Get started with RC boats (Electric).

RC Boating

RC Boating

Getting started in the remote controlled boating hobby doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive, there are an array of entry level packages that come with absolutely everything you will need.

These are often a good way to gauge your interest in the hobby and see if you will enjoy it as much as we do. In my opinion your not wasting your money here, if you enjoy the hobby in the long run you will most likely get a kick out of running your very first boat well into the future.

To read our complete getting started guide click ‘Continue Reading’ below.

If your looking for one of these entry level, ready to run packages I suggest visiting your local hobby shop or logging onto sites like HobbyKing or RCBoatBitz.

Today however we are going to explore a getting started option that is still sub $500 but will give you a platform that you can upgrade as your excitement grows!

So to get started, what will I need in order to turn up at the lake?

  1. Battery packs, most commonly Lipo which stands for Lithium Polymer.
  2. Battery charger, one that suits Lipo batteries.
  3. Battery charging bag, a flame resistant bag to store your Lipo batteries.
  4. Radio transmitters, the controller.
  5. Radio receiver, the unit that sits inside the boat to receive the transmitters instructions.
  6. A boat!  In this example, we will use an ARTR package (almost ready to run).

Lithium Polymer Battery Disclaimer:

Before we get started, lets talk about ‘Lipo’ batteries.  Lipo batteries are a relatively new addition to the RC hobby industry. The technology has been around for decades but the economic viability of using Lipo’s for RC has only really come to fruition over the past 5-10 years.

Whilst originally launched with fears of battery explosions and the need to closely monitor the voltages of your batteries.  The technology in the market place has adopted promptly and using Lipo batteries is as easy as 1,2,3.  That being said,  you should take a small few steps to protect yourself.  IE: Items 2 and 3 listed above!

1. Picking your first hull:

Now with that out of the way, lets deep dive into picking a boat!  As you have probably found, there are different types of RC boats. Most commonly down at your local lake you will  find people running catamarans, v hulls and tunnel boats.  For your very first boat which is capable of a decent amount of speed and still remain forgiving to the conditions either of the first two are a great option.  I started the hobby with catamarans, based on the suggestion to me that they were a little more stable and easier to operate than a v hull.  (I’m not suggesting this is the truth, but that’s the path I went down).


From left to right you will see a catamaran, v hull and tunnel boat.

  • Catamarans have two transoms down the side which come into contact with the water. These provides great balance and the straight line speed is easy to handle, turning on the hand can be a little less forgiving than a V hull.
  • V hulls have one singe ‘V’ which sites in the water. This makes the hull very easy to turn and typically straight line speed is easy to control as well.
  • Tunnels like catamarans have two transoms down the side which sit on the water surface. They are typically are lighter and have a higher center of gravity which means they can be effected by choppy water or high winds.

Personally I own all three and enjoy using all of them for their different characteristics.

2. Selecting the right radio gear:

Your radio gear is an important aspect to your setup, if you buy a RTR (ready to run) package your box will have a radio in it already.  If you go down the ARTR (almost ready to run) path, you will need to buy your own radio transmitter and receiver.

The most common type of radio transmitter used by RC boating enthusiasts are the ones with the wheel on it (like our logo at the top of the page). However there is nothing stopping you from using the stick based radios commonly used by RC plane and helicopter pilots.

We recently did a review on the Spektrum DX3C, a very good entry level radio that is economically viable for a beginner. Something you can keep in your kit for a long time to come. Online stores like HobbyKing also have cheaper alternatives that function quite well.


  • How many channels do I need on my radio?

As a base minimum you will need a two channel radio transmitter, which will allow you to steer the boat (channel 1) and control the throttle (channel 2).  It’s not a bad idea to get a three channel radio as you might want to add some more functionality to the setup, such as lights or telemetry.

 …to be continued