This whole week I got really lucky and was able to get behind the wheel of several new boats. Starting with the two Chaparrals at the annual dealer meeting, assisting in performing a PDC test on a 2013 Four Winns 375, and driving my tipsy friends back from the sandbar aboard a Chaparral Sunesta Extreme, one thing became clear to me: My desire to drive a boat has moved beyond the initial thrill of the challenge of doing something unexpected. I really, truly, love driving a boat. I love to feel the water under me, and the wind in my face. It is so freeing.
While I was running all these boats, I learned a few new things, too…
1. First of all, wearing sunblock is of the utmost importance.
2. If you can afford a sterndrive joystick docking system, then get one. Even if you enjoy the thrill of manual docking, if you ever needed a less experienced passenger to help you dock, you’d be covered.
3. When you are running a big boat, air can get up under it. And when this happens, the coolant shifts away from the components it is supposed to keep cool (such as the generator). The boat’s systems will then cause those components to automatically shut down to avoid overheating, which I thought was pretty smart of these marine engineers. The depth finder is also one of those components.
4. The waters just outside Biscayne Bay are surprisingly shallow. We were in 6 – 10 ft waters the whole time even when Miami was barely visible in the distance.
5. You have to be ballsy. Sometimes when you’re driving a boat, you HAVE to go fast, and sometimes you’ll see boats coming at you. My initial reaction is usually to backpedal… but you can’t do that. You have to keep on going… just like in real life.