Boat Like A Pro is Axis’ boating guide to teach you all the boating basics so you can have the ultimate day on the water. Everything up to this point was just leading up to the main event: driving. You’re the captain and you hold the keys to the perfect summer, but you’ve got to know a few things first.
First things first, safety needs to be the number one priority. Fortunately, Axis is an inboard boat, which is inherently safer for swimmers because the propeller is tucked under the boat. Still, it’s important to always turn the motor off when swimmers are in the water or you leave the helm. Kids 12 and under should always wear their Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)s at all times when in the boat or in the water. When you’re getting ready to leave the dock, attach the emergency engine cutoff switch safety lanyard to yourself and make sure the other end is attached to the cutoff switch on the boat. Next, run the blower for a few minutes, get your crew situated in the boat, make sure the throttle is in neutral and start the engine.
Leaving The Dock
Take things slow here at first. The crew should unhook the dock lines and pull the fenders in, then give the boat a good solid push away from the dock. The tendency is to push the bow out first, which is a good idea, but make sure you push the stern as well so you have plenty of clearance for the swim platform. Pull up on the neutral lock button on the throttle to go forward or backward. It takes a little while to get used to driving a boat because it turns different than most things, but with a little practice in open water you’ll get the hang of it. Turn gradually away from the dock until your swim platform is clear.
Driving an inboard is really easy and fun when you get the hang of it. Rest your forearm on the armrest or the gunwale—whichever feels more comfortable—and ease the throttle forward. The boat won’t be quite as responsive to turns at slow speeds, so get used to that in open water. When underway, your Axis’s precision throttle and steering will feel more like a car with an immediate response when you adjust things at the helm. When you’re feeling comfortable, fill the ballast and practice driving at different speeds to see how the boat responds. While underway, all crew should ride in the cockpit or bow of the boat at all times.
Wake And Wave Set Up
Axis makes it easy to get started with watersports by providing simple buttons that correspond to what you want to do with the boat. For example, if you want to fill the ballast, the button is at your fingertips. Just clear your gear out of the compartments if you have Plug ‘n’ Play ballast and fill it up. Want to put the Power Wedge III up or down? The button is right there on the dash. Same goes for Surf Gate. Set the cruise control where you want it for your sport (beginner wakeboarding is around 21 miles per hour and beginner surfing is around 10 miles per hour) and you’re all set. You can always adjust things on the fly as well.
First and most important, make sure your rider has a US Coast Guard-approved PFD on. Attach the rope to the main tow point on the tower for wakeboarding and surfing, grab their board out of the rack and have them hop in the water. When they are away from the platform, start the engine and idle forward until the line is taut. Wait for the rider to say “hit it” (“go” sounds too much like “no”), and accelerate slowly to give your rider a smooth pull out of the water. The cruise control will engage at your preset speed, so your main job is to watch out in front of you while your crew watches out for the rider. If your state requires it, have your observer ready to raise a flag when the rider falls. If possible try to signal your rider when you plan to make a turn as well.
When your rider falls, slow down gradually and let the wave pass if you’re surfing. Turn at idle speed so the rider is on your starboard side and you can easily see how close they are to the boat. Be careful not to run the rope over as you circle around. Unless it’s an emergency and you need to get back to the rider quickly, don’t circle back to them at speed. This is called a power turn and besides messing up the glassy water for you and every other crew on the lake for a good 15 minutes, it can also be more dangerous for the rider. When you get back to the rider, have your spotter throw them the rope if they’re going again, or turn the boat off if their set is over.
Don’t Be A Kook
We all know kooks, they have no respect for their waterway, homeowners, or other riders. Don’t be that guy. Instead, stay in at least 10 feet of water (you won’t get as much out of your wake or wave in anything shallower anyway) and 200 feet away from other boats, docks and shorelines. Try not to blast your music too loud or cut anyone off either.
No Wake Zones
Pay attention to these. They are important for a lot of reasons. They are usually marked with a circle on a sign or a buoy that says “No Wake” or “Idle Speed.” Don’t go fast enough to make a wake in these areas.
Shallow Areas And Obstructions
This goes back to staying off the Qualified Captain. Many waterways have areas that are too shallow to boat. They are typically marked with signs that say something like “Danger” or “Rock.” When in doubt, seek a local’s knowledge or steer well clear.
Like almost all inboard boats, your Axis will back to the right because of prop torque. It’s a good idea to practice backing up in open water to get used to the feeling. It’s also a good idea to practice docking (without the dock) by coming in slowly and hitting reverse to kick the rear end around. Imagine where the dock would be and try to adjust your speed to come in slowly with the boat parallel.