How to Reverse a Boat

Written by truell bliss
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How to Reverse a Boat
A boat needs power to reverse direction. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

When you put your boat in reverse you must focus on the direction you want to travel while staying cognizant of your surroundings. You can steer your boat in reverse using various types of steering systems. A boat operator must practice the reversing procedure many times to develop a feel for completing the manoeuvre successfully.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Instructions

    Steering Wheel

  1. 1

    Look behind you and face the stern, or the rear of the boat. Keep your attention focused on backing up your boat. Resist the temptation to glance over your shoulder and look at the bow. It will follow along in the same direction as the stern.

  2. 2

    Hold the boat's steering wheel straight and set your boat to low power. The boat will reverse in a straight line. Nudge the wheel to the right and the back end of the boat will reverse to the right, or starboard.

  3. 3

    Turn the wheel to the left and the stern of the boat will reverse to the left, or port. Always use low power during reverse procedures to avoid accidents.

    Tiller Steering

  1. 1

    Face the stern of the boat, set the power to low and push the tiller to the left. The tiller attaches to the boat's rudder which lies behind and under the boat. The back end of the boat will reverse to the right.

  2. 2

    Set your tiller in position so the handle of the tiller points directly toward the bow. Adjust the power to low and do not move the tiller left or right. The boat will reverse in a straight line.

  3. 3

    Set the power to low and push the tiller to the right. The back end of the boat will reverse to the left.

    Outboard Motor Steering

  1. 1

    Adjust the gear selector to reverse and set the power to low. Hold the hand grip of the outboard motor steady, neither to the right or left, and the boat will reverse in a straight line.

  2. 2

    Grasp the motor hand grip and push it to the right. The stern of the boat will reverse to port. Concentrate on your surroundings and direction of travel to avoid colliding with other structures or vessels.

  3. 3

    Push the hand grip of the motor to the left. The stern of the boat will reverse to the right.

Tips and warnings

  • Notify all passengers on board of an upcoming change in direction.
  • A fast reverse speed can lead to an accident.

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