Going fishing in a boat seems like a pretty exciting adventure. However, you first need to learn the basics of how to drive a bass boat before launching. It is not just about getting in and turning the key or hoisting the sail.
It is a versatile enjoyable venture. For a newbie, you will need to learn boating basics. There are different types and designs of boats, but they can be narrowed down to two hull designs, displacement and planing.
Bass boats are examples of planing boats as they skim on the water. The nautical components of any vessel include the; stern(back), bow(front), starboard(the right side) and port(the left side).
To determine how many people your boat can safely carry, check if there’s a capacity placard near the operator. Or use the rule of the thumb whereby you multiply the length of the boat times the width divided by fifteen.
You need to have a pre-launch checklist to check against every component of the vessel, to ensure that everything is in order. Inspect critical items frequently. You should never launch when there is any indication of a pending storm.
Remember to put on your killswitch. If caught in a storm, you can adopt the following measures of precaution. They include:
- Put on life jackets. This step applies to you and any other passengers on board.
- Close any doors or openings.
- Reduce your boats’ speed and head into the water.
- Secure all loose objects as they may injure someone.
Pro TIPS on Driving a Bass Boat
After launching, the ideal way to drive your boat will be determined by the nature of the waters.
Driving in Rough Water
If you happen to find yourself in rough waters, navigating can become challenging. How then do you navigate safely?
The type of boat or the engine of your boat matters in such a situation. However, two simple steps that you can take whatever the make of your vessel, to help with your navigation include:
- Driving slowly and steadily.
- Trim your motor so that the keel cuts through the water.
- Keep your bow high.
- Secure all your equipment.
Traveling into the wind is smoother than moving into it, when in rough waters. Do not cross the wind as it is a killer. Running slow while keeping the bow high will shield you from some of the weather.
Even though it will blind you to your course of travel, you will be able to get your bearings and make a course correction.
Bass boats are usually fast, and for safe driving, you need to understand the capabilities of your vessel. Most anglers like to get to the next spot fast, but few know when to open up and how to calculate the best route to your next stop.
In ideal conditions, start off slow as you work in higher ranges of speed. The shortest distance from one point to another is usually a straight line, but this may not be the safest in rough waters.
In the presence of boat and wind traffic, the shortest route may turn hazardous. If you still insist on going full throttle, you will need to find a safe and more circuitous path. If not, then you will have to reduce your speed.
As you drive, stay clear of other boats. This principle is the same as the defensive driving concept; the people on the other boats may not be safe drivers. Their mistakes may lead to damages to your boat or result in you getting hurt.
Ensure to keep an eye out for waves or wind. It will contribute to ensuring that your ride is uneventful and safe.
Trimming Your Boat
A little Positive Trim
For a smooth ride, you will require a little "positive" trim. To bring the gear case out, change the angle of the propeller or level the boat out, a few seconds on the ‘up’ button will do just fine.
A halfway trim makes for best fuel mileage and a clean ride. It is where the trim isn't too high or dragging. It is suitable for slow-speed and midrange cruising.
A little Less from Neutral
When you get into choppy waters, you will have to drop the trim slightly below the neutral setting. This will help to smooth out your ride.
If you have a high speed yet weight-sensitive rig, you may need to add some weights to the passenger-side of the boat. The weights will simulate that of a passenger and keep the vessel running at high speed. This is so when riding cross-waves and side winds that are strong.
For practice purposes, as you get a handle on using a new rig, adding weights will help the boat to be less sensitive to trim and power. This measure helps make driving easier for a newbie. As time goes by and as you get better at it, you can reduce the weights, little by little.
Out in the water, remember to put on adequate eye protection gear e.g. sunglasses. Sometimes a snowmobile helmet comes in handy especially when driving fast. The mask helps reduce wind resistance to improve your line of vision.
At high speeds, you will be covering a lot of water in a short time. You need to be on the lookout for danger signs or any obstructions. Be on the lookout for any wind ruffles on the surface of the water.
Once you spot them, you need to respond by downing the trim before doing so to the throttle. It may not be necessary to down the accelerator. Rain, snow and fog are known to impair one's vision. In such areas with reduced visibility:
- Turn on the navigation lights.
- Listen and watch for other boats that may be on the water or near you.
- Slow down the speed of your boat.
- If possible, find a place where you can anchor your boat as you wait for the air to clear.
A GPS will help you in determining your position. Sometimes the GPS doesn’t update often, and in such a situation, you need to look and try to determine your location with the help of charts.
Riding a boat as you go fishing is an exciting affair but knowing how to drive a bass boat is essential to avoid any accidents or damages to your boat. It is more than getting in and turning the key.
When you find you find yourself in rough waters, the key is to drive slow and steady. Even as you ride your boat, keep a safe distance from other vessels. Their mistakes could lead to getting hurt or damaging of your boat.
Get to understand the different ways that you can trim your boat. When in rough water, you need to set the trim below neutral for a smooth ride. The various trim settings are ideal in different situations.