Recently, Volvo Penta invited Salt Water Sportsman’s Senior Editor Karl Anderson to witness an exclusive test of a completely new propulsion system. The invitation came with scant details about something called the IPS Inboard Propulsion System, so Anderson leapt at the chance.
The IPS system does not have shafts, struts or conventional rudders. Two Volvo Penta diesels are positioned aft in the boat, under the cockpit sole in this case, which frees up what has typically been engine-room space. The IPS units are attached directly to the engines and protrude through the hull. They are mounted to the boat bottom with huge watertight gasketed flanges. These drive units basically swivel to turn the boat, eliminating the need for rudders. The system uses the push and pull of the counter-rotating propellers of each unit to maneuver the boat.
I had a two-day stint aboard the boat. Steering was exceptional and maneuverability was razor sharp when the wheel was used in conjunction with the controls. Our test boat had Volvo’s single-lever electronic controls, which I found very easy to use. The boat could spin well within its own length, back around as if winding through a slalom course – even crab sideways. The boat accelerated to plane in half the time of a similarly powered rig with standard propulsion.
I’ll be fishing on a boat with the IPS system soon and I can’t wait to test the maneuverability of the system in real fishing situations. I’ll keep you posted. – Karl Anderson