Jet skiing is one of the most popular water recreation activities out there. You can’t go to the beach, lake, river, pond, or local mud puddle without finding someone out there making fast waves on a roaring jet ski. They’re fun, wicked-fast, but can be dangerous, especially if it’s your first time.
- Jet skis can go anywhere from 40mph to 70mph.
- Jet skis can weigh between 300 lbs and 950lbs.
- Wear a life jacket while jet skiing!
- The age to drive a jet ski differs from state to state
There are, generally speaking, three types of jet skis. There is your typical jet ski, the towing jet ski (pulling around water skiers), and the high-end jet ski. The latter is essentially a Kawasaki on water, designed for speed and maximum agility.
One thing is certain, all jet skis are a blast on the water. If you’re looking for a high-speed watercraft that you’re not going to fish off of, a jet ski is often the best choice. Though be warned, they’re notoriously high maintenance.
Jet Ski Guide
How fast can a jet ski go
Depending on whether you have a recreational jet ski, a towing jet ski, or a high-performance jet ski, you can reach speeds anywhere between 40mph and 70mph. That might not sound like much to someone who owns a Corvette or a Dodge Charger, but it feels insane on the water.
Jet skis are small, have streamlined designs, and have small motors that don’t need much horsepower to push these little plastic arrows across the surface of the water at high speeds. Jet skis are manufactured with a maximum speed—kind of like a governor. So unlike cars, you can’t push one beyond the speed it was designed to go.
It might surprise you that jet skis didn’t include brakes until very recently, around 2009-2010, and brakes weren’t mainstream for another five years or so.
How much do jet skis weigh
Part of what makes a jet ski’s acceleration so exhilarating is its low weight. The heaviest jet ski out there is the Kawasaki Ultra 310 Series at 950lbs. The lightest jet ski is probably the Yamaha SUPERJET at around 300lbs.
In between those two, you have all manner of sizes and weights. Although Yamaha has one of the lightest jet skis, they also manufacture an 800lb behemoth with some of the jet skis in the Yamaha VX Series.
However, keep in mind that these are empty weights, not including gas and oil that goes into them before they hit the water. Gas weighs around 5.5lbs per gallon, and oil weighs about 7lbs per gallon. They make a difference, especially if you purchase or rent a large jet ski.
What to wear on a jet ski
You should probably wear your swim trunks or bathing suit, of course. While jet skiing in your birthday suit may sound exhilarating in theory, law enforcement might have an issue with it. The most important things you need to wear are life vests and a whistle.
Whistles don’t get mentioned much in safety conversations, but jet skis are low-visibility watercraft, especially when larger boats are cruising the area. If you break down in the middle of the channel, you need a way to alert other craft.
If you haven’t winterized your ski, you can also jet ski in the winter or fall if you live in an area that doesn’t drop to -30°F. All you need is a good, thermal wetsuit. If your eyes are pretty sensitive to salt water or just sea spray slapping your eyes, invest in a good pair of goggles as well.
How old do you need to be to drive a Jet Ski
There’s a pretty good range for this and it’s entirely dependent on the state you live in. For instance, 14 is the minimum age requirement, so long as they have a valid boaters safety education and associated card. Or they have to be supervised by an adult who does.
In Alabama, the minimum limit is 12, as long as you have an adult who has a boating license on board with you. It’s a state-by-state deal; some states, like California and Connecticut, have a minimum age of 16.
Jet Ski Safety
As we mentioned above, you should have a snug but comfortable life vest and at least keep a whistle on the craft, even if you don’t want to wear it. At night time, most states require a 360° light, which most jet skis have. You just need to make sure it works.
- Pay attention to the weight and occupancy capacity
- Know your local boating laws
- Read the safety warnings in your owner’s manual
- Always take your Personal Locator Beacon
- Know your jet ski inside and out
If you’ve never rented or owned a jet ski before, it’s something that you simply have to try at least once in your lifetime. It’s a blast out on the water, especially during the summer months. Jet skis aren’t made for anything other than pure, unadulterated fun.
Remember, the most important thing is safety— yours and any potential passengers. Pay attention and be respectful to other crafts in the area. Where your lifevest and don’t allow anyone on your jet ski without theirs. Be safe and have fun!
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