Pivot Turn
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Pivot Turn

August 13, 2019


In this session, you’ll learn how to turn your boat by safely executing a pivot turn
of at least one-hundred eighty degrees within a space of one-to-two boat lengths. What problems are we trying to avoid? When turning your boat into the opposite direction
from which it’s traveling, taking more than three boat lengths
to complete the turn. Frequently shifting into the wrong gear. Turning your helm in the wrong direction. Turning your helm while in gear. And not maintaining a lookout
throughout the entire maneuver. So, how do we do it right? Start with your boat in neutral and at rest. Turn your helm hard over in the opposite direction
from the direction you would like to make the pivot turn. Most single engines have right-handed propellers so turning counter-clockwise will be easiest. Smoothly shift into reverse gear at idle speed
to start the turn. Starting with reverse first will minimize
the total space used for the turn. As the boat starts to turn
and before advancing any distance forward, shift into neutral gear and then quickly turn
your helm hard over in the opposite direction. Shift into forward gear at idle speed
to continue the turn smoothly in the original direction that you
started the turn. Keep your eye on a fixed point on shore
to help ensure that your boat does not go too far forward or backward as it turns. Repeat these maneuvers as needed
until the boat is turned one-hundred eighty degrees –
or to the equivalent of six o’clock – within ten yards. Turn the helm only while in neutral so as not to upset your boat’s pivoting movement
or swing and turn it quickly. Shift gears smoothly. Implement smooth throttle control
using the appropriate amount of power. A strong current or windy conditions
will require more time when moving upwind than downwind. To stop the pivot turn, shift into neutral, leave the helm in its position, and smoothly shift into the opposite gear until the boat stops turning. Shift back into neutral, center the wheel,
shift smoothly into forward gear to proceed ahead. Maintain a proper lookout during entire maneuver. If your boat has two engines,
there are two methods you can use. The first is a refinement of the single engine technique. Only shift the outside engine into gear –
the starboard engine when the wheel is hard left – the port engine with the wheel hard right. This way you’re only using the most effective
engine based on its location and prop thrust
to make the turn. The second method is to use both engines at once. Center the wheel, smoothly shift one engine into reverse at the same time as you shift the other into forward. Adjust the throttle to keep the boat in place. Adding reverse if the boat drifts forward, Or forward if the boat drifts backward. With practice, you’ll be able to turn your boat by safely executing a pivot turn
of at least one-hundred eighty degrees within a space of one to two boat lengths.

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