Over the last five or six years, Pod Drive Propulsion Systems have evolved from novel engineering concepts to marine industry game changers.
Though pod drives have long been used for cruise ships, ferries and tugboats, their evolution and recent impact has occurred in the pleasure boat industry. They’ve quickly replaced traditional shaft drive systems as the standard option on many small and mid-size cruising boats.
Now they are finding applications in larger sport fishing boats and larger production boats in the 50′ to 80+’ range. It won’t be too long before advancements in horsepower allow for pods to be used in motoryachts in the 80′ to 150′ range; they’re already found on many larger catamarans.
Maneuverability alone makes them a worthwhile consideration for many owners and builders. But Pod drive systems offer many other benefits including fuel efficiency, less space requirements within the engine room, tracking, turning control and better cruising range. Note that some of those benefits are dependent on boat design, use and associated engineering.
To get a real sense of the pros and cons of maintenance, usability and maneuverability with pod drive systems on mid-size motoryachts, read Beyond The Hype from Yachting Magazine or Pushing The Limits Of Joysticks and Pod-Drives.
One thing that has really driven change over the last few years is the market. Owners who have enjoyed the benefits of pod drives on smaller vessels are pushing to have pods installed on other boats, specifically the larger sport fishing boats and semi-custom production yachts.
In North Carolina, many of the old school sport fishing boat builders who initially shied away from the pods due to the perceived negative impact on fishing, have started incorporating pods into their designs. Their customers want the ease of use and performance of the pods and are willing to overlook some of the downsides of pod systems. Spencer Yachts is one example of the change within the industry. Their 70′ Penta Gone shows just how valuable the new drive systems are and how the pods can be incorporated into boat designs. You can now find pod drive systems available on many other top-of-the-line sport fishing models from builders including Freedom Boatworks, Jarret Bay and Viking Yachts.
If pods can be adapted into the design of a 70′ fishing yacht or used on tugs and cruise ships, it won’t be too long before larger luxury yachts incorporate them as well. Eventually advancements in engineering will provide the horsepower needed. Some builders, like Lazzara Yachts, have had pods on the radar for quite some time (read Pod Systems Are The Future by Lazzara Yachts).
For more information about pod drives and how to incorporate them within your vessel design, please contact Nick Boksa at www.boksamarinedesign.com