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Volvo Penta IPS Drives
on the 70' boat
"the maneuverability of the IPS drives made the large boat seem remarkably nimble"
text: By Dale Wills
In December I had the opportunity to go fishing as a guest of John Garvey from Volvo Penta on the new 70-foot Spencer, Penta Gone. The boat is equipped with state of the art triple Volvo IPS drives.I was anxious to see for myself the capabilities of the technology, which John informed me Volvo has been working on for over 24 years.
After a quick meet and greet of the crew and a tour of the boat, with a coffee in hand I watched from the cockpit as we eased out of the slip. I realized immediately the Penta Gone didn't squat down when each engine was engaged navigating out of the narrow slip, nor was there the distinct rumble and vibration of a conventional shaft and wheel put into gear.
With just several feet of clearance on cither end, the Spencer spun slowly and effortlessly with a gentle twist of the joystick control. We idled out into the Intracoastal and within minutes Capt. Szilagyi hailed the PGA bridge requesting an opening. We ended up waiting about 15 minutes but during the time Capt. Szilagyi engaged the Dynamic Positioning System, reclined in the captains chair and relaxed as the boat automatically held its posi- tion. I watched the instrument panel showing the RPM gauges fluttering while the angle of each IPS drive rotated slowly via the display. We finally made it to the Lake Worth Inlet and Capt. Szilagyi pushed the throttles up to 2200 RPMs, yielding a cruising speed of 32 knots. The fuel consumption was approximately 94 gallons per hour as we made our way north up the beach.
Gone is equipped with video cameras under the bottom focused directly on each IPS drive, with video feeds displayed on the salon TV and also via monitors in the cockpit. For the first time ever I was able to watch the propellers turning up on a boat in real-time. I found myself mesmerized by the display showing the spinning counter rotating propellers leaving a plume of whitcwatcr, which resembled a small smoke trail from each IPS unit. With the IPS drives facing forward, I got a clear understanding of how efficient the technology is with clean water entering the wheels. Understandably, the question of hitting something with the wheels facing forward will always be a concern, but then again, hitting anything on your wheels is. Fortunately with the IPS system, the wheels are not gigantic and easily changed with one nut on the hub. Soon we arrived at our fishing destination just north of the Stuart LORAN tower.
We deployed our naked ballyhoo spread and a couple of dredges, and Capt. Szilagyi put the triple IPS drives into Sportfish Mode as we trolled just below five knots. Sportfish Mode automatically toes the outboard drives outward for maximum performance when backing and turning on a fish.
A short while later, a couple of sails entered the spread and we were hooked up. Capt. Szilagyi did a nice job easing back on the fish and soon both were released. When we did back down, the maneuverability of the IPS drives made the 70-footer seem remarkably nimble. One of the fish jumped away from the boat directly off the starboard side and the IPS all but kept up with the jumping sailfish. Until you have the opportunity of fishing on an IPS equipped boat, it's hard to describe in words the sideways movement the IPS drives moved the Penta Cone. Another thing I noticed when backing was the boat didn't squat down. The angle of the pods certainly increases response time when you get on the throttles in reverse and without a doubt it's a backlash saver.
We finished up the day going four for eight on sails with a few nice dolphin thrown in for good measure before making our way back to the dock around mid-afternoon. The crew tied her up and after saying my thank you and good-byes, I walked past the transom and realized I never smelled exhaust fumes all day and the transom didn't have an ounce of soot. I was impressed and definitely see pod drives growing in popularity. If you have any questions about them, ask the boys over at Volvo they'll be happy to arrange a ride!