Get It Right!

Get It Right! - Trim Tabs
Get it Right!

Trim tabs save time and money and nix handling hassles.

By Capt. Bill Pike — June 2002


Illustration: Jeff Grunewald
 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Trim Tabs
• Part 2: Trim Tabs
• Part 3: Trim Tabs

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• Feature Index

One of the perils of owning a boathouse with a boat or two inside it are unscheduled boat rides. Relatives show up unexpectedly. Or friends. Even strangers. And after a polite interval, the inevitable question arises, "Got time for a little spin?" Which is totally cool, of course, especially for a guy like me who enjoys just about every kind of boat ride there is.

Nevertheless, unscheduled boat rides often involve one or more passengers with little knowledge of boats, a state of affairs that sometimes precipitates operational hassles. For example, some friends fell by my house, Mullet Mansion, recently and within minutes began wondering aloud whether we all might take "a little spin," either in my offshore boat, the Scrumpy Vixen, or my inshore boat, the Mullet Chasseur.

"Better take the Scrump," I suggested, given the large size of the group that wanted to go. A virtual chess game of dynamic trim on the high seas ensued. More to the point, because the folks who filed aboard had little idea of how continuously shifting weights can affect the stability and trim of a boat, they proceeded to carom around my wheelhouse, cabin, and cockpit like rampant gazelles on a savanna. Being the great guy I am, with serious empathy for the human condition, I said nary a harsh word, choosing instead to deal with the situation by applying a nifty bit of simple boathandling technique.

Which brings me--rather circuitously, I'll admit--to the subject of this piece: trim tabs. Not only are "tabs," as they're affectionately known to most of us, great for removing excessive heel from a vessel burdened with constantly shifting passengers, but they possess a host of other virtues, among them enhanced running efficiency and the extension of usable throttle range. But to understand how tabs accomplish all this good stuff, you first have to look at how and why they work.

Next page > Trim Tabs, Part 2 > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the February 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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