Getting the Feel for Your Boat
1. If your boat isn’t behaving the way you think she should, try to figure out why. There may be something that you can do about it.
2. The prop(s) may be the wrong pitch or size. Sometimes this can be true even with a new boat.
3. Simple and relatively inexpensive additions may help. An example could be the addition of a splash rail on the hull, forward, above the waterline.
4. She may be loaded improperly, as, for example, too much weight forward, or too much weight altogether.
5. If it’s an outboard, the angle may need adjusting.
6. Study her underbody when hauled. Once you understand the dynamics of her performance, you may be able to better respond to them.
7. With used boats, a previous owner may have made additions or changes that adversely affect performance. Find out if any changes were made and then consider whether they could affect water flow past the hull, windage, trim, or weight.
8. Practice maneuvering your boat where you can afford to make mistakes. Start on a calm day in an open body of water with no waves, current, or other boats. Practice doing the things you would do docking, such as moving the boat sideways, reversing, etc. It helps if there are stationary stakes, such as PVC poles, which you can pretend to be piers. Some people temporarily anchor floats for bearings. If you do this, be careful to not wrap the float’s rode around your prop or rudder, and remember to pull it up when you’re through. As you become more proficient, do this with wind and current. Then graduate to a dock with no current, wind (or “friends” watching) or other traffic. Then move up to docking with current and wind.
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Copyright 2004-2010 Tom Neale