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How to Drive a Speed Boat

Updated March 23, 2017

Driving a speed boat is an exciting outdoor activity for water lovers everywhere. Speedboats offer many different types of experiences, including water skiing, paragliding, fishing and boating. Operating a boat is close enough to operating a car that most experienced drivers can get the hang of driving a boat pretty quickly, adding on the skills for driving faster as more experience is gained. Just like in operating a car, safety is the key rule in driving speed boats.

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  1. File a float plan and let someone know where you are going. Having this information available is vital should an emergency situation keep you from making it back to shore; others will know where to start looking for you.

  2. Check weather forecasts. Always know what the weather is like; don't go boating if a storm is expected.

  3. Ensure that everyone on board has a life vest that properly fits. A life vest that is too big will easily come off if the boater falls overboard.

  4. Carry a flare gun and GPS with you at all times for emergency situations. It can be easy to get turned around in the open water. The flare will help others to spot you and the GPS will help you find your way.

  5. Take an experienced driver with you your first time out if possible. Allow them to show you their techniques and work with you on building your own.

  6. Start off learning to drive a straight line. Ease the throttle up, keeping it at a comfortable speed. Add more throttle as you feel comfortable.

  7. Make short downward chopping motions to counter the propeller torque as you continue to pick up speed. Keep movements quick in time with the wobble of the boat and no more than an inch at a time to keep it trimmed and straight. Learn the rhythm to steer and even keep it going straight at the boat's highest speeds.

  8. Trim the engine down a little and cross wakes at a 45-degree angle.

  9. Learn to navigate in rough waters with experience. Depending on how rough the water is, slowing the boat way down is essential. Timing larger waves becomes essential as they grow above three and four feet in height.

  10. Tip

    Follow the rules depicted by your state on boating laws and safety. (see References)


    Don't push yourself to go faster than you are ready to go. Be aware of everything else going on in the water.

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Things You'll Need

  • Life jacket for each person on board
  • Emergency flares
  • Emergency supplies
  • Emergency radio
  • Cell or satellite phone

About the Author

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