Driving a Boat Tips

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I want to race boats, but how do I start?

Start Your Racing Boat

If you have ever been to a boat race you can remember the scream of the high performance boats flying across the lake, jet fuel exhaust in the air, and people cheering as their favorites take the lead. It is an experience to truly remember.

Some people take the experience as not just a fun time but also a hobby. Boat racing is a fun, exhilarating, and sometimes dangerous pastime. The risks however are worth the reward. The American Power Boat Association (APBA) is the sanctioning body for high performance boat racing. Their charter covers everything from remote control miniatures to seagoing giant race boats. I would suggest going to their website for more detailed information as well as how to get involved. Just do a search for APBA and you'll easily find their website.

Racing high performance boats is not just limited to the adults either; teenagers can also race in restricted classes with others in their skill and age level. Overall, the sport is an exhilarating and inexpensive family activity.

How do I learn to drive a boat?

Boat Driving Basics

Boating is a great way to cool off on a hot weekend. Before you head out and buy a boat there are a few things you should know. Operating a boat is very different from a car. Sure, both usually have a steering wheel with forward and reverse, some even have boat speed control like a car's cruise control, but the car will not usually be affected by things like wind and current. On the water, as well as the road, there are also rules to follow. However, water is fluid and those rules are more of a guideline, taking second seat to current conditions.

Now that you are aware of the fact that you are not driving your car on the water let me walk you through the basic steps of how to drive a boat. First off, before you leave the dock, make sure you have enough fuel, that there is enough oil, and that all your safety equipment is in proper working order (i.e. horn, life jackets, etc). Now is time to start the engine. If you have an outboard, follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to start. If you have an inboard (engine inside the hull) make sure you turn on the ventilation blowers prior to starting just to make sure there are no gas vapors where there shouldn't be. Once the boat is started, be sure the engine is running okay, take note of any wind or current, and then cast off in such a way as to use the two to your advantage. Once you are underway and out of the busy marina or launch, turn on your electronics (radar, GPS, sonar). You can never have too many ways of judging conditions, be sure though to have an old fashioned compass aboard as well as know how to use it.

As you go along, you may see buoys that are red, or green as well as other color variations. The red and greens are the most important. They are the channel markers. The best rule of thumb to navigating them is “RED, RIGHT, RETURN” as in red buoys on your right as you return from sea. Once at sea though the buoys will usually disappear, and you will be faced with the open sea. With the sea comes the potential for big waves. With waves is best to hit them at a 45 degree angle, hitting them head-on will make for a wet rough ride that may damage the boat. Hitting them sideways may result in the boat getting swamped and potentially sinking.

There are many skills required to operate a boat and many different skills depending on what type of boat. If you want to get the most out of your boating experience and want to be a safe knowledgeable boater, attend a class offered by Boats US, your local US Coast Guard Auxiliary, and pick up a copy of Chapman's Piloting.

What are some tips for how to drive a boat?

Tips On Driving A Boat

Driving a boat is much like driving a car, although in many states, the age for obtaining a boat driving license is much younger than that of an automobile driving license. Before you even begin to learn how to drive a boat, however, it is imperative that you participate in some type of boat safety course and receive a boating certification that is endorsed by the marine police of your particular state. This is important whether you are planning on taking a leisurely ride in a sailboat or zipping through the waterways on a high performance boat. It's essential that you learn the rules of the road before you get behind the wheel of any watercraft.Once you've completed a boating safety course and received your license, you need to begin learning how to drive a boat with the aid of an experienced boater at your side.

The following tips are applicable for driving just about any boat, including runabout boats, luxury boats, high performance boats, wakeboard boats and even sailboats, when someone is learning how to drive a boat.

  1. Complete a boating course to obtain a boating safety certificate.
  2. Become familiar with all parts of the boat, including any extra safety equipment.
  3. Develop an accurate checklist that you can use before each boating excursion.
  4. Don't use alcohol, and don't allow your passengers to do so either.
  5. Be sure you have the adequate number and correct size of personal flotation devices on board.
  6. Know the navigational rules of the road.
  7. Practice safety at all times.
  8. Appoint an observer that will be on the lookout when anyone is skiing, tubing, or wakeboarding

What does boat speed control mean?

Boat Speed Control

A speed control is often referred to as an electric timing system because many speed control devices allow a boat to maintain a constant speed. Many boaters choose their boats based on the speed control options. Top performance boats often feature automatic speed controls that are simple to operate and perfect for both leisure boating and competition water sports. At the minimum, a boat should offer speed controls that allow the boat to be maneuvered in a forward position and in reverse. In many cases, a neutral setting on a boat's speed control will stop the boat from moving.

Who is a top manufacturer of performance boats?

Top Performance Boats

Boating enthusiasts continue to choose top performance boats as their watercraft choice. Top performance boats typically feature several options:

  1. Smooth rides-Top performance boats are typically given this label because of their smooth rides and quick response time.
  2. Speed control-High quality, top performance boats typically feature automatic speed controls that are easy to use.
  3. Security-Top performance boats usually feature safety options, such as under the boat propellers.
  4. Storage Compartments-Top performance boats feature adequate storage space for equipment, such as skis, wakeboards, life vests, etc.
  5. Speed-Top performance boats offer plenty of speed for towing.
  6. Seating-Top performance boats may feature plenty of room for passenger seating.

What should I look for in a runabout boat?

Feeling Sporty? An I/O is Not Your Only Choice!

Runabout boats are sporty and safe for the family. The propeller on these boats are placed further underneath the boat. This feature of a runabout makes it even easier to enter and exit the boat. The runabout can range in size from 18 feet all the way up to 25 feet, but no matter the size, these boats have easy maneuverability and a tight turning radius.

How do I safely teach my child to operate my boat?

Teaching Your Child to Safely Operate a Boat

It's preferable that you, the operator, be a skilled boatman before trying to teach your children, as this will allow you to teach them the proper way to operate the boat safely.

You and your children, if they are old enough, should attend a boating safety class. In some state like Massachusetts, there is a law that states: children under a certain age can drive a boat while alone if they have attended a state certified safety class.

Teaching a child like this not only will give them some confidence on the road, but will also make then very competent boat pilots as well. Not to mention the benefit of having a new family activity in which everyone can participate.

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Guru Spotlight
Sherril Steele-Carlin