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Piloting a boat at planing speeds

Introducing the points about piloting a boat at middle to high speeds

Chapter 5: Piloting a boat at planing speeds

After motoring out of the marina or harbor at low speed, it is time to gradually move the engine's remote controller lever forward and increase the engine's rpm. In the middle speed range the steering becomes easier than at low speeds and you will find it easier to maintain the course you want. As the engine rpm climbs higher, the boat goes up on a plane (level) on the water, in the state known as "planing,"which allows the speed to climb further and the boat to become more stable on the water. In this sequel we will explain about this process. Of course there are differences depending on the size and type of boat and the horsepower of the engine, but with most outboard powered boats the guideline for planing is normally at an rpm of about 4,000.

Operational process going from middle speed range up to planing


First set your course, using landmarks such as a lighthouse or the end of a cape or a compass setting. Tell your passengers to get ready for the acceleration in speed by holding on to a handrail, etc., in a safe position.

For beginners, picking a point to head for, such as a building or point of land, helps keep you on a straight course


When you push the remote lever (accelerator) forward with the bow pointed on course, the bow will rise gradually as the boat accelerates. This rising of the bow makes it somewhat more difficult to see directly in front of your boat, so extra care is necessary.


As the engine rpm increases further, the bow begins to drop, the field of vision opens up and you can see well again in the forward direction. As the bow drops and the boat levels off, the boat speed also increases. When this happens the boat is in the state that we call planing.


Once the boat is planing, ease back on the remote control lever (accelerator) slightly to a stable running speed.

1) Increasing the engine rpm gradually first causes the bow to rise

2) Further acceleration causes the boat to enter the planing state and stabilize

A boat doesn't have any brakes like a car. To bring the boat to a stop, the remote control lever (accelerator) is pulled back to the neutral position so the engine rpm comes back to the idling level. This will cause the boat to decelerate rapidly and come to a stop. However, too sudden a drop in rpm can lead to a number of problems. So, except in the case of emergency, be sure to decrease the rpm gradually.

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