FINALLY !!!! Updated June 1, 2010 (Just in time for summer!)
PWC FAQ created and written by David Yavel
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About Personal Watercraft Riding and this FAQ
Personal watercraft riding is fun, relaxing, and a great way to get out on the water without spending a small fortune on a regular sized boat.
I have written this informative FAQ so you will understand all of the different requirements there will be to owning a PWC.
Although ownership may seem easy, it definately requires a time commitment for upkeep, as well as some other required resources.
I am hoping this FAQ will help save you time, and money.
This PWCFAQ is a result of years of PWC ownership and experience from many club members.
In addition we have made an honest attempt to keep all of the information up to date.
As of June 2010 the FAQ content has been completely overhauled, and re-written
Steps to Buying your first Personal Watercraft
Learn about Boating Law and state requirements.
You wouldn't purchase a car without having a license....Learn before you go.
Can my kids ride my personal watercraft?
Check your local state laws for age requirements and restrictions.
Keep in mind most personal watercraft are very highly powered jet driven boats, not toys.
If you would not put your 15 year old teenager on a 1400cc Superbike, you may want to reconsider handing them the keys without a basic safety course. Make sure you educate your children on marine law, and handling of any watercraft they ride.
Do I have the right vehicle
I recommend a Truck or SUV with 4WD, with a proper towing capacity for total weight of your trailer, personal watercraft and equipment.
The 4WD is recommended because many launch ramps are very slippery.
Those who launch from the beach should definitely consider 4WD.
Getting stuck and having your expensive vehicle go into the drink is NOT fun, or cheap.
Check your local auto insurer for possible discounts
This is not an endorsement but I have heard good stories about Progressive Insurance.
Expect $200 per year as an average.
Start asking your insurer questions about quotes before you start looking at your purchase.
Should I buy new or used Personal Watercraft?
Today’s four stroke watercraft are built to last and very reliable if maintained.
Used is a great place to start if you are still deciding if the hobby is for you.
Look for big discounts purchasing a 2-3 year old watercraft.
Try and buy from someone with an extended warranty which is transferrable.
New personal watercraft are great for those who love that new boat smell, and are willing to pay a little more for it.
Which PWC should I buy?
There are 4 Major manufacturers of PWC. Which have their various trade names.
Bombardier Recreational Products (Sea-doo)
In deciding which PWC is for you, you have to evaluate not only your budget, but most importantly what types of activities you plan on using your watercraft for. Ask yourself the following questions. Will I use the PWC in fresh water? or Possibly rough ocean water. Will you be waterskiing/wakeboarding/ or tubing? After reviewing the features of each watercraft, it is important if possible to test ride watercraft. As every hull type and manufacturers ski handles completely differently, and has it's own "feel" By nature shorter length watercraft are normally referred to as sporty, mostly used in close course racing events where turning important, the sacrifice made with shorter 2 seater type watercraft is ride quality, which can often be bone jarring in rough conditions. 3 seater watercraft with a longer length normally make for a much smoother ride and are typically classified as Crusiers. For very rough water, such as ocean riding, and long distance riding consider a watercraft with a 23 degree deadrise, and Deep V hull. Examples of very smooth performers are Hondas F-12 Aquatrax, Kawasaki’s Ultra Series, Yamaha’s FX series waverunners, and Seadoo’s GTX based hulls, including the RXT.
Use specific questions.
What is the top speed of a personal watercraft?
For 2010 new personal watercraft are between 50 for entry level and 70+ mph for top of the line models.
Generally more money buys you faster acceleration and higher speed, and features.
Which PWC’s are the fastest this year?
For 2010 the two fastest stock PWC’s you can buy are still the Kawasaki Ultra 250X, and the Sea-doo RXT both will go 70mph+ and get to 70mph very quickly. For those with larger budgets, and inclined to modify their Personal Watercraft, a few other models can be modified to go 80mph+, (examples: Yamaha GP1300R, Seadoo RXP, Seadoo RXT)
What is the cruising range of a PWC?
Although this is highly dependent on the particular model and cruising speed,
At a speed of around 40mph, we are seeing about 100 mile range on a variety of different models.
Generally models with Superchargers and Turbo chargers will use more gas than Normally Aspirated models.
What is the best PWC for tow in surfing?
The nature of tow-in surfing requires equipment which is very stable in rough conditions, is reliable, and has an absolutely linear powerband. The Yamaha FX series is currently the most used craft for Tow in Surfing, it also is the only 3 person watercraft with a trim system, which will go a long way towards tailoring the ride to tow-in conditions, Yamaha is also very well known for reliability on their marine engines.
What is the best PWC for Wakeboarding?
The only pwc currently marketed and equipt for wakeboard riding is the Sea-doo wake available in 155hp or 215hp versions. Equipment includes a line pylon, and two board holders. Other watercraft can have tow pylon’s mounted (aftermarket), but the board holders are a feature which is unique to this model.
Can I fish from my personal watercraft?
Yes, many of the full size craft are well suited to this.
How do I choose a trailer
You can save a lot of money by purchasing a lightly used trailer, as long as it is not heavily rusted.
You can also try going directly to trailer manufacturer, or to a powersports dealership.
You will need a galvanized or Rhino lined trailer for saltwater use.
I also encourage you to checkout the new trailers from Sea-doo, which come highly recommended.
Do I need a cover for my PWC?
