boat leaning to one side

Boat Leaning to One Side? Here’s Why + Actionable Tips

Boat leaning to one side is quite a serious issue – if you do not deal with it, you may face damage to your boat or cargo, seasickness, and even people going overboard.

If you notice that your boat is listing to one side but don’t know to fix that, read on – this blog has a few tips to share with you today.



Boat Leaning to One Side – Why and How to Fix it?

Uneven Weight Distribution

Uneven weight distribution is perhaps the most common cause of lean in boats. Not only that, but this is the easiest-to-solve cause of leaning. If this is actually what you are dealing with, then consider yourself lucky.

boat leans to one side under power
Uneven weight distribution of boat

Now, how can you determine that your boat is unevenly loaded? Well, unless you’ve placed all your stuff on one side of the boat, there’s no way to identify disbalance. You’ll have to determine whether imbalance truly is the root of the issue with trial and error.

The only case where you can more or less accurately identify list is when the boat is at rest in calm water. If your boat leans to one side at rest, then you can be sure that you are dealing with a weight imbalance.

Fixing Uneven Weight Distribution

Look around your boat and find heavy objects that you can relocate. If you want to be really precise about the process, you could even weight your goods and then distribute the items evenly.

Most likely, you do not have the time to be so meticulous. Well, you could try to relocate items one by one and use a level to measure how even the boat gets. If there are passengers onboard, then you could also move them to different parts of the boat to alleviate the issue.


Trim Tab Position

You may balance out the lean in your boat by adjusting its trim tabs. The trim tabs are situated at the transom of the boat on both sides. Typically, the trim tabs can be controlled independently, providing you with more flexibility in adjustment.

Trim tabs allow you to adjust the lift at each side of the vessel. You may regulate the trim tabs on the go to compensate for uneven weight distribution, wind, or water conditions.

Assuming there is no wind, your weight is evenly distributed, and the water is calm, unevenly angled trim tabs will cause your boat to lean to one side. When you aim a trim tab downwards, that side of the stern will rise.

Benefits and functionality of trim tabs.

Solving Lean with Trim Tab Adjustment

Based on what we’ve just explained, if your boat is leaning to the right – that is, its right side is lower than the left – you should point the right trim tab downward. This will lift the right side up, hopefully solving the issue.

Play around with the angles to achieve a balanced boat position. But remember that depending on water conditions, wind, and weight distribution, you may need to readjust the trim tabs to even out the boat.


Propeller Torque

If your boat leans to one side under power, then you are most likely dealing with propeller torque.

boat propeller
Boat propeller

Torque is the twisting force of any shaft, including the propeller of your boat. When going forward, the propeller turns clockwise. The torque from the rotation of the shaft causes the boat to turn and lean in the opposite direction – in this case, to the right.

When the propeller is in reverse – that is, rotating counterclockwise – the boat may lean toward the right.

Propeller torque is actually an issue in airplanes as well, and the cause is the same – Newton’s third law. Aside from that, the propeller is the most efficient between noon and 3 o’clock.

Solving Propeller Torque

You cannot eliminate propeller torque fully. As long as there is torque, your boat will tend to steer in one direction. If you lower the torque, you will reduce the effect of leaning but not completely eliminate it.

With that said, you could give the following fixes a try:

  • If possible, the driver should be on the starboard side to balance the lean. If you sit on the port side, you will make the lean even worse.
  • Trim the boat out on plane. The goal of this step is to move the rotation away from perpendicular to the boat. Again, this won’t eliminate lean, but it may be able to significantly reduce it.
  • Switch to a higher-pitched propeller. Essentially, the higher the pitch, the lower the propeller torque will be. However, you may lose acceleration and struggle to get on plane.

Wind

Wind is another likely cause of boat leaning. It’s especially noticeable in V-hulls, though any kind of boat may heel.

boat leaning
Boat leaning due to wind

Solving Heeling

Needless to say, you cannot turn off wind. Instead, you will have to adapt to it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Shift cargo or crew towards the side that is lifted. This way, you will redistribute the weight, compensating for the lean caused by wind.
  • Adjust the angling of the trim tabs. As explained earlier, on the side that is down, you should point the trim tab downward to lift the boat up.
  • Just alter your course. If this is not possible, then you should use the previous two methods.

Unevenly Installed Hydrofoil

If you have hydrofoil over the motor, then one of the two things may be happening:

  • The hydrofoil is uneven.
  • The hydrofoil exacerbates the uneven position of the motor.

Here’s what you should do to troubleshoot and fix uneven hydrofoil:

  1. Take the boat out of the water and place it onto your trailer.
  2. Set the steering in the center.
  3. Tilt the boat upright so that it is straight and down.
  4. Step back and take a look at the motor assembly. If the motor is off-center, you should be able to notice that.
  5. Make sure that the motor’s height is correct as well.
  6. After fixing the motor’s position, make sure that the hydrofoil is not off-center and is perpendicular to the cavitation plate.

boat listing to one side
Boat listing to one side.

Waterlogging

If there are any cracks in your boat’s hull, then water may have soaked into the foam inside the boat. Depending on when you discover the issue, you could be dealing with hundreds of pounds of extra weight to one side.

Waterlogging is a very serious issue, and lean is its least dangerous symptom. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to detect.

If your leaning boat is at rest without any crew or cargo onboard, then you can be sure that foam is waterlogged somewhere.

Solving Waterlogging

Although waterlogging is easy to diagnose, it is very difficult to treat. To deal with waterlogging, you will need to:

man repairing the boat
Man repairing the boat
  1. Remove the deck.
  2. Investigate the foam to identify saturated spots.
  3. Remove the waterlogged foam.
  4. Dry out the foam.
  5. Place the foam back in its place.
  6. Seal everything.

Unless you have considerable experience in boat foam repairs, don’t attempt to DIY your way out of this issue – call a professional.


Boat Listing to one Side – Final Words

If you notice your boat leaning to one side, don’t wait any minute – try to determine what’s the cause and fix it.

But do remember that due to changing weather conditions, you will always have to deal with some lean. As long as you detect and treat it, it should not be a huge problem.

References

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