How to Operate an OMC Outboard Shifter

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James Bond might step into an unfamiliar boat and know exactly what to do to put the motor in gear and save the beautiful woman, but if you're unfamiliar with a particular outboard, taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with an outboard's controls is prudent. The two OMC brands, Evinrude and Johnson, use three kinds of shifter. The first is a tiller-steering model, where you sit at the motor and move the tiller on the motor. The second has both a shift handle and a throttle handle. The third has one control handle for shifting gears and controlling the throttle.

Tiller Control

Grasp the tiller in your right hand and reach around the starboard side -- the right side, as you face forward in the boat -- of the motor. Grasp the handle you find extending from the lower part of the motor cover, the shifter, with your left hand.

Move the shifter handle toward the front of the boat to set the gears into the "Forward" position. If you twist the throttle handle slightly, you will begin moving forward.

Move the shift handle backward until you feel the handle move over the shift detent as it enters the "Neutral" gear position. The detent is the mechanical "bump" that lets you know that you have moved a control out of one area into another. If you twist the throttle handle slightly, the boat won't move but the motor speed will increase sharply.

Move the shift handle backward until you feel the handle move over another detent. The gears are now in the "Reverse" position. If you twist the throttle handle slightly, the boat will move backwards.

Move the shift handle to neutral to start the motor. OMC controls have a "Neutral lockout" that prevents the motor from starting while in gear.

Remote Control: Separate Shifter and Throttle Controls

Grasp the shift handle, which is usually shorter than the throttle handle, and push it forward. If you push the throttle handle forward, the boat will move forward.

Pull the throttle handle to the "Neutral" position, usually with the handle straight up, and pull the shift handle past the first detent. The gears are now in "Neutral." As with the tiller control, you must have the shifter in neutral before the motor will start.

Pull the shift handle backward so the gears are in the "Reverse" position. Push the throttle forward and the boat will move in reverse.

Remote Control: Throttle Control Only

Push the throttle handle forward. The boat will move forward; the farther forward you push the handle, the faster it will go forward, because the shift and throttle functions are controlled by the same handle.

Pull the handle backward past the first detent and you are in "Neutral." You can only start the motor in neutral, as is the case with all OMC motors.

Pull the throttle handle backward past the next detent and you move the gears into "Reverse" and apply throttle. Just as with "Forward," the farther back you pull the handle, the faster you will go backward.