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Navigating Shallow Water

Don’t be afraid of shallow water. These nine tips will help you get skinny.
Boating Safety

Shallow Water Tactics

Tactic 5
Trimming Up the Engines

Sometimes the right thing to do is as simple as trimming the engines out of the water and letting your boat float off.

Pretty obvious, right? You get caught in shallow water, and the first thing you do is trim up the engine or engines as far as you can. (Pod-drive and inboard owners can move on to the next topic.) That makes sense to a point. You don’t want to trim the drive up on takeoff or the boat will experience exaggerated bow rise climbing onto plane, digging a deeper hole. Trimming too high will also reduce steerage. Sometimes you have no choice; we’ve all seen the boats at idle speed puttering off a flat throwing a rooster tail from the exposed prop.

Other times, the drive acts as an anchor. Have you ever seen a flats guide trim his engine down to stick the skeg in the sand for a quick stop? On the flip side, the way to get unstuck can be as easy as trimming the drives as far out of the water as possible. Look at the draft numbers on many boats. With the drive down, a typical 25-footer will have a draft around three feet. Trim the drive up and the draft could shrink by a foot or more. With luck, the wind and current will help you drift to deeper water.

High & Dry
1. Trim the engines as far as you can out of the water to increase draft.
2. Shift gear and crew to the bow to offset engine weight, raising the transom a little higher in the water.
3. Wind and current may do the rest.

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