Gone boat-flying lately? Drive a high-performance rig at 70 miles per hour or more and that’s basically what you’re doing. At these speeds, the boat’s aerodynamics become almost as important as its hydrodynamics. There’s a lot more of the hull in the air than in the water, which turns safe driving into a whole new ball game.
If you don’t feel comfortable going fast in your boat, there’s no reason you should. But speed compresses distance-that’s why we have interstate highways. When you can travel a mile in less than a minute, it opens lots of new water to you in a day’s fishing, and that often means more bites. It means you can get home faster when dark approaches or bad weather threatens. And it’s just plain exhilarating fun-so long as you have the skills to do it safely.
No Room for Error
The most important thing is to have the rig properly set up by a dealer who understands performance bass boats and how to rig them exactly right.
There are two potential control problems in running at higher speeds. The first, bow-to-stern rocking, or “porpoising,” is easy to fix, presuming you caused it by trimming the motor too high for the amount of power you’re applying. Trim down a bit and the porpoising should go away.
Side-to-side rocking, or “chine-walking,” is trickier. If not corrected, it increases until the boat becomes uncontrollable. Don’t think you can drive through it. According to the tech staff at Mercury Marine, the basic trick in avoiding chine-walking is keeping steady pressure on the steering wheel. Don’t let the boat get in a mode where, like a squirrel crossing the street, it wants to go one way and then the other.
Many beginning drivers actually make chine-walking worse. When the boat falls off to one side, they jerk the wheel the opposite way, which then makes the boat flop over on that side. When you’re learning to drive, the easy way is to proceed down the lake in a number of very broad “tacks,” steering in a gentle arc first left and then right of your intended destination. This steady pressure on the motor prevents the boat from getting into the “squirrel” mode.