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Old 04-20-2010, 02:08 PM   #1
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Default New to a sterndrive

I have owned a pontoon boat for the past 12 years and have loved it, but I thought I would like the Cruiser style boating. So in January I purchased a 1997 Maxum 2400 SCR. I have enjoyed installing the flatscreen TV and stereo equipment that I couldn't have on the pontoon. So now I have had a chance to get it on the water. I like the speed that the sterndrive gets over the outboard on our pontoon, but the problem is that when I am at Idle or just above it will not stay in a straight line. Our pontoon boat would go straight with just a little adjustment from the wind/waves. Not like this boat, I am constantantly having to move the wheel left to right to keep it going straight. Is this they way they should be? If I get the boat to go straight and hold the steering wheel in the same position it will gradually go to one side. I adjust the wheel to the other direction and it will go that way but won't stop. So I have to move the wheel to the opposite direction, so on and so forth. It doesn't make for a very nice boat trip if I am constantly having to move the steering, just not very relaxing.

Is there a problem or just the way the cruisers steer?
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Old 04-20-2010, 02:19 PM   #2
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tj.
this is called bow wander and is common with rear engined/drive single hulled boats....the drive is trying to push the bow out of the way causing it to move left or right...make slight adjustments as the bow starts to go one direction...just as you hit ctr...move the helm slightly to the opposite direction....just a little..then you will get used to the feel and be able to correct it by instinct...
also put the drive all the way down and the tabs...that will lessen the effect....

SP
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Old 04-20-2010, 03:40 PM   #3
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tj.

also put the drive all the way down and the tabs...that will lessen the effect....

SP
I'm going to guess you meant Drive all the way down, tabs all the way UP? Tabs seem to decrease handling at these slow speeds IMHO, particularly when trying to back into a slip. I've found, like SP is stating, that oversterring is a combination of correcting to much, and for too long.

I notice people will turn the wheel until the boat starts to react, rather than turning it a little and waiting for the bow to start coming around. Then once they're past where they wanted to be, they start turning in the other direction to correct and keep turning the wheel until the boat begins to react again. It took me a while to get used to turning the wheel and waiting for the reaction. I find that you can almost stop turning and start centering the wheel as soon as the bow starts to move in the direction you're trying to correct, then by the time the bow is pointing where you want, you have actually stopped turning ( or at least slowed) at that point. Sometimes centering the wheel after you've reached your bearing is too late. so if I see the bow wandering to port, I'll turn to stbd, see the bow begin to move, then center again and wait to see where it goes. You'll get used to the feeling of momentum, and will see if the bow is coming to stbd too quickly and begin to anticipate overshooting you bearing. If this is the case, I give the wheel a quick turn back to port and then center again and watch the bow center out (hopefully).

I too have looked like a drunken sailor at slow speeds. I've found that sometimes, kicking the RPM's up enough to maintain steerage without actually creating a wake helps a ton as well.
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Old 04-20-2010, 04:45 PM   #4
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Took me a while to get used to the low speed "wander" while moving through a "no wake" zone or as I approach the dock. More annoying than anything else. Granted my boat is much smaller than yours, but what I have found that works the best is to simply keep the steering wheel straight as opposed to trying to compensate by turning it and the bow usually (no winds, no strong current) comes back on it's own. In other words, don't "chase" the wander....just my .02 and can make change...........
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Old 04-20-2010, 06:16 PM   #5
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I thought I read somewhere that trim tabs - slightly deployed, will also lessen bow steer/wander at no wake speed. I would also think that if the boat is drifting, to starboard for example, that dropping the port trim tab a bit to create some drag could also do the trick.

Above assumes one has trim tabs.

Mine will this season (almost finished with the install), but didn't last season. I got better at keeping it straight but was still a constant series of small corrections.

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Old 04-20-2010, 06:55 PM   #6
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I'm going to guess you meant Drive all the way down, tabs all the way UP?
nope..I meant to deploy the tabs all the way down..that will create drag on the stern and help to lessen the effects of bow wander...
in a stern drive boat...your never going to get rid of the bow wander ..it's the physics of the boat....but you can lessen it by drive down...tabs down...

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Old 04-20-2010, 07:42 PM   #7
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Sounds like it is normal and just something to get used to.

I have been trying to not oversteer, but still doesn't work. I think I just need to steer straight and let it go where it wants to go unless it is too far port or strbrd, then correct slightly. I will also try with the trim tabs all the way down.

It just isn't as easy as the outboard on the pontoon.
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Old 04-20-2010, 08:18 PM   #8
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Might also check that the steering cables/linkages are in good shape and tight. http://www.sterndrives.com/steering_play.html

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Old 04-21-2010, 03:16 PM   #9
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Thought I would throw my .02 cents in concerning trim tabs, make sure you do NOT have trim tabs all the way down when operating in reverse around docks etc. as they are meant to drag not plow through the water.
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Old 04-22-2010, 08:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjwieseler View Post
.... the problem is that when I am at Idle or just above it will not stay in a straight line. ?
Outdrives are not good at tickover speeds, they need forward momentum ..... they are also very inefficient at this speed.
There is also the paddle wheel effect that works against you at very low speeds, it tends to push stern sideways rather than forwards.
Trim Tabs right down should help .... ]when you want to 'idle' about.
Fishermen use these to keep boats at slow trolling speeds.
As pointed out - don't forget them though.
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:42 PM   #11
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Tabs down whiel off plane. Interesting. I guess you learn something new every day.
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Old 04-22-2010, 05:14 PM   #12
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My TABS are always down when off plane ... this pushes transom up, and keeps bow down .... exactly what I want ... i.e. stops bow rise.

As boat picks up speed TABS will start to retract (if not fixed) and move to be more parallel to hull when at fast planing speed.

Having TABS down while off plane is certainly normal for me, it aids starts, reduces time to plane and helps low speed stability.
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Old 04-23-2010, 03:31 AM   #13
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My 21 foot had this bad..... I thought it was called chine walking? Anyway I bought and installed the Sting RayŽ XRIII Hydrofoil Stabilizer and it helped a TON.
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Old 04-23-2010, 01:25 PM   #14
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Chine walking is usually at high speed not slow speed .. typically it come in at a certian speed .. back off throttle a little and it clears.
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