Minimum Control Speed


  • Practice and develop the boat handling skill of operating a boat with control at the slowest possible speed (slower than at idle speed) when docking, approaching a ramp or mooring, or maneuvering in a marina

Setting Up the Drill:

  • Equipment: 2 buoys
  • Trainer sets 2 buoys in the water about 30 seconds to one minute apart at idle speed.
  • If possible, align the buoys with a distant object or a 3rd buoy that can be used as a range for the operators to stay on course between the 2 buoys.
  • For beginning operators, align the buoys with the wind or current (whichever is stronger).
  • For sufficiently advanced operators, align the buoys crosswind or crosscurrent (whichever is stronger)

Conducting the Drill:

  • Operator traverses between the 2 buoys at idle speed and notes the time that it takes.
  • Operator then traverses between the 2 buoys in the same direction, controlling the boat’s speed by using intermittent power so that it takes twice the time.
  • Operator should remain on course between the 2 buoys.

Teaching Tips:

  • Review how the range (a distant object or a 3rd buoy) can be used to stay on course.
  • Operators start from a dead stop at the 1st

Common Errors:

  • Not staying on course between the 2 buoys.
  • Not shifting smoothly or frequently enough.
  • Starting at too fast a speed.


  • Safe Powerboating Handling On-Water Skill Standard 3.1 and its rubrics
  • Start Powerboating Right! textbook pg. 45