Boating Tips: Boat Maneuverability

Welcome to Boating Tips with MarineMax! Knowing how to maneuver your boat is a critical part of boating that is essential for everyone from beginners to experts and can make for a better and easier day on the water. Ask your questions, make comments, and learn a thing or two about your favorite outdoor activity.

In this recap, we delve into the intricacies of trim tabs and other maneuverability features.

Engine Trim Basics:

Understanding engine trim is essential for achieving the best performance on the water. Engine trim refers to the vertical angle of the outboard engine, and it plays a significant role in controlling the boat's behavior. Lifting the engine raises the boat's bow, while lowering it enhances stability, particularly in shallow waters. Trim tabs come into play to help right the boat while running. It essentially can balance the boat and help dial in the trim so that it is trimmed to the right level. A properly trimmed boat assists with safe and efficient navigation.

Joystick Control and Steering Precision:

Joystick controls for steering offer precise control in various scenarios. The joystick system can be used to make incremental turns of one or ten degrees, providing flexibility and ease of navigation. The system proves particularly valuable in narrow waterways and challenging docking situations. The auto-heading function maintains the boat on a specific course without manual steering. Joystick control, in conjunction with the auto heading feature, allows for incremental adjustments to the boat's direction. Tools like these not only enhance maneuverability but also alleviate common fears associated with docking. These tools are not a form of cheating but rather essential components of a boater's toolbox.

Chartplotter Orientation

North-up orientation is a view on your chart plotter in which the north direction is in the “up” position, in other words at the top of the screen. Some people find this view helpful because they can relate the view to a compass and have a view of their navigation at large.

Heads-Up Orientation

In heads-up orientation, compass directions don’t matter as much. In other words, the screen display is similar to driving a car, in that whatever is on your left or right appears on your screen in the corresponding location. The top of your screen isn’t showing “north”, but rather what is directly in front of you/the direction that you are heading.


You can adjust your chart plotter’s orientation simply by navigating through your settings. Because this is such an individualized topic, it helps to try both settings to see which you prefer.


Mastering boat trim and utilizing advanced navigation features can significantly enhance a boater's experience on the water. This recap provides valuable insights into maneuverability for efficiency and safety. For a more in depth understanding, check out some of our boater's safety courses. By incorporating these practices, boaters can navigate with confidence and enjoy a smoother, more enjoyable journey on the open water. We’ll see you out there.

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