Learning how to drive a boat is a process that takes a lot of time and practice. You should become perfect at operating your craft before you ever attempt to drive it without expert supervision so you will need someone who is good with boats on board as you learn. There is a lot more than you might think to driving a boat, and certain water conditions may call for specific driving tactics. Following is some information on how to drive a boat.
How to Drive a Boat: What is Needed
- Supervisor who knows how to drive the boat
- Place to dock
- Gasoline (or diesel)
- Life preserver
How to Drive a Boat
- First, you should get used to all of the controls. On most boats which have center consoles, there is a panel of controls. On it, there is a steering wheel, a throttle (which controls the motor's speed), a switch to put the boat in reverse, and often, a control for raising or lowering the motor so that it runs best in shallow/deep water, and the ignition. Once you have scanned these, make sure that your boat is filled with gas and that you have some extra on board if necessary. Then, with a supervisor (if you cannot find one, do not go far from the dock), test out your craft.
- Leaving the dock if you are in a slip will require you to back out. Slowly putter backwards with the boat in reverse, and the cut the wheel after you are out. Keep the throttle very low. Then, turn and head out of the marina by running the motor forward at a slow pace. Here you can get a feel of how touchy the steering wheel is. Remember to put on your life preserver.
- Once you are out, practice your driving. At slow speeds, practice turning. You will need to learn how to raise the motor if you want to take your boat into the shallows, so do this, but only at low tide, which means that if you get stuck in too shallow water, the tide will come in and free you.
- Continue practicing your controlling the boat. Try to go out on slightly choppier days, and see how you need to compensate for waves in your steering. If you go out on rough days, you will need to slow as you approach big waves which you are going over to avoid having the next ones break over the bow as you are in the trough between them.
- Continue practicing until you have no problem running the boat. Always make sure to have a life preserver and extra fuel on hand, and drive carefully, without drinking. At first, the hardest part may be fine turning, which is required to enter and leave slips or docks at any marina. Eventually, you will get this down, but drive the boat very slowly in the meantime.
Learning how to drive a boat takes a lot of practice. Work slowly at first, with a supervisor if possible, and begin to work your way up to a normal pace as you start to get the hang of your craft. Always bring a life preserver and fuel with you, as certain situations can arise on the water for which you will want to be prepared.