bravo legs turn up to 26 degrees either side, which is the same as they would without Axius – it’s just that they can now operate independently and in fact be totally opposing each other either way, depending on the movement requirements of the boat.
The 50th Rayglass 4000 was also equipped with Axius Plus Piloting features, which comprises VesselView, Auto Heading and Auto Yaw.
VesselView displays a variety of vessel and engine information with the push of a button. It provides a digital display of engine and boat functions plus temperatures, and the Cruise Control function lets you hold a selected cruise speed precisely. The Touch Pad Troll control reduces engine RPM for trolling or operating in no-wake zones. Auto Heading allows the skipper to maintain course and make precise corrections easily and with minimal effort. You may choose a heading and lock it in via the touch of a button on the Axius CAN control pad.
The pad also allows you to vary the course port or starboard by using the arrow keys. The course will change by 10 degrees per tap. When Auto Heading is enabled, the joystick functions as another method of correcting course, but in 1-degree increments. Auto Heading can be quickly disabled through the CAN (controller area network) pad or by simply turning the steering wheel.
Although not fitted to our Rayglass 4000, Axius is also available with ‘Skyhook’. Skyhook is a station-keeping function where with the simple press of a button, the vessel will maintain both the position and heading at the moment of engagement, even in the presence of wind and current. The feature allows you to stay directly on top of a preferred fishing spot and all without constantly working the wheel and throttles.
Advanced Auto Yaw Control uses the integrated GPS and electronic compass, which accurately holds the bow of the boat at a precise heading, regardless of conditions. This feature is especially useful when executing lateral movements, such as moving away parallel from a fuel dock. This feature reduces the amount of twisting required on the joystick.
If no one had told me otherwise, I would have imagined the Rayglass 4000 was fitted with pod drives – the Axius system fitted to the sterndrives is that good!
Our Rayglass 4000 was powered by the standard Cummins QSD 4.2 MerCruiser 320 hp engines, although Axius is available with engine models (diesel or petrol) ranging from 260 to 425 horsepower, all coupled to Bravo Three sterndrives.
According to Mercury retrofitting Axius to an existing boat with the same drive package is not economically viable. You are better off doing a complete repower with the Axius Cummins MerCruiser package. With the Axius option the Rayglass 4000 price increased by $NZ28,000 over the non-Axius option, but there was the savings benefit of neither a bow thruster nor an autopilot being necessary.
The Rayglass 4000 was first released in mid 2005 at the New Zealand Boat Show and was an instant success. It not only won an award for the Launch of the Show, but sales were immediate and Rayglass Boats went straight into a production schedule of a boat a month. Whilst that has slowed due to the economic crisis, 2010 still saw steady sales and a definite increase in interest in the last quarter.
While there has always been an option of engine choices, both in brand and horsepower, predominately all have been powered by Cummins QSD 4.2, 320hp MerCruiser diesels. The twin 320hp diesels are good for 39knots and the upgrade to the twin 350hp diesels jumps that to around 41knots. A comfortable cruising speed in the right conditions for the 4000 is around 26-28knots which is high for any boat of this size.
The layout has changed very little since boat #1. There have been a few variations on accommodation plans, but otherwise everything has remained the same. The 4000’s layout emphasis is on indoor-outdoor flow, with the option of saloon doors for extra security. The cockpit and saloon flow into one another, with the functional but compact galley aft. There’s no saloon table, but a folding table and deck chairs allow alfresco dining in the cockpit in good weather.
On the transom an outdoor galley features a good quality, all-stainless, three-burner barbecue and a moulded basin with pull-out fresh and saltwater wash down / shower. The two-person helm seat folds forward, greatly extending the galley’s usable bench space. In the upper saloon, there is a port side wraparound settee .
Down the companionway steps there’s a leather settee in the mid-cabin facing the boat’s generous, fully moulded head/shower. A double berth is at floor level to port, extending under the saloon sole, quarter berth-style, and the master cabin to starboard. The master cabin’s double berth extends across the boat under the saloon, also at floor level.
Up in the separate fore cabin, two staggered, single V-berths make up the remainder of the boat’s dedicated sleeping accommodation Settees in the mid-cabin and saloon can serve as extra berths.
The Rayglass 4000 has been New Zealand’s most popular locally built 12m-production boat for a number of years and looks like remaining so for many more.
- Designer: Tony Hembrow
- bRayglass Boats
- LOA: 12.5m
- Beam: 3.81m
- Displacement: 7500 kgs (est)
- Max Speed: 39 knots
- Construction: GRP
- Fuel Cap: 1000 litres
- Water Cap: 500 litres
- Engine Make: Cummins QSD 4.2, 320hp MerCruiser
- Drive Train: Mercruiser Bravo 3