Personal Watercraft (PWC)
A PWC is a small vessel that uses an inboard jet drive as its primary source of propulsion, and is designed to be operated by a person or persons sitting, standing, or kneeling on the vessel rather than inside the vessel.
- Stern: Back of a vessel
- Bow: Front of a vessel
- Draft: Depth of water needed to float a vessel
- Intake: Opening in the hull that draws water toward the impeller
- Intake grate: Screening cover over the intake, which prevents large debris from entering
- Drive shaft: The long stem connection between the handlebars and the impeller
- Impeller: Device used to force water in a desired direction under pressure
- Steering nozzle: Device used for directing the stream of water to the left or right at the stern of the PWC, which steers the PWC
- Safety Landyard: Must be worn on your wrist. It stops the engine in case of a fall off
Operating a Personal Watercraft
Although a personal watercraft (PWC) is considered an inboard powerboat and operators must follow the same rules and requirements that apply to any other power-driven vessel, there are specific considerations for the PWC operator.
Steering and Stopping a PWC
PWCs have a steering nozzle at the back of the unit. The nozzle is controlled by a handle bar that directs the stream of water from right to left. When the steering control is turned right, the steering nozzle is turned right. The force of the water stream leaving the nozzle then pushes the back of the vessel to the left, which causes the PWC to turn right.
The most important thing to remember about steering most PWCs, and other jet-drive vessels, is that you must always have power in order to maintain control. If you allow the engine to return to idle or shut-off during operation, you lose all steering control. The PWC will continue in the direction it was headed before the throttle was released or the engine was shut off, no matter which way the steering control is turned. Always allow plenty of room for stopping. Just because you release the throttle or shut off the engine does not mean you will stop immediately.
Don’t Fight to Stay Aboard
If you begin to fall off or feel the craft start to roll, get clear of the craft as soon as possible. If you are going off the side, lose grip, then try to grab the steering again, you may end up grabbing a fist full of throttle and/or make the craft turn sharply. That certainly wouldn’t help your situation any and could send the ski or jet thrust into any passengers that already fell off. If it begins to roll, get off the ski as quickly as possible. You will do nothing but aid the flipping process by staying on it during a roll.
Wear Your Lanyard
It is extremely important to wear a lanyard any time you ride a PWC. If it flips and the engine remains running, you chance sucking water into your intake. If you flip and the lanyard remains connected, pull it as soon as you can.
Don’t Flip it
It may seem obvious, but the easiest way to right a ski is to keep it right to begin with. Our watercraft are fairly large and extremely stable, which makes them difficult to capsize, but it is still possible.
When riding aggressively on the Freestyle area, be sure to know your limits. Don’t ride harder than your ability will allow.
When Riding With a Passenger
Make sure both passengers lean into the turn not outside the turn. Avoid aggressive manoeuvres when riding with a passenger. It is tempting to show off for your fellow passenger, but we’re sure they wouldn’t be too impressed if you threw them off. Don’t make any unexpected sharp turns and apply throttle progressively to avoid throwing your passenger off. Keep in mind, they don’t have handlebars to hold on to, just you. If they do begin to fall off, they will probably grab you and pull you off as well.
Right the PWC
If you flip, swim to the rear of the ski and look for the manufacturer’s instructions on how to right the ski. The instructions are likely upside down so you can read them once the craft is upside down. The instructions explain which direction to turn the ski.
Flipping the ski back over the wrong way could result in getting water in the engine. You would always want to keep the exhaust pipe down so water does not drain into your engine.
When operating your personal watercraft, always consider the effect you may have on the environment:
- Do not operate a PWC in shallow water. Bottom sediments or aquatic vegetation can be sucked into the water pump and damage your PWC and the environment.
- Operate at slow speed and avoid creating a wake, which can cause erosion when operating near shore or in narrow streams or rivers.
- Do not dock or beach your PWC in reeds and grasses. This could damage fragile environments.
- Never use your PWC to disturb, chase or harass wildlife.