Aug 272010

Why is it that time and again, center console boats aside, boat makers place the driver’s seat on the starboard side? They are by no means obligated to do so. But if they didn’t, they would run into two standards in the recreational boating industry that wouldn’t work well with their boat: right-hand engine control boxes and right-hand rotation propeller drive systems. While it is possible that controls and drives can be reversed, it would be at great inconvenience (and confusion) to engine manufacturers, dealers and the boating public.

Opposing forces dictate that a right-hand rotating propeller makes the drive system, attached to the boat, rotate (lean) to the left. Fortunately not by a lot, mind you, because most of the prop force pushes the boat in the desired direction. But by cleverly placing the weight of the driver on the right, it balances out the natural tendency for the boat to lean left while under power. Obviously this is not a perfect science, but if a lone driver were instead placed on the other side of a small boat, the lean from the torque would be especially noticeable. It’s something the boat makers are wise to avoid.

Prop RotationLooking at the aft side of a propeller, you can tell its rotation by visualizing which way it has to turn to slice forward through the body of water, a lot like a corkscrew. If it must turn clockwise, then it is a right-hand rotation propeller (standard).

A left-hand rotation propeller and drive system is used on multi-engine boats to balance prop and steering torque. They are also standard on specialty Yanmar-powered boats and appear on a lot of Volvo drives. There are some single left-hand outboards around that were originally mounted on multi-engine boats. A wide assortment of Solas and Rubex left-hand props are available to enhance these applications.

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