Do you really need massaging, heated seats in your car or a voice-controlled home? No, but they sure can make life a lot more enjoyable.
A second helm on your boat is no different, according to Peter Miller, Mercury Pro Team member and host of the television show “Uncharted Waters.” Whether you call it a second helm, second station, upper helm or “the tower” (arguably the coolest name), the higher, second driving station offers some serious perks for anglers. The elevated position makes it easier to spot fish, bait schools, structure and crashing birds. Miller even uses it to spy lobsters on family outings.
That said, it also requires some extra safety precautions.
First and foremost, Miller always has the basics covered:
- Life jacket on
- Lanyard connected
- Emergency stop switch engaged
From there, safety really comes into play in terms of how and when you drive from the second helm.
For instance, Miller’s 37-foot Invincible Catamaran with quad Mercury 400hp Verado® outboards will go 70 knots, but he comes nowhere close to that when driving from the second helm. Instead, he says you should stay at 30 knots (about 34 mph) and slower to ensure a smooth, safe ride.
He generally only allows one additional passenger with him at the second helm. A third can get up there, but two is usually best to give the driver enough room to keep a steady base and firm grip on the wheel and throttle at all times.
Then there’s rough water.
“There are days you don’t want to be up there,” cautions Miller about any seas with 3-foot waves or more. “It’s a pendulum effect. The higher you are, the more you rock. So, I’ll go up and see, but if I’m getting banged around, it’s best to drive from the lower helm.”
With those precautions in place, though, a second helm for Miller truly becomes a “must-have,” because, like those massaging, heated car seats, once you have it, you won’t ever want to go without it.