All boat models are more or less unique, but some require special attention.

Step By Step On How to Drive a Boat

  1. If your boat is powered by gasoline and has an engine compartment, run the “blower” (an exhaust fan) as per manufacturer’s recommendations prior to starting the engine, to make sure there isn’t a build-up of fumes in the compartment. This is a good time to run through your pre departure checklist.
  2. Put the key into the ignition (some modern boats have push-buttons instead), and turn it to start the engine.
  3. If the boat has a “kill switch” (also known as an engine safety cut-off, which automatically turns the engine off if you leave the helm for any reason), clip the lanyard on a belt loop of life jacket ring.
  4. Make sure all your gear is aboard and all your passengers are prepared to disembark. 
  5. Remove all the lines securing the boat to the dock, pier or slip.
  6. Engage forward (or reverse if you need to back out of a slip) by pushing the throttle handle forward (or pulling it back) gently until you feel it shift into gear.
  7. When the boat begins moving, spin the wheel just as you would turn the steering wheel in a car to determine direction of travel.
  8. Advance the throttle as appropriate to reach the desired speed.
  9. Trim (adjust running attitude) the boat as appropriate for the conditions.
  10. When you want to slow down, gently pull the throttle back towards the neutral position.