Tales from the Transom: Stern Steering in Kyuquot
Guides in Kyuquot Beach House boats live in the stern. Facing their stern, facing clients, able to engage in face-to-face conversation while staying in complete control of the fishing gear is something none of the guides could envision being without.
Years ago, whilst viewing a commercial troller, I thought the very complicated fishing procedure of fishing 6 lines and 100 hooks and navigating the vessel by one man had to be taken to the recreational sector. Working out of my first cruiser I was dealing with a few issues that really grated on me. My history of fishing to that juncture was in small open runabouts with tiller single tiller steering. As a guide, I was always in charge of the speed and direction of the boat. In particular, when a fish was on and an inexperienced angler was having difficulty, the ability to assist was huge. But when I stepped into a historic cruiser with an inboard/outboard everything changed.
Walking around the "box" engine cover and walking back and forth to the helm was a task in itself. Try then to incorporate a kicker motor with forward controls, and soon one's effectiveness as a guide diminishes. When a fish is on, the first inclination is to jump up and stand and play the fish. After a season of using controls at the forward helm, one wishes that he had a dollar for every time one said "excuse me" getting to stern to handle the kicker or to prepare to net a fish. Sure, fishing in a recreational 22 footer was not so difficult, but the inability to get to the kicker when a fish was on (anglers standing) was frustrating and ineffective. The first step to solving this problem was to install a hydraulic steering system.
The most common system is Teleflex Seastar. The system is not inexpensive but it is very well made and trouble free. With a hydraulic system there is the ability to tie is another station. This is where the stern steering station comes in. This is common in larger craft but rare in a factory install in smaller craft. With the kicker tied into the main steering system and linked to the main, both motors can be steered from the stern station. Refinement for controls for the kicker is another story! Running the boat completely from the stern is fantastic to say the least; I can not envision a boat without stern steering now.
As it is a custom install I don't know of any businesses that do this work specifically. After having installed six systems I have refined my approach to best utilize the various products Teleflex sells. Figuring out the best 9.9 Yamaha and how to tie it into the system is another topic, as is the pod or transom configuration. Let's go fishing! -Mike