Boating often brings with it visions of cruising picturesque shorelines, or perhaps firewalling the throttle and running off into the sunset. More and more of today’s boating enthusiasts, however, are discovering that their boats are just as fun when not underway but rather nestled alongside dozens of friends in the nearest party cove. It’s a phenomenon that has even impacted boat design, with more and more models showcasing coving-focused seating and lounge areas at the transom and swim platform. These areas are designed to be enjoyed not while your boat is tearing across the water, but instead when it’s nosed into the nearest beach or sandbar.
Traditionally, these skinny waters have been thought of as the domain of sterndrives or outboards, power choices that can be trimmed for running in shallow conditions. But inboard and V-drive owners needn’t miss out on the fun. With the proper precautions and a little easily learned technique, they can easily join the party.
In fact, the process isn’t all that different from those employed by your sterndrive counterparts. First and foremost, make sure you know the beach or shoreline you’ll be approaching. Scout it out in advance, or ask your fellow boaters if it has a shallow approach or features a nice drop-off. You don’t need excessive depth. Most inboards and V-drives only draw 24”-27” of water, usually more than enough when approaching the shore bow first.
Once you know what to expect, come into the shore gradually, using short taps of throttle rather than powering in unchecked. When your bow contacts the shore, resist the urge to power your boat into a secure position. In reality, you only need 3”-4” to secure the bow and hold your boat in place. Once there, keep an eye on any tides, current or wind to make certain your boat remains perpendicular to the shoreline. Though inboard and V-drive hardware is quite resilient, getting distracted and allowing your boat to drift sideways into the shore is a sure way to risk damage to your prop, driveshaft and rudder. For true peace of mind, toss out a stern anchor to ensure your boat stays in place.
When it comes time to leave the party, again, a slow-and-steady approach is key. Unlike a sterndrive’s vectored thrust, an inboard or V-drive will tend to back best in one direction. Know in advance which direction that is, and use this knowledge to back easily off the sand. Just like when nosing into the shore, use small, controlled “nudges” of power. Should your path begin to wander, correct it with brief applications of forward throttle and the appropriate turn of the wheel, before returning to neutral. In this fashion, you should be able to pivot the boat back into the correct direction.
And while you’re hanging out at the sandbar, don’t forget to enjoy some of an inboard’s biggest advantages. Swimmers can freely swim up to the stern without concern of an exposed prop, and those expansive swim platforms that make gearing up for skiing and wakeboarding so easy offer unmatched waterfront real estate when lounging at the stern.