Sitting in the boat for 1,000 hours a year over the course of 20 years will make you realize a couple of things: A) They no longer put CD changers in the boat. B) There are a lot of little things that can make your and everyone else’s time in and behind the boat more enjoyable and productive.
Here are a few things that I employ every day here at The Boarding School:
I like to use the Auto Launch, surf tabs, plate, whatever your boat manufacturer calls it, to make the wake more manageable for kids and beginners at slower speeds. Sure, we all spend most of our time trying to make the wake as big as possible, but for these cases, it makes much more sense to have these devices do just the opposite. In my XStar I have a profile set up named “Surface,” where I have the speed set at 14 mph and the center tab deployed 100 percent. This pushes the nose of the boat way down, thus flattening and widening out the wake a lot. It comes in really handy when you have a little kid or beginner behind the boat. Instead of having a giant, intimidating, mushy wake, you have something much more user-friendly, and you can take quite a few miles per hour off the speed. It’s a win-win in increasing someone’s comfort level quickly. I will also do this when first teaching people how to do surface spins or riding switch. Of course you need to experiment with which settings work best on your boat, but it’s worth a little time on the front end to make things a ton easier for people you are teaching.
Another driving hack I use is making quick, abrupt bursts with the throttle just past idle in both forward and reverse. You can make some pretty big changes in the boat position in a really small area. For instance, if I need to swing the nose of the boat far right, I first turn the steering wheel all the way right, then give a quick burst of the throttle a bit past the idle point, then let off quickly. It really pushes the nose around. This also works in reverse. By doing this I can make an inboard or V-drive back any way I want it to, not just right or left like it normally does. I highly recommend honing this skill in open water first, so you don’t make a mistake figuring it out around the dock or trailer.
3 QUICK TIPS
I hang a Sharpie marker from my bimini top to be able to mark water bottles and drinks. This way you don’t have 10 water bottles lying around your boat with one sip out of them that no one wants to touch. This tip alone will allow me to retire a full two years sooner. Otherwise I’d spend double on water for students each year.
I have an old watch zip-tied to my steering wheel, and I start the stopwatch the second each rider slips into the water. We keep sets between 15 to 25 minutes. Honestly, if you are riding much longer than this, you are more than likely doing yourself a disservice. Most people will be physically and/or mentally fatigued after 25 minutes, and will either take hard falls or create bad habits because of it. You’re much better off taking two shorter sets than one long one.
I have two 50-pound weights that I can move around in the boat to balance it out. So whether you are the only person in the boat or you have 10 people, it is much easier and quicker most times to move the weights around instead of people or ballast. There are a few manufacturers of lead made specifically for this, but a couple of rubber-coated dumbbells work just as well.
I hope these few tips make your life in the boat easier and more fun!