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Olivia Hudak

By: Olivia Hudak on March 17th, 2023

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Understanding the Barletta Helm

Barletta pontoon boats are known for several things and having one of the most advanced well-designed helms in the industry is one of them. The second you sit in the captain’s chair, you can feel a difference with the ergonomically designed helm.


From the Aria to the Reserve, the boat is centered around comfort and convenience. That starts with creating the ultimate driving experience for the captain. Once you sit behind the wheel of a Barletta or spend a day on the water, you will understand how important the helm design is.


Aside from the layout of the boat, the helm found on every single Barletta is special. They differ slightly between series, but all have the same Barletta DNA that makes these boats unlike any other. Here’s a look at what makes the Barletta helm the most elite helm in the game.


The Layout of the Helm

The layout of the helm is very important to anyone who plans to drive the boat. The helm found on every Barletta is built with the same ergonomic and functional design. When you sit in a Barletta, you will notice that it’s very comfortable and the placement of every button and switch is well thought out.


The location of the captain’s chair coupled with the extensive amount of legroom in front of the chair allows for nearly anyone to stretch out while driving. The wheel is positioned directly in front of the chair and can be manipulated to the driver’s preference.


The placement of the throttle is also worth acknowledging. It is comfortably located on the right side of the captain’s seat. It also sits down a bit to make it comfortable and easy to use while you are driving your boat. 


One important feature found on most Barletta’s is the glove box. These storage areas are perfect for phones, wallets, and other important items you want to keep dry. The Aria is the only Barletta without a glove box. The Cabrio has a glove box located directly in front of the captain’s knees. The Corsa, Lusso, and Reserve models have glove boxes on the side of the helm. 


Something about the dash that stays constant throughout most (not all) of the Barletta models is the gauges. The gauges found on every Barletta show the RPMs, the speed, and the fuel level of the boat. All the important information can be found here. 


Moving to the base of the helm, in every single Barletta that comes off the line you will find built-in pet dishes. These are a huge convenience for those who boat with pets. Since they are built into the helm, if you don’t care for the dishes, you never have to worry about them getting in the way. 


The other features found on the dash are determined by the series. Throughout the different Barletta series, the dash will look slightly different



The Aria is the price-conscious series in the Barletta lineup. The way the dash is designed incorporates simplicity with functionality. First, you’ll see the gauges placed directly behind the wheel for easy visibility.


You will also find the controls for the stereo system and the depth finder within arm’s reach of the captain’s chair. To the left of the wheel, you’ll see the control panel for the Hertz stereo system. This system allows you to switch between Bluetooth, AM/FM radio, and AUX. This is also where you control the volume.


To the right of the steering wheel, you’ll find the Hook 4 depth and fish finder. This can be upgraded to a Hook 5 or Simrad GO7. However, the Hook 4 system gives you the necessary information for those looking for fish or concerned about the depth.


The Cabrio helm is a bit more intricate than that of the Aria series. You’ll see from looking at it that it has more of a complex design. For starters, it is a raised helm that helps the captain see easily over the passenger sitting in the bow chaise in front of them. 


The Cabrio helm splits the accessory switches between the left and the right side of the dash. On the right side of the dash, you’ll find the standard Hook 5 fish/depth finder or optional Simrad GO7 and the Hertz stereo control. All are positioned for easy access but out of the way while driving the boat. 


Also found on the right side of the helm is a wireless phone charger. This makes it easy to charge your phone while spending long hours on the water without having to worry about losing and forgetting cords. The wireless charger has saved me a number of times.



The Corsa helm is designed to be more visually appealing than that on the Cabrio. Corsa’s are equipped with the Simrad GO7 and Audison audio control center to the right of the wheel. Instead of having accessory switches, the Corsa models have accessory buttons positioned on both sides of the helm.


You will find a wireless cell phone charger on the helm of Corsa models as well. This is found under the gauges, directly in front of the wheel. It’s the perfect slot for your phone while driving around on the boat. 


