Good Question: Why Are Most Boat Steering Wheels On The Right Side?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO talked with four boat builders about this question and each had several different explanations. So, here is a summary of the top three theories.

  1. This trend dates back hundreds of years when boats where steered by oars. The oars were generally on the starboard side because most people are right-hand dominant.
  2. This theory doesn’t apply as much to modern boats, but it has to do with propeller torque. According to Rob Parmentier with Larson Boats, the propellers on single engines go counter clockwise, so when there is torque on the propeller, the boat can lean left. Boat designers wanted a way to keep more weight on the right side.
  3. Ron Cleveringa with Burger Boat Company says boats generally must yield the right of way to the starboard side so having a driver on the right side allows for more visibility of boat traffic.
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