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    Driving 5 MPH or lower.

    I'm new to boating as this is my first boat and the first and only boat I've ever driven. I know I am a newbie and my first few times out were, well very interesting. I can get the boat in and out of the water effortlessly now but it was rough and stressful the first few times. I've also struggled with docking the boat but after practicing and watching many videos I have that down pretty well too. The one thing I have an issue with is keeping the boat straight at slow speeds. Once I'm around 7MPH or above I'm good to go, however in no wake zones I really struggle to keep the boat tracking straight. If I hold the wheel straight the bow seems to drift port and stbd and I find myself constantly turning the wheel left to right trying to stay on course and when I look behind me my wake is zig zagged. I'm wondering if this is a normal thing every boater deals with. I try and make very small corrections so I'm not constantly turning the wheel back and forth all the way.

    I have taken the boater course through Boater-ED and actually took my time and paid close attention. My wife and I take the boat out as often as we can and I have more than 50 hours of driving time so far. Some of the things I do to mitigate the wandering is keep my load balanced and passengers weight evenly distributed so the boat cruises flat without listing. I also don't allow anyone to move about the boat at slow speeds and that helps a little.

    I'm pretty sure my slow speed issues aren't mechanical. I dropped my boat off at a Marina shortly after purchasing it while we were away for a week last month. I had them go through everything to include an engine compression check. They found nothing wrong with the boat and the owner was the person who wet tested it. I was told I have a very well maintained and clean boat in excellent condition.

    Any suggestions or is what I'm experiencing typical and normal?

    #2
    Single or twin engines? If twin then it could be that you’re not matching rpm on the engines causing the engines to steer the boat to port or starboard. If you have trim tabs then bring them both up to make sure they are level.
    First big boat
    3870 1986 Twin 175hp Hino
    West Indies

    Comment


      #3
      Sorry I should have added that my boat is a 21' cuddy cabin with the 5.0 inbd and alpha 1 stern drive. Single, three blade propeller.

      Comment


        #4
        Low speed wandering is totally normal with a single engine, we all deal with it. Don’t make corrections instantly like you would in your truck, let the boat wander a little bit one way and wait till it wanders back the other way. If it didn’t wander back enough to keep your course than make a slight adjustment to the wheel and see how it responds.
        btw: my experience is having both tabs full down will typically reduce the wandering at low speeds slightly.
        Dave
        Edmonds, WA
        "THE FIX" '93 2556
        Carbureted 383 Vortec-Bravo II
        The Rebuild Of My 2556 https://www.baylinerownersclub.org/f...76?view=thread
        My Misc. Projects
        https://www.baylinerownersclub.org/f...56-gctid789773

        Comment


          #5
          X2 on trim tabs down. I also noticed a huge improvement on idle speed manners when I swapped out to a 4 blade Hill marine big cow prop vs the solas 3 prop.

          With tabs down and new prop she still wanders but much less. I can now troll for bass without looking like a drunk at the helm.

          Comment


            #6
            I agree with Dave. Very typical for a smaller single engine boat.
            And yes......overcorrecting exaggerates bow wander.

            My suggestion:
            ..... Try to anticipate the bow’s next move……
            ..... Make the correction early, but not excessive….
            ..... Repeat when the bow begins to wander in the opposite direction…..

            It will still be aggravating, but you’ll eventually begin to see it as a non-issue.

            Your idea of having your passengers up front and staying still should help by keeping more of the keel in the water.



            I don't know if your 21 footer is equipped with Trim Tabs...... but if it is, lower both TT planes equally into the water.
            It may help some!




            .
            Rick E. (aka RicardoMarine) Gresham, Oregon
            2850 Bounty Sedan Flybridge model
            Twin 280 HP 5.7's w/ Closed Cooling
            Volvo Penta DuoProp Drives
            Kohler 4 CZ Gen Set

            Please, no PMs. Ask your questions on forum.

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately my boat isn't equipped with trim tabs. I try to slightly trim up the bow and that seems to help some. I feel reassured knowing this is something everyone deals with. Hopefully with more practice and time at the wheel I'll get better at controlling the boat at slow speeds. What makes it worse is the current in the river I use to gain access to the ocean. The current is affected by the tides and it can get very windy. There is a lot going on there for a new boater like myself.

