How to Ride in Style and Jet Ski Safely

How To Ride A Jet Ski

Riding a jet ski or a personal watercraft (PWC) is an excellent way to get close to the water. It gives you the versatility of a smaller craft whether you want to drive around fast or take in the sights. However, it isn’t just a matter of jumping on it and taking off for the horizon. There’s a valid reason that you have to get some instruction on how to ride a jet ski even if you’re just renting it for a few hours.

Safety First

Unlike operating a boat, using a jet ski has some inherent risks. You’re closer to the water without the benefit of an enclosed vessel to protect you. That’s why it’s imperative that you wear a personal floatation device (PFD). It’s a sobering fact that more than 84 percent of drowning victims were not wearing one.

You should wear a Type II, Near-Shore Buoyancy Vest or Type III Floatation Aid as per US Coast Guard recommendations for calm water. Don’t skip this vital safety measure. In many states, it is the law, especially for younger operators. Several also require that PWC users take a safety course before going out on the water.

It’s also essential to remember that you’re part of the boating traffic. More than 20 percent of boaters are on a jet ski. Keep in mind that you’re riding a smaller craft than many that are on the water. That makes you even more vulnerable to injury in collisions. While there were more injuries with boats, accidents on PWCs came in second with over 600 in 2017.

Riding a Jet Ski

The critical thing to remember is that you must have 360-degree awareness. Fortunately, the unobstructed view makes it possible. You must know the navigation rules to make sound judgments. They cover situations such as crossing in front of another vessel, overtaking one, and meeting a boat head-on. You’ll need to know some basic terminology to make boating safe.

Navigation and Terminology

The front of your craft is the bow. The back is the stern. Your left side is port, while the right one is starboard. That information provides a basis for learning how to navigate. You’ll have the right-of-way in many cases because of the size of the jet ski.  However, when meeting head-on, both should pass on the port side.

If you’re overtaking a boat, you are the give-way vessel and must yield to the craft you’re going to pass. Remember, it’s harder for it to see you on a jet ski. If you want to cross in front of another, you are obligated to maintain your course and not deviate from it to avoid a collision. No matter what kind of vessel you pilot that is your primary responsibility.

Prepping for Your First Ride

Both you and your passenger must wear a PFD. You should inspect the craft before you start for apparent problems like leaks or mechanical issues. Also, check the fuel level since the tank of a PWC is smaller than power boats. Remember that jet skis have limits on the number of people that can ride at one time. Often, it is a probable cause to get pulled over by the water patrol.

You will get wet when you ride a jet ski. There’s no avoiding it. That means you need to take extra precautions if you’re on the water when the ambient and water combined temperature is below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You might need a wet or dry suit, depending on the conditions.

The type indicates what you’ll feel. The former isn’t waterproof, while the latter is and makes a better choice if the temperatures are frigid. Don’t underestimate the effect since it can lead to hypothermia.

Out on the Water

If you’re riding a new craft or are renting one, take a few moments before going full throttle to get familiar with its controls and responsiveness. It’s not unlike what you’d do in a car with the brakes and steering. Once on the water, you may have little time to react to changing conditions. This vital steps will help you avoid problems and having to research new boat prices and used outboard motors.

Don’t be in a hurry to open it up until you feel comfortable. You may find it helpful to stick to calm waters and smaller bays.

Stand Ups and Sit Downs

There are two kinds of jet skis, stand-up models and sit-down ones. The name says it all about how you ride it. The former is more difficult to master. You have to learn how to balance, and it takes a lot of muscle action in the process. The latter is easier for beginners to the sport. A lower center-of-gravity puts you in the proverbial driver’s seat.

The other outstanding advantage of sit-down jet skis is that you can take passengers along with you on the side. However, it’s essential that they follow the same safety precautions.

What You Shouldn’t Do on a Jet Ski

Riding a jet ski isn’t unlike getting on a motorcycle. It may also encourage the same kind of reckless driving. However, you should always stay within the speed limit and avoid buzzing other boats or PWCs. And as tempting as it is, you shouldn’t ride wakes. Many jet skiers like to jump them for the rush of seemingly dangerous behavior.

However, if you come down awkwardly, you may end up with the jet ski on top of you. You can damage the craft and risk being left afloat. It could make you left researching a boat payment calculator. If you capsize it, always pull yourself back onto it from the stern and not either of the sides. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s something you might consider practicing since, inevitably, it will happen.