Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Every boat rides like a dream. So you’d think if you, like David St. Hubbins, believed virtually everything you read. On the water there are ways to back up such bold marketing claims. Run down this quick checklist to determine if the ride you’re on is actually a good handling boat.

How quickly does it plane? Runabouts and sportboats should be in the 3-4 second vicinity. Longer than 6 seconds–it’s a dog. Small cruisers and cabin boats should be in the 8 second range. 10 seconds or more is slow going.

Does it Squat? Do you lose sight of the water in front of  due to bowrise you when you throttle down? Most planing hulls will have some sort of bowrise climbing over the hump, but too much squat is the sign of a dog.

How Does it Turn? With a properly trimmed boat you should be able to execute a hard-over turn at 30 mph, as per recommendation of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC). If the boat feels out of control at that speed, it’s not a good handling hull. The best boats can execute hard turns at 3/4 speed up to wide-open throttle.

Any Porpoising? Bobbing up and down in the water at planing speeds like an aquatic mammal is not a good sign. In flat seas, the boat should not display a lot of up and down bow movement or lean to one side, but should ride smoothly and level across the beam.

How Does It Track? You shouldn’t have to constantly  work the helm to maintain a straight course in flat conditions. With the drives set straight, the boat should be able to hold a course. Point the bow at a target and see how long it stays on it without wheel correction.

There are many more, but these five will help you get a good general impression of a boat’s ride.