Getting Your Boat Ready for Spring: Installing Trim Tabs

Getting Your Boat Ready for Spring: Installing Trim Tabs

Short of repowering your boat, there’s probably no single improvement that will make a bigger difference in your boat’s performance than installing trim tabs on a powerboat that doesn’t already have them. Trim tab kits are readily available from West Marine or any of the major online marine retailers. You’ll need around $500 and a basic aptitude with a screwdriver and electric drill – and the difference in your boat’s performance will be remarkable.

A trim tab presses down on the water coming off the transom, lifting that side of the boat — effectively changing the running surface to suit changing conditions. Independently controlled trim tabs compensate for differing loads and hold the boat’s attitude in crosswinds or crossing seas, easing the captain’s job of giving his crew a smoother ride. Trim tabs come in a number of different sizes depending on the boat size, type, and speed capability. Smaller, slower boats tend to have wider and shorter tabs. The tab manufacturer will be able to steer you to the best sized tab for your boat.

Tab installation involves mounting plates and actuators (pistons) on the stern, running a cable from the stern to the helm, and mounting a toggle switch or joystick on or into the helm console. The folks at Jamestown Distributors have put together a great HOW-TO VIDEO. We’d suggest that you watch it to get a sense of how easily you can make this major upgrade to your boat.