How to Drive a Boat With An Outboard Motor

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As a friend of mine once said, “the only thing better than owning a nice boat is having a good friend who owns one.”

Having a good friend who owns a boat is fun.

But what happens if that friend becomes ill or worse yet falls on board? Will you be ready to be in charge of that boat?

If yes, then how will you manage the driving? Before you start driving an outboard motor boat, let me share some useful things with you. I recommend the Sican Outboard Motor 4 stroke (Available on Amazon).

Sican Outboard Motor 4 stroke
Sican Outboard Motor 4 stroke

This article will help you to learn how to drive an outboard motor boat.

An Overview of Outboard Motor Boat

Until engines were invented, the only way to drive a boat was wind or muscle power. Outboard motors invented early in the 20th century, changed the whole scenario.

First of all, you need to know what an outboard motorboat is. It is a simple boat holding a detachable engine at the back end.

This engine is placed in the center of the stern (backside). A driver controls the speed, direction, and operations of that engine.

What is an Outboard Motor?

It is a portable motor that is fixed with the boat to glide on water. These motors are manufactured by renowned car manufacturing companies.

A typical outboard has some specific parts. That includes a gear case, the engine, and a propeller.

Usually, modern outboard packages come with four-stroke engines. But many are still using a conventional two-stroke engine.

The outboard has a throttle, pull starter, gear, and a tiller. Steering of outboard is controlled by a tiller that sets the angle of the engine to direct propeller thrust.

Starting the Pull-start Outboard Engine

Pull-start Outboard Engine
Pull-start Outboard Engine

Before starting the engine, make sure that the gear lever is in the neutral position. This is usually straight-up.

If it is cold outside, pull out the choke before starting the engine. And if the engine is already warm do not use the choke.

Set the throttle position. Turn the hand grip and align the arrow with the start mark.

Now, pull the starter rope until you feel the resistance of the engine. Pull the starter rope forcefully and repeat if needed.

When the engine fires, check the choke. If you have pulled out the choke then slowly push it until the engine runs smoothly.

Now use the throttle and gradually line up the arrow with the shift mark.

Departing the Dock

First of all, you need to turn the throttle arm until it lines up with the shift or the run mark. Now, push away your boat, put it in reverse gear, and back out the boat slowly until you are far enough to turn around.

Once turn around, watch the traffic carefully and choose the proper space to go out into the shallow waters.

Keep in mind that, your steering is at the back of the boat. So always think about the back. This will help you to avoid over or under-steering.

Water changes with currents and winds. That’s why it does not provide a smooth surface to glide on. Just keeping your steering inline does not mean that your boat will float on a straightway.

You need to be focused and concentrated compensating for the effects of water currents to keep your boat in line.

When using an outboard motor the steering has a major concern. If the tiller is pushed to the right the boat will turn in left. Similarly, if the tiller is pulled to the left then the boat will turn to the right.

How to Stop Outboard Motor?

Boats do not hold brakes. Instead, they settle quickly when the engine is turned off or the throttle is shifted to neutral.

As the boat slows down you lose control of the steering. When the boat is moving with speed it’s easy to control the steering. But it becomes difficult as soon as it slows down.

In order to kill the engine, put it in neutral, and turn the throttle hand grip to align with the stop position. Now push the red button on the engine which kills the engine.


Use gear liver to put your boat in reverse or forward directions.

You should keep your eyes on the front or bow when floating forward and watch the back or stern while reversing the boat.

However, when reversing, keep in mind that if you turn the tiller on right the boat will turn on the right side. And if you turn the tiller on left it will move in the left direction.

Docking the Boat

A dual-engine boat seems to be easier to handle and control because you can put one engine in the back and the second in front. This makes maneuvering around the obstacles easier.

Docking a single-engine boat is also not that difficult. The problem with docking a single-engine boat lies in its simplicity. It has s single propeller and you can put it either forward or in reverse

You need not memorize a bunch of rules for docking an outboard motor boat. It is simply to remember some common sense things.

Remember that the stern moves first. When you turn the tiller to the right, it seems that the bow moves to the left. But actually, it’s not and the stern is in charge.

Drill it into your mind. So that, you can practice this while reversing, forwarding, or turning the boat.

The second thing to remember is to forget the throttle. Set the throttle at the lowest setting. The throttle has little to do with getting you next to the dock.

Now, pull your boat parallel to the dock. After that put it in forward and slowly say “forward motorboat” and then put it in neutral. Then immediately put it in reverse and say “reverse motorboat” and put it in neutral again.

These small bursts of forward and reverse will make a precise approach to the dark.

Simple Boating Tips for Beginners

Check the weather before you hit the water. Storms and winds are unexpected on the ocean. Especially when you are a beginner it is no good time to be sneaking up by a storm.

You should dress in layers. Even if it is warm on the land but be prepared to be kicked up by a sudden weather change.

Dock your boat slowly and carefully. Do not rush as you could hit a swimmer or damage your boat.

Leave a float plan behind. In case of an emergency, there should be anyone who can guess your position in the ocean.

Medical kit
Medical kit

You should accompany a surplus of water, food, and a medical kit. A medical kit (Available on Amazon) will help you to be safe until you can get back to a doctor on land.

Follow the “three times” rule while fuel consumption on a trip.

One part to go, the second part for getting back, and the third part of the fuel are as a reserve.

Always wear a life jacket. A lot of boating death incidents are caused due to the lack of life jackets onboard.

You must have a toolbox. If you have any technical problem while boating it will help you to prevent being stuck for hours waiting for the help to arrive.

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