If you keep you PWC outdoors you should have a quality cover. Good covers can be purchased in the aftermarket, or purchased online for around 25% less than dealer retail. $150 spent on a cover goes a long way in protecting a potential $10,000 purchase.
Sun damage on the plastics can be virtually eliminated with a good cover.
I recommend the factory cover, it will fit best, make sure to lock it to the ski as it is a theft target.
How can I get the best deal on my PWC purchase?
While there are countless write-up on the internet about negotiating the purchase of a new "vehicle"
I have sold personal watercraft at a dealership, and here is a brief summary of what I would suggest.
Decide what watercraft you want to purchase, and stick to that one.
Know before you go. check out a site such as http://www.pwccost.com/ to obtain pricing information.
Also consider in the winter/spring, dealers want to get rid of last years model, and there are many manufacturer incentives.
Try and find if there are dealers in your area that offer out the door pricing where they give you their absolute lowest price (also don't expect them to throw in lifejackets etc.)
What about the extended warranty?
I did, but then again I just want to ride my ski, and never have to deal with any repair issues. This depends. Is the warranty from the manufacturer or a 3rd party? Normally warranties which are sold will cover your ski picking up after the 1st year manufacturer warranty ends and going thru the 5th year of ownership. The average 4 year warranty after the original first year can be had for about $650. Is $112.25 a year worth it for peace of mind? I think so considering I fill my watercraft with $50 of gas everytime I ride, and my local shop charges $90+ per hour in labor for any repair……you decide for yourself. Check Ebay for factory extended warranties that your local dealer will try and sell you for $1000. You do not need to purchase the extended warranty until your 1st year warranty is close to expiration.
Equipment you will need.
PFD or Personal Floatation Device is mandatory, there are many other items that can make riding more enjoyable.
Footware-In warmer weather- sandals, or neoprene footware will help you avoid hitting your feet hard on the watercraft.
Gloves are recommended, as grips on most watercraft, combined with water and friction will make blisters very quickly.
Eyewear is definitely recommended because 20-30 mph splashes at you face can be painful to the eyes, they will also limit sun exposure. Yes, the most important thing about eyewear is that is protects, and floats or has retainer straps. I find sunglasses particularly frustrating in salt water because, the dried salt forms distracting blindspots which appear very large since they are close to your eye. I like the Oakley H2O goggles, they float, and are easy to wipe off while riding.
Wetsuit-Colder weather and offseason riding require a sealed wetsuit, thicker gloves and boots.
For great equipment which will stand up to much colder weather, you should look to surfiing and diving gear. O’neill wetsuits happen to a have a great range of wetsuit producs for all conditions. Another benefit to using surfing wetsuits, are there is a much greater range of special sizes. It’s not just Small Medium and Large, but sizes like Medium Tall, Large Short, Extra Large Short and many others. Not only are the suits more readily available to try on at local surf shops, but a better fit, means more warmth, and comfort while riding. I have ordered from Beckersurf.com, and have been very happy with their selection.
What sunblock can standup to 60+ mph riding with windblown water?
I have found that Coppertone Sport Continuous Spray SPF50 can stand up to the worst that the ocean can deliver and works best to avoid sunburn. I also like that it applies without you having to touch it. It also does not sting your eyes. http://www.coppertone.com/products_sport.aspx
Equipment you should consider having on your PWC
YOU OR SOMEONE YOU RIDE WITH WILL BREAKDOWN, IT IS JUST A MATTER OF WHEN- Make sure each PWC has at least 30 Feet of Tow Rope for Ocean use, also try and have quick clips on both ends. Make sure the Rope has a "working weight" of at least 500LBS. You know that uncomfortable feeling you get when you break down in your car on the highway? That feeling is 100 times worse in the ocean! Also make sure you understand how you can tow your PWC if you need to in the water. Check your manual. As an example Yamaha says you cannot tow over 5mph, without risk to the ski backflushing water into the motor.
Consider getting an unlimited tow card with Boat US, they normally go for about $150 for the year.
Should you have a breakdown towing is going to be at least that much.
GPS and Compass-When ocean riding, it is advisable that you have a GPS, and be familiar with it’s use.
I would highly recommend a compass as a backup navigation system when riding on the ocean.
Garmin makes the best GPS for marine use check out the 76 series.
VHF Radio-Cell phones do not work well offshore, nor do they stand up to water all that well.
A good VHF radio is essential for safety.
Uniden makes the world’s smallest for $160, it is waterproof, and has great range for a handheld.
ICOM makes a VHF radio that floats.
Is it bad to ride in salt water?
I ride salt water for the waves and texture, it can be very fun, challenging, you can see dolphins, other sea life etc.
Absolutely not! My watercraft has over 160 hours of pure saltwater riding. It's all how you take care of the craft. Modern personal watercraft and their engines are now made with alloys which are highly resistant to corrosion.
You will after riding have to make sure you do a thorough wash down and flush which your manual recommends. I know many salt water riders with over 200 hours on their personal watercraft with not a spot on rust on them. It’s all in the cleanup!
Does it hurt when you fall off a PWC?
Normally impacting the water under speeds of 40mph is really not that bad, however at high speeds, injuries are possible.
Being in good physical shape, and being well stretched out prior to riding can go along way. Also make sure you close your mouth if you fall.
As always wear a PFD (required by law)
How can I meet other personal watercraft riders near me?
Join the AWA American Watercraft Association (www.awahq.com)
Was your question not answered? or do you see an error or correction?
we would like to hear from you....
go to our forums at www.socalwatercraftclub.com