Steer a Range – Inbound


  • Practice and develop the skill of steering and maintaining an inbound range. This skill can be used to maintain a safe course in a channel.

Setting Up the Drill:

  • Equipment: 2 buoys or use an existing range.
  • Position 2 buoys several boat lengths apart.
  • For beginning operators, align the buoys with the wind or current (whichever is stronger).
  • For sufficiently advanced operators, align the buoys crosscurrent or crosswind (whichever is stronger).
  • If there is an existing range, use it instead of the 2 buoys.

Conducting the Drill:

  • From a position about 200 yards from the buoys, operators take turns approaching the range from the side and intercepting and steering inbound on the range, then circle back clear of the range for another run with either same or another operator.

Teaching Tips:

  • Repeat the drill until all operators have successfully completed steering an inbound range.
  • If drifting off the range, teach operators to make a correction of a fixed number, such as 15 degrees. When back on the range, take half of the correction to see whether that will keep the boat on the range.
  • Emphasize the principle of turning in the direction of the near marker when intercepting or staying on a range (e.g., if near marker is to the left of the far marker, turn left).
  • Use different colored buoys to differentiate front and far markers of the range.

Common Errors:

  • Turning helm in wrong direction when steering to intercept or stay on the range.
  • Chasing the bearing rather than use a series of systematic heading changes.


  • Safe Powerboating Handling On-Water Skill Standard 4.8 and its rubrics
  • Safety & Rescue Boat Handling On-Water Skill Standard 2.1 and its rubrics

Safety, Rescue & Support Boat Handling textbook pg. 78