A Couple Key Tips For New PWC Owners & First-Time Boaters


The personal watercraft industry is booming at an alarming rate! With more first time buyers and uninformed operators behind the handle bars, it is important to safe this summer out on the water. Marion Knaus with Northern Ontario Travel touched on some simple yet important key factors that are often forgotten by new riders when operating a PWC: not using the safety lanyard properly, not riding in shallow water, unprepared docking, forgetting to refuel, forgetting the drain plug. To some this may come as common knowledge, but to a first time rider, this could certainly ruin what was supposed to be an adventurous day on your new ride. So let’s recap these key factors to avoid any mishaps. 

All PWC are required to have a safety lanyard and it must be used properly at all times. If your watercraft is equipped with a safety lanyard that is worn on your wrist, be sure to tighten it rather than just leaving it loose. In the event that you may fall off, your ski’s engine will stay running instead of coming to a stop. Sea-Doo solves this problem entirely; their lanyard clips to your life vest to avoid the possibility of the lanyard slipping off.


To some it may come as a surprise, but your low draft PWC is not a shallow water capable machine! Riding through shallow water, beaching your ski, or even encountering weeds could end your day on the water if not handled properly. If you’re lucky, you will simply have a jet pump that needs to be unclogged and is a rather quick fix. However, damage to the jet pump or the hull of your ski is very likely when riding in these conditions. It is best to ride in a minimum of two feet of water and anchor when necessary.

Just like parallel parking a car, docking your ski is a skill that takes time and practice to learn. It is important to get a feel of your watercraft’s reverse system and how it responds before approaching a dock for your first time. When the time comes to dock your ski, have your dock lines ready and keep all hands and feet inside the vessel just in case of collision. Most importantly, if you see a fellow rider struggling at the boat dock, lend a helping hand. Offering some pointers to someone who needs it may be the difference between them returning to the water and listing their ski for sale.


If you plan to be out on the water all day, be sure you have the fuel to do so. If you don’t have any fuel stops on the water, you may want to consider bringing extra fuel with you. The Watercraft Journals’s “Long Hauler Auxiliary Fuel System is an ingenious way of toting plenty of extra fuel on your ski. It is compatible with all 2004-and-newer Kawasaki and Yamaha 4-stroke models, 2003-through-2011 4-stroke Sea-Doos, and 2002 through 2009 4-stroke Honda Aquatrax models. It provides an extra USCG certified 12-gallons and automatically fills your fuel tank. The days of manually refilling with fuel jugs and risking spillage are over!

Lastly, forgetting the drain plug is a common mistake that many of us have made, including myself. It is one of those things that you typically only forget once and will become something that you triple check on every ride. If the plug happens to be left out, the ski will rapidly take on water until it is screwed back in. To avoid this problem, RIVA Racing offers self bailing drain plugs. These plugs will automatically drain water from your hull but never allow water in. These are available for purchase at greenulk.net at a 10 percent discount! Don’t sink your ski, check your drain plugs.

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Greg Gaddis

Greg Gaddis is a die-hard PWC enthusiast. Son of the founder of the worlds largest PWC forum and performance parts store, skis play a major part of his life seven days a week. While his first love are PWCs, his passion for mechanics does not stop there. He has a knack for anything with an engine and can’t help but tinker.

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