Boat Listing To One Side (5 Important Thing to Know)

Boat listing to one side is a problem faced by many boaters a grave issue that should not be ignored. Apparently, a trivial issue but can prove to be detrimental to your boat.

However, the tilt of your boat is not always dangerous, at times it’s only because of rough weather. Strong winds do affect your boat and wind pressure can lean it to one side, it is nothing serious and is known as heel.

On the other hand, boat listing is a serious problem, and a timely probe into the matter is highly recommended.

Sometimes this listing is to the left side and sometimes the boat pulls to the right so we have to find out the main cause for the listing. Here are some causes that can be involved in the listing of boats.

Boat Listing To One side

There are 5 effective tips that can be considerable in boat listing.

1. Most of the time it is due to unequal distribution of weight on board. One side is overburdened with gear compared to the other side.

2. Another reason may be the wrong adjustment of trim tabs.

3. Sometimes a crack or a hole on the outer side of the boat can also be the culprit. The water will seep into it and the foam inside will be water-logged.

4. Hydrofoil is not installed correctly.

5. Prop torque can also play a part.

Unequal Distribution Of Weight

If you observe that your boat is leaning to one side, don’t take it lightly, identify the real cause behind it. First of all, find out when your boat leans.

Is it only when the boat is moving or tilting constantly even when stationary resting on calm waters? Examine it carefully when at rest, if you still see a tilt then it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

One of the major causes is an unequal distribution of weight. It usually happens when most of the load is on one side. All the heavy items are placed on one side, which makes that side heavier and resultantly tilts.


The solution to this problem is in fact quite easy. A little re-arrangement of the gear most likely would level it out.

Take out some of the extra stuff from that side and place it in the center. Now measure the list, if it’s still not satisfactory, try removing more weight from the tilted side and put it on the other side.

Hopefully, it would be balanced now otherwise check your fuel tank and engine where they are mounted. If one of them is off-center, probably it’s the reason. You can offset by moving some heavy objects to the opposite side.

Look over the transducer, where it is installed. Even the location of the helm affects the weight distribution on board.

At times the factory-fitted equipment is installed a little off-center to the starboard or port side which can cause a little tilt to that side.

However, counterbalance this effect by moving around some heavy items. If your boat lists due to unequal weight distribution, then this problem is manageable.

Try to figure out what exactly is the reason and resolve it accordingly.

Wrong Adjustment Of Trim Tabs

You’re certain that you have not stowed anything in the boat which is causing the list. Weather conditions are great and everything is on point but still, you’re experiencing a boat list.

Most probably you have adjusted the trim tabs wrongly. Trim tabs are two plates installed on the transom of the boat. When moved up or down can lift or lower the hull sides.

Trim tabs when used properly will enhance the performance of your engine, make it fuel-efficient, and the speed will be increased.

However, their adjustment is a bit tricky and needs to be adjusted constantly. No setting is perfect for the whole trip. You need to change the settings according to the weather conditions and your requirements.

When starting from a plane gradually trim up the engine, it will lower the stern and lift the bow. Slowly trim up, while keeping an eye on your speed, and RPMs.

If you experience a slow down in speed, gradually trim down a bit till you get an ideal setting.


You can’t keep any setting permanent- adjust it on the move. For instance, If the boat is leaning to the port side, perhaps due to rough weather, or passengers moving around, trim down the left tab and it will lift the port side thus lowering the starboard side.

Similarly to raise the starboard side, trim down the right button and it will lift the starboard side while dropping the port side. Trim tabs are very helpful in balancing a boat on the go. Possibly the list on your boat is due to incorrect use of trimtabs- a precise setting can sort out the issue.

Inside Of The Hull Is Water-Logged

Examine your boat from the outside, and check for any cracks or holes on the bottom. Look over for any irregularities on the hull.

There might be any sub-standard repairs or maybe the boat hit a rock or any other obstacle underway. The list in your boat is perhaps the outcome of that damaged bottom.

If this is the case then most probably, the foam inside the hull must have absorbed the water and consequently, the weight of that side has been increased.

The cracks and holes, if overlooked for some time may pose a danger to your hull. A considerable amount of water may seep into it and the foam inside will soak it thus making that part heavier than the rest of the hull which will result in a boat list.

If you observe that your boat is listing to one side without any obvious reason, even when sitting in calm waters then do check out for any damage done on the bottom.


The solution to this problem is a bit difficult. The soaked foam has to be replaced unless it is completely dry. Take out the foam from inside the deck and before putting it back ensure that the place is not damp.

It should be fully dry. Once it has dried from the inside, now lay the foam back in its place and seal the deck properly.

Hydrofoil Is Not Installed Properly

Hydrofoils are wing-like attachments for boats. They give lift and boost to the vessels. They improve the speed and lessen the drag if any.

However, it has been observed that the boats with hydrofoils experience a lean towards a side while speeding up.

It may be something else that emerged after mounting the hydrofoils or perhaps they are not installed correctly.


When your boat is on the trailer, examine it carefully. The steering wheel should be set in the middle. Now check the position of the motor, whether it is in the center or not.

The height at which the motor is mounted also affects the stability of the boat.

Ensure that the hydrofoil is fitted correctly without leaning to any side and is perpendicular to the cavitation plate.

Propeller Torque

If you experience a port list whenever you’re at full throttle and it disappears when you reduce the speed then most likely it is due to propeller torque.

In simple words, if the propeller is right-handed, the tendency of the boat to lean towards the left side is due to prop torque. Similarly, if a propeller is left-handed, the boat would tilt to the starboard side because of the prop torque.

Torque is the measure of force that rotates the propeller.

When there is a single propeller on the boat and it is rotating in a direction, an equal and opposite torque would be produced thus leaning the boat to the opposite side as per Newton’s third law.

If the propeller is moving clockwise, the water opposes the clockwise rotation of the propeller, consequently, the boat tilts in the opposite direction.

Generally, the larger boats have two propellers to overcome this issue, a right-handed and a left-handed propeller.


You can not fully remove prop torque, however, you can reduce it to some extent. It remains a problem in smaller vessels with a single prop.

To combat this issue, if the boat has a right-handed propeller then the driver’s seat should be on the starboard side. The weight of the steering wheel plus the driver will help in dealing with this situation.

Generally, the side in which the propeller is rotating, slightly elevates, thus leaning the opposite side so placing some weight on that side can help us to cure prop torque.

The location of the motor also matters a lot. You can lower the prop torque by placing the engine at a height and in the exact center of the transom.

Try replacing your prop, usually, a higher-pitched prop will reduce prop torque.


Boat listing to one side is an important issue that should not be overlooked. We have discussed some factors which can lead to this problem. First of all, figure out what is the main cause behind the tilt of your vessel then resolve it accordingly.

However a little heeling will always be there, due to strong winds and other weather conditions. You can deal with this situation by using trim tabs or removing some heavy items from that side.

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