              Comment


                #8
                ................
                Originally posted by Life_is_good View Post
                Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately my boat isn't equipped with trim tabs.
                Many smaller boats are not equipped with Trim Tabs.

                I try to slightly trim up the bow and that seems to help some. I feel reassured knowing this is something everyone deals with.
                Yes, all single engine stern drive boat owners have to deal with it.

                Hopefully with more practice and time at the wheel I'll get better at controlling the boat at slow speeds.

                What makes it worse is the current in the river I use to gain access to the ocean. The current is affected by the tides and it can get very windy. There is a lot going on there for a new boater like myself.
                You may want to increase your speed just a bit.

                Be very careful in a 21 footer when leaving the river and going into the ocean.
                These are typically river/lake boats.

                Rick E. (aka RicardoMarine) Gresham, Oregon
                2850 Bounty Sedan Flybridge model
                Twin 280 HP 5.7's w/ Closed Cooling
                Volvo Penta DuoProp Drives
                Kohler 4 CZ Gen Set

                Please, no PMs. Ask your questions on forum.

                Comment


                  #9
                  They build that wander into small boats so that you have to keep your eye out on where you are going. 😋 After a while, you don't even notice it.
                  Tally and Vicki
                  "Wickus" Meridian 341
                  MMSI 338014939

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I'm careful out in the ocean but have been out there with some 2-4' seas and the boat does very well. When I notice the seas picking up I start to head back in.

                    I prefer the ocean to the lakes since I have more room to run around. I've seen boats a lot smaller than 21' out there.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by tangaroa View Post
                      Single or twin engines? If twin then it could be that you’re not matching rpm on the engines causing the engines to steer the boat to port or starboard. If you have trim tabs then bring them both up to make sure they are level.
                      I should have added that once they are up and level then trim the tabs down to correct the wander. It’s easier to adjust them once you know where they are and are level to start with.
                      Moot point..you don’t have tabs!
                      First big boat
                      3870 1986 Twin 175hp Hino
                      West Indies

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I've seen boats a lot smaller than 21' out there.
                        That is true! However, these guys are very well seasoned boaters!
                        Rick E. (aka RicardoMarine) Gresham, Oregon
                        2850 Bounty Sedan Flybridge model
                        Twin 280 HP 5.7's w/ Closed Cooling
                        Volvo Penta DuoProp Drives
                        Kohler 4 CZ Gen Set

                        Please, no PMs. Ask your questions on forum.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Maybe, maybe not... Without personally talking to them there's no way of knowing how much experience they have. It all comes down to risk management which is something we lived by during my 25 year Naval Career. Haven't been in an uncomfortable or unsafe condition on the water yet

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Life_is_good View Post
                            Maybe, maybe not... Without personally talking to them there's no way of knowing how much experience they have. It all comes down to risk management which is something we lived by during my 25 year Naval Career.
                            Haven't been in an uncomfortable or unsafe condition on the water yet
                            If in 25 years you have not encountered a rough or unsafe condition, you may not be as prepared as need-be if you were to find yourself in one.


                            Be safe out there.
                            Rick E. (aka RicardoMarine) Gresham, Oregon
                            2850 Bounty Sedan Flybridge model
                            Twin 280 HP 5.7's w/ Closed Cooling
                            Volvo Penta DuoProp Drives
                            Kohler 4 CZ Gen Set

                            Please, no PMs. Ask your questions on forum.

                            Comment


                            • Life_is_good
                              Life_is_good commented
                              Editing a comment
                              I think you missed my point. I haven't placed myself in an unsafe or uncomfortable condition on the water. I've been through more storms than I can count aboard Naval ships, I know what the seas are capable better than most. As a personal boat operator keeping a close eye on the marine forecast for the area I boat and wind conditions, as well as conditions while on the water and I'm doing just fine. New personal boater or not I have experience at sea and I'm experienced and smart enough to know how far I should/can go and under what conditions with my 21' boat.

                              You be safe out there too.

                            #15
                            Sounds like as a new boater the OP is very comfortable in the ocean. Perhaps his previous naval experience has prepared him well.
                            👍🏼
                            Dave
                            Edmonds, WA
                            "THE FIX" '93 2556
                            Carbureted 383 Vortec-Bravo II
                            The Rebuild Of My 2556 https://www.baylinerownersclub.org/f...76?view=thread
                            My Misc. Projects
                            https://www.baylinerownersclub.org/f...56-gctid789773

                            Comment

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