The Corsa helm is also raised for easy viewing. The Corsa helm has a fiberglass look throughout with a sport wheel and helm mat that matches the vinyl accent color. This is unique to the Corsa series. 



The Lusso helm is very similar to the Corsa. Like the Corsa models, Lusso’s have a Simrad GO7 and Audison audio control center to the right of the wheel. These models also have accessory buttons rather than accessory switches.


These accessory buttons are split between the two sides of the helm just like the Corsa. This is to keep the helm more organized and separated. The Lusso helm is a bit different in design. The Lusso helm is vinyl wrapped on the top and features a deluxe wheel with a floating Barletta logo in the center. 

Just like the Corsa, you will find a wireless charger on the helm. It is located in the same spot as it is in the Corsa series. Just below the gauges, you’ll find the wireless phone charger. 



Last but not least, the most elegant and advanced dash in the Barletta family of boats can be found on the Reserve.  There are many similarities between this helm and the helm found on the Lusso, however, there are a few features that take the Reserve dashboard to the next level.   


The Reserve is equipped with a touchscreen control center to the right of the wheel. Here you can control the RGB lights, and the Harmen Kardon audio system, you can access the 360-camera view, powered tower, as well as other advanced features.


Directly in front of the wheel, you will find the Simrad GO9 system display. This is directly in front of the wheel as it allows you to access important information while you are driving your boat. Also, like the Corsa and Lusso helms, the buttons are positioned on both sides of the dash for ease of access. 


The Reserve is also equipped with a wireless phone charger. It is beneath the gauge display, in the same location as the Corsa and Lusso models. Unique to the Reserve helm is the cooling fan. Similar to a fan vent you’ll find in your car, the Reserve has one to the right of the wheel in case you get a little too warm out on the water this summer. 


To make things even more convenient, this model has a battery switch located just beneath the throttle. This switch is a master control for the batteries on board. You can always make sure to shut the batteries off before jumping off the boat for the night. 



On most Barletta’s, excluding the Reserve, you’ll find two gauges that sit right in front of the wheel. These gauges are traditional yet elegant which makes them flow with the elevated look of a Barletta pontoon. Gauges tell you the important things you need to know about what is going on with your boat. 


The gauge on the left side of the dash will tell you the RPM of the boat. On the right side of the dash, you’ll find the speedometer, fuel gauge, and trim. This information is very important for the captain to have while driving.


The best part about these gauges is that they are positioned directly in front of the wheel. The position makes them easy to see while your boat is in motion if needed. You won’t have to look away from the direction you’re traveling with the gauges right in front of you. 



Where the technology is located on the boat is determined by the series of Barletta. All depth finders and chartplotters are located on the right side of the dash. However, the location of the audio controls varies between series.


Let’s go over the different technology that comes standard in the different series. You will find anything from a Lowrance Hook 4 fish/depth finder to a Simrad 9” Chartplotter gauge display and control display.


The Aria series comes standard with a Hook 4 depth/fish finder. Next, the Cabrio series comes with a Hook 5 fish/depth finder. For both the Corsa and Lusso series, these boats come standard with a Simrad 7”. And finally, the Reserve comes standard with a Simrad 9” gauge display and control display.


All these versions of fish/depth finders and chartplotters are popular options. For most, you won’t even utilize all the functions of these technology systems. However, for those interested in having the best of the best, there’s something that will work for you. 


The big difference between the Lowrance systems and the Simrad systems is that the Simrad can have engine integration. This means that the Simrad can report information from the motor to your screen. You can keep tabs on the health of your motor with this engine integration.


A popular feature for any boater is the sound system. Each Barletta is equipped with an elevated sound system. There is some variation among the different series however each system is more than sufficient for any boater’s needs.


