Tips to Alleviate Lean, List and Heel

Reasons for list, and how to alleviate the problem.

We get tons of email regarding the problems of leaning, listing and heeling boats. A boat not riding on its lines can be dangerous, as well as uncomfortable, as maneuverability is curtailed. Here are some reasons for list and some things you can do to alleviate the problem.

If your boat lists at rest, there is too much weight on one side. It could be gear or it could be water trapped in a stringer bay.

Solution: Investigate. Take inventory. Rebalance supplies; reposition crew if underway. Address water ingress and drain or dry.


Prop Torque
It’s normal for a right-hand-turning prop to cause heeling to port in a single-engine application. The reason is that a prop is most efficient in the upper, down-moving quadrant of its rotation (between noon and 3 o’clock for a right-hand propeller) and so creates more lift on the starboard side; thus the boat lists to port.

Solution: Trim out more once on plane. The further from perpendicular to the boat the rotation gets, the less listing leverage it can exert. Use a prop with more pitch (within rpm limits).

V-hulls tend to lean to windward. This heeling results from turning slightly into the wind to maintain a straight course. Also, prop torque results in more lean than on flatter-bottomed boats.


Solution: Shift supplies or crew. Use trim tabs. Alter course (if possible).

Engine Trim
Running with the drive trimmed in exacerbates prop torque.

Solution: It’s correct to trim the engine in when achieving plane. But up and running, trim out to lift the bow, and, as it pertains to listing and heeling, reduce the effect of prop torque.