MANY BOATERS, MYSELF INCLUDED, were taught to use the ngine as the primary way to overcome the environment, to power through adverse situations. This way of thinking will sooner or later break your boat, or get someone hurt. A com- petent operator should be able to handle their boat in close
quarters using wind and current, and be able to safely come alongside, back
their boat, turn in a narrow space, and certainly dock their boat. That’s the kind
of training that boaters receive by attending a hands-on boating course taught
by U.S. Sailing, the Power Squadrons, the National Safe Boating Council, and
local boating schools across the country. To find a course near you, visit our
BoatU.S Foundation website, www.BoatUS.org. A good one-two punch would
be to take a hands-on course such as this, as well as an online course from the
There are four basic skills taught by instructors certified by the National Safe Boating
Council; in this article we’ll focus on the first one, steering-wheel control. In upcoming
issues, we’ll focus on three other important skills.
STEERING WHEEL CONTROL
Over-steering and over-correcting are common problems. We must know whether the
wheel is straight or turned and, if turned,
which direction and how far. There isn’t room
for guessing and making corrections if the boat
doesn’t turn the direction
We’re all used to driving a car. How much different can steering-wheel
control be on a boat?
Well, hugely different, in
reality, and it can get you
in trouble if you don’t
recognize the distinction.
Cars steer from the front
while boats steer from
the stern. Boats pivot,
cars don’t. When you
PRACTICAL BOATER | BOATHANDLING
course, compare the position of the bow
with an object
on the horizon.
If the relationship changes,
BETTER BOAT CONTROL
Even experienced boaters can benefit from these four smart tips to improve their
steering control BY CHRIS EDMONSTON, BOATU.S. FOUNDATION PRESIDENT
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
STEERING A CAR AND ....
Leave space on
the inside of turn
When a car turns, the rear
wheel tracks inside the
turn, while when a boat
turns, the stern tracks
outside the turn, exactly
the opposite of what we
experience in our cars.
Note how the stern
could easily strike
the dock if the
operator isn’t aware
of the tendency of
the stern to track
outside the turn.
STEERING A BOAT