Master the Pivot Turn to Maneuver Your Single Engine Boat in Close Quarters | BoatUS

You’ve probably found yourself in your single-engine
outboard or sterndrive in a narrow channel or driving into a marina only to find out
that you’re in the wrong spot. That means you have to turn around in a space
that’s too tight for a normal 180-degree turn. So what’s a boater to do? Well, you finesse your way out of course. A few tips: First, don’t get so far down the
fairway that you can’t maneuver with a boat or dock right in front of you. Back out a little ways if you need more turning
room. Next, your boat likely has a right-hand propeller
so it will back to port. So use this to your advantage and make your
turns to the right. If you have a sterndrive with counter rotating
propellers, it doesn’t walk to port or starboard, so you can turn in either direction. Trim your engines out for most effective backing. That’s because the propeller wash will be
directed down under the boat instead of against the transom, and this is particularly important
with a bracket-mounted outboard. So, here’s the technique. Put the engine hard right. Give the throttle a quick burst ahead. Take the engine out of gear. Shift the engine to hard left and give a quick
burst to stern. Take the engine out of gear and repeat until
you’re headed in the right direction. Now, note that if you’re going ahead or astern
much before the engine is hard over, you’re going to work against yourself by slowing
the turn. So, now let’s have a look at how it’s done. So, here we are. We’re in the fairway between two rows of slips
and we just discovered, you know what, we’re in the wrong one. We should be one dock over. So what are we going to do? Well, I’m just going to take the engine out
of gear for a minute. I’m going to put the engine hard right, and
then I’m going to give it a quick burst ahead. Now, not a lot of power. Just 800 to 1,000 rpm and then I’m going to take
it out of gear and I’m going to shift the rudder to hard left. And then I’m going to put it in reverse. A quick burst astern. And then I’m going to take it out of gear. I’m going to shift the rudder to hard right. And then I’m going to give it a quick burst
ahead. And that’s actually enough to get me fair
in the channel here. So it’s quite simple, use enough power to
maintain your heading and to control your turn but not so much that you lose control
and you end up banging into somebody. So, there it is. The pivot turn. Go out and give it a try, and I think you’ll
like it.

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