As a new boat owner, you want to make sure your boat handles the best it can. This means having an even weight distribution so the boat stays level at speed and while turning. All good boats are designed to do this from the manufacturer, however, issues can arise if you add aftermarket parts to them. In order to get your boat back to an even distribution, you may need to add weight to the bow or stern of the boat. So do you know how to add weight to the bow of a boat?
You will soon! In this article, we’ll cover all the most common and easiest ways to add weight to the bow of the boat. Boats almost end up having more weight at the back of the boat, so it is common to need to add weight to the bow of the boat. Offshore brackets, trolling motors, and more all weigh down the back of the boat. But don’t worry, we’ve got a complete list of all the safe ways to add weight to the bow of your boat.
Let’s dive in.
Why Should You Add Weight to the Bow of a Boat?
Before we get into the best ways to add weight to the bow of a boat, let’s quickly discuss why you might want to add weight to the bow of your boat. As we mentioned above, boats usually perform best when they have an even weight distribution from the front of the boat to the back.
When you add a trolling motor, larger main motor (like if you do an inboard to outboard conversion), extra seats for passengers, or any other aftermarket parts to the back of your boat, it makes the back much heavier than the front. Adding an offshore bracket can also mess up the weight distribution of your boat.
This happens because you are effectively making the lever arm with your engine and other heavy things on it longer, which forces the front of the boat up higher than normal. Having too much weight in the back can be an issue for several reasons.
What Happens When Your Boat is Stern Heavy
- Porpoising. Porpoising is when the front of your boat points up too high at speed due to the weight imbalance. It can become especially dangerous when you hit oncoming wakes or waves. It also degrades the handling of your boat and doesn’t allow you to turn nearly as fast.
- Poor handling. When the front of your boat is out of the water, your steering capability and turning radius go down significantly. Boats that are known for having a great turning radius (like Boice jet boats) can be ruined by having too much weight in the back of the boat.
- Poor speed performance. Having an uneven weight distribution also makes getting up on a plane much more difficult. Planing is required for a boat to perform at its top speed and is critical for any type of water sport (like tubing, water skiing, and wakeboarding).
- Poor fuel economy. Along the same lines, not being able to plane quickly is awful for your fuel economy. So having an uneven weight distribution in your boat makes it use more fuel to get up to speed and in general.
- Higher chance of water splash. When the back of your boat is weighed down, it leans closer to the water in the stern. If you don’t have an offshore bracket and your motors are mounted to the transom of the boat, it might allow waves and wakes to spill over the edge into where you are sitting. This is obviously annoying, but it could also be a safety hazard depending on how rough the water is.
How to Add Weight to the Bow of a Boat
Now that you know what can happen if your boat is stern-heavy, let’s go over how to add weight to the bow of your boat. There are many solutions to uneven weight distribution, so we’ll put them in a list then go into detail on the easiest solutions.
- Add sandbags to any empty space in your bow. The easiest way to add weight to the bow of your boat is to simply buy some sandbags and load them into the bow. If you have a covered area, stick them in there. Depending on how uneven your boat is, add enough bags until it handles closer to how it did stock. You can pick them up from your local hardware or construction shop.
- Add a water bladder/bag to the boat. Along similar lines to the sandbags, adding a large water bladder to the bow of your boat can add enough weight to level it out. We like using water bags because they are easy to fill and can also be easily emptied or removed if you change the weight on your boat. They also allow you to fine-tune the distribution of your boat more easily than sand and don’t make a mess if they leak.
- Add several cinderblocks to the bow. Another commonplace way to add weight to the bow of a boat is to simply add a few cinderblocks to the front. Cinder blocks are cheap and a great option for boats that aren’t that uneven in weight. You can also pick them up from your local hardware or construction shop.
- Add any old lifting weights you might have. Another obvious option to add weight to the bow of a boat is to add literal lifting weights to your bow. Given that COVID forced many people to buy at-home lifting equipment, you may have some unused weights lying around your garage. Just make sure they are stainless steel or rubber/zinc coated. This will prevent them from rusting in your boat and making a mess. You can also put them in a large plastic bag if you don’t want them rusting.
Why Does the Front of My Boat Go Up?
As we mentioned above, this is due to uneven weight distribution on your boat. The technical term for the front of your boat going up is porpoising. Porpoising happens because the stern of your boat is driven down by your motor which forces the bow up. This is exacerbated when a majority of the weight of the boat is in the back.
Porpoising can also occur if you have too large of a motor on your boat. Boats come with a motor size rating – if you don’t follow it or add a motor at the upper end of the rating, you will most likely experience porpoising. It’s not a huge issue, it can just degrade the handling of your boat.
How to Fix Porpoising without Weights
While adding weights to the bow of your boat may be the most intuitive way to prevent porpoising and level out your boat, another option is to add trim tabs. Trim tabs are small planes that you can mount on the edge of the back of your boat to effectively make your boat slightly longer.
The tabs help add pressure to counteract porpoising and push the stern of your boat up. If you don’t want to weigh down your boat further, we recommend spending the extra money to have trim tabs installed by a professional.
You could also consider putting an aftermarket leaning post on the bow of your boat so your passengers could even the weight distribution out.
Do Heavier Boats Ride Better?
The answer is, it depends! Heavier boats will handle waves and chop better since they have more momentum when moving. More momentum allows them to blast through waves without as much shock as a lighter boat.
On the flip side, however, heavier boats take longer to get up on a plane than lighter boats do. This means they tend to be slower, and they usually have a larger turning radius than lighter boats. So if you plan on using your boat for water sports we recommend sticking with a lighter boat. You also need to be aware of your keel potentially hitting submerged objects (get a keel guard).
Lighter boats also don’t sink as far in the water, which makes them much better for shallow water situations. If you plan on fishing for salmon in a river or using your boat in a shallow lake, we recommend sticking with lighter boats.
Whenever you add aftermarket parts to a boat, you need to make sure it still handles and performs the way the manufacturer intended. If your boat is stern heavy, this means either adding weights to the bow of your boat or adding trim tabs.
We hope this article helped you learn how to add weight to the bow of a boat as well as what your options are for uneven weight distribution. If you have further questions or comments feel free to shoot us a note in the comments below.