Basic Boat Maneuvering

Steering response is dependent upon three factors: rudder position, motion and throttle. While high speed maneuvering is relatively easy and takes little practice, slow speed maneuvering is far more difficult and requires much time and practice to master.

With both steering and propulsion at the rear of the boat, the initiation of a turn pushes the stern of the boat away from the direction of the turn. The stern follows a larger turning circle than the bow. This is especially important to remember when making close quarters maneuvers.

While the effects of unequal propeller thrust (torque steering), wind, and current may not always be present, a practiced driver will use them to his advantage.

Unequal thrust is a phenomenon shared by all single engine, propeller driven boats. A counterclockwise rotation propeller tends to cause the boat to drive to port when going forward, and to starboard when going backward, with the rudder in the straight ahead position.

At high speed, there is compensation for this effect, and it is virtually nonexistent. But, at slow speed and especially during backing the effect can be very pronounced. This is the main reason most experienced drivers approach with the dock to the starboard of the boat.

Stopping or checking headway, is a technique that must be mastered. With no brakes, reverse must be used to stop the boat. The momentum of the boat will vary according to the load. Make it a practice to slow to no-wake speed before shifting into reverse.

When practicing maneuvering techniques, always do so in open water that is free of traffic. Adequate practice may make the difference between a pleasurable experience or a damaging; at the least, embarrassing one.