By: Bill Jennings
Not all bottoms are the same. Look around and I’m sure you’ll agree. It is important to understand this, if you want to get the most out of your bottom.
As you would figure, different boat bottoms deliver differing ride characteristics and respond differently again when running in various water conditions. Unlike automobiles, where we establish a running speed based upon posted speed limits, the bottom differences in boats mandate that once underway, we must experiment with different speeds in order to find the ‘sweet spot’ that is most comfortable.
Recognizing that the ride comfort of a specific bottom design varies with the speed the boat is travelling, we should check the affects of running at slightly different speeds each time we leave the dock. If you and your passengers feel that the ride is a little on the rough side, throttle back 200 to 300 RPM and note the ride difference. If it is not improved, throttle back another 200 to 300 RPM. If still no joy, you may be surprised to learn that increasing your speed a little at a time can also bring you a smoother ride. While it may seem illogical, running at higher speeds is an exercise that will often work well when searching for optimum comfort.
In a worst-case scenario where your boat was not designed to run on the type of water where you usually operate, you may need to get a different boat. For example, a ‘Bay Boat’ is so named for a reason. Boaters will ask if there is one bottom design recommended to run smoothly on most water conditions. The answer is no. A longer bottom, meaning a larger boat, will usually provide a smoother ride by ‘bridging waves’ to stay ‘on top’ rather than partially falling into wave troughs, but within specific boat sizes the secret of finding the ride you want is matching speed to the conditions your bottom can handle.
Your local boat dealer can be a big help in matching you up with the best bottom. They have been trained on bottom differences and can best match you up with a hull design that works best on your local waters.
And remember --- unless the water you are boating on is perfectly calm, making speed changes will always change the quality of your ride. Get in the habit of playing with speed variations to identify your bottom’s sweet spot.