On Cabrio, Corsa, Lusso, and Reserve models, the audio control center will be found on the right side of the dash. The Aria is the only different one in this scenario. The audio control center is found on the left side of the helm on the Aria models.


Both Aria and Cabrio series are equipped with Hertz Marine Stereo Systems. Both Corsa and Lusso series are equipped with a top-tier Hertz Marine Stereo System. And finally, the Reserve has an advanced Harmen Kardon stereo system.


Accessory Buttons

The accessory buttons and switches on the helm allow you to control things such as navigation lights, docking lights, courtesy lights, bilge pump, and more. These buttons or switches help you to control parts of your boat that you need.


Basically, anything that is added to your boat for your convenience can be controlled from these switches. Depending on the series of your boat, these switches and buttons might look a little bit different. 


On Aria and Cabrio models, the accessories will be accessed through switches. On Corsa, Lusso, and Reserve series the accessories will be accessed through buttons on the dash. Both are labeled to make it easy for you to know which switches/buttons do what.



Now let’s go over the most important area of the boat for the captain. Of course, the throttle is needed for putting the boat into motion. It allows you to move the boat forward, backward, or idle in neutral. 


The throttle you’ll find on your boat is determined by the type of motor you have. For instance, if you have a Mercury motor, you will have a Mercury throttle on your helm. If you have a Yamaha motor on your Barletta, you’ll find a Yamaha throttle on the helm. 


Let’s go over the Mercury throttles. They are quite advanced so sometimes it can be difficult to know what the different buttons do. 


These throttles have a couple of different buttons on them that can be used for different functions. These buttons change the controls of the motor to make things easier for the captain.


There is a docking button that prevents you from rapidly accelerating and accidentally running into something while parking the boat. There is also a transfer button but that is not relevant for Barletta boats.


This would only be useful if you had two control centers on a boat and wanted to transfer the controls to the other center. For example, a saltwater fishing boat that has a flybridge would have a second control center on the flybridge, this is where the transfer button comes into play.


Another button found on these control centers is the “throttle only” button which allows you to rev the motor without putting it into motion. Found also on Mercury motor throttles is an ON/OFF button. This button can be used to turn the motor on and off. It acts as another ignition button, but the keys must be in the ignition for this operation to be functional. 


The most useful control on these throttles is the trim control found conveniently where your thumb sits on the throttle. Having an outboard motor, the ability to trim it up and down is necessary for the performance and adds to the advantages of outboard motors.



As for the Yamaha controls, these throttles are a little simpler. You will find the trim button on the throttle again in a convenient to-reach spot. You are also able to rev the motor without putting the boat in gear. This is a function used typically for maintenance.


There is a lot more than you could’ve ever expected when it comes to throttles. Another difference you may find is mechanical versus digital throttles. Digital throttles allow for smooth shifting and eliminate the grinding that comes from “shifting too slowly”. Now, some people prefer mechanical throttles as they are more old-style. There are differences between the two, so it depends on which you prefer. 


Most throttles, overall, have very similar functions. It all depends on how fancy you would like to get with them. Once you understand what the different buttons do, it should make driving your boat a piece of cake. 


Simplify the Helm

There is a lot going on with the helm of a Barletta boat. Though it can be a lot to learn at first, everything has a purpose. Everything found on the helm of a Barletta is either necessary to control the boat or an added benefit for convenience. Once you understand the purpose of each part of the helm, you will appreciate it a lot more. 


As someone who is often in the driver's seat of the boat, I can appreciate the technology and the location of every single tool on the helm. Not to mention the legroom and the ergonomics of the seat. The entire captain's area on a Barletta is built for functionality and comfort.


Take a seat in the captain’s chair yourself to see what separates a Barletta helm from other brands. From the plush high-back chair to the extra legroom, you’ll find comfort in every ride.



About Olivia Hudak

Avid boater and Barletta Boats team member, Olivia is no stranger to the water. She was on the MSU wake team through college and continues to ride the wake in her spare time.