Let’s be honest.  Everyone likes to see a good digger.  There are whole TV shows dedicated to watching people eating it. Problem is you’re driving the boat and you don’t have a mirror.  * Why people don’t use their mirror while driving the boat should be a whole other topic we aren’t going to get into today. End rant. 

You hear that ohh so familiar “DOWN”.    And another one bites the dust.  Your rider bailed or maybe they just gave up……  

You turn that boat around, give it a little bit of throttle to get back to the rider and Woosh!!  Water over the bow and your wife’s friend Brenda is a tad bit upset. She came to watch, not get wet. (We thought it was funny.)  

If this sounds all too familiar read on.   We got you covered.

Here are a few tips to keep you and your boat dry and get back to your rider in one piece without pissing off Brenda. 

1:  You have identified your rider is down and it’s time to turn around.  Give that boat a real quick scan to make sure you aren’t going to send anyone flying.   Kids love to move around, and they also make excellent bowling balls flying through the boat.   Please encourage your friends and kids to be seated while the boat is underway. This is for everyone’s safety and is good practice.   

2: Once the coast is clear start cutting the throttle.  It’s really good practice to use one or two fingers to pull back on that throttle.  If you death grip the throttle there is a chance you can pull that throttle past neutral and into reverse.    Not only is there a higher chance of redeploying those bowling balls but it’s not the greatest on your boat.   Your boat is expensive.  Treat it that way!!  No one enjoys having to get their boat repaired unnecessarily. 

3.  As you are cutting back on your throttle give the boat a slight turn away from the side that the rider was on.  This will help swing the boat just that little bit required.  

At this point make sure you pull the boat completely into neutral.   The most common mistake we see when slowing down to pick up the rider is people leaving the boat in gear.   This will cause the boat to push itself through a turn rather than slide and pivot.   When you get pushed through the turn it makes the radius of that turn much larger, puts you over bigger rollers and takes up valuable time.  

*You are really trying to spin that boat in the same place you are cutting the throttle.   Play with it a bit.  Try it out a few different ways.   Start small with turning that wheel (what starts the swing) with still a little bit of throttle.  My boat (Cenutrion RI 237) likes a bunch of throttle while I start the swing before I cut it.  I’m pretty aggressive with it but if you were in the boat you wouldn’t know.  The key to being a good boat driver is that no one should notice your driving. NO one goes flying, no water over the bow, the music volume is adjusted to match the activities.   People really only should notice bad boat driving.  Don’t be that person!  

4. Once the boat is in neutral you should be turned part of the way around towards your rider. Here comes another important part.  

5. WAIT!   The longer you wait to put the boat back in gear the better off you are going to be.   Let those rollers pass you by.   Guess what happens.   They help spin the stern(back) of the boat even further around pointing your bow towards your rider which just happens to be where you are headed.  

6. Give the boat a little throttle and head towards your rider to pick them up.  

* When heading back to retrieve your rider you should always keep your rider in view of the driver at all times while picking them up.  This usually means picking them up on the driver side of the boat if you are going to go past them.   If you don’t know where your rider is or lose track of them, please stop the boat and make sure it’s in neutral.  The last thing anyone wants is an avoidable incident where someone gets struck by the boat or even worse an incident with the propeller.  This is why we suggest feathering the boat in and out of gear.  Depending on the boat you are driving it may still have the surf system deployed.  This will give the boat the tendency to pull the same direction that you would have turned.  That way is the opposite of the side your rider was surfing on. Feathering it gives you the opportunity to make small corrections and keep the boat a reasonable speed to be picking someone up at.   Picking people up at full idol should be reserved for only the most experienced of riders and boat drivers.  There’s nothing more frustrating then missing the rope, getting dragged or losing your board because one of the two parties is rushing it.  Honestly in some situations we have witnessed it’s just downright dangerous. 

7.  As you make your final approach to your rider you should be in neutral.   

8. Have your trusty spotter/rope tosser throw that rope out and Voila. 

 You have successfully picked up your rider.  You didn’t soak the boat, you didn’t come crashing back through your waves rattling everyone’s teeth out, the kids didn’t turn into bowling balls, Brenda is happy, You didn’t even take up half the lake turning around throwing rollers every which direction.  Congrats, you did it like a pro.