Personal Watercraft (PWC) are remarkable, agile machines; and I enjoy riding as much as anyone. It’s a freedom that can’t be appreciated until you take your first ride. I like to spin out, hop some waves and take my friend’s kids for rides now and then. However, I also make sure that the enjoyment of my chosen recreation doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s. Let’s face it – no matter what sport or recreation out there, there’s always someone who’s determined to wreck it for everyone else, but we aren’t going to change anything by preaching wild-riding abstinence. No one becomes a respected rider without a lot of practice and many mistakes. There is a time, a place and a safe way of improving your skills, though. If you adhere to the following guidelines, you can have your fun without annoying other boaters and upsetting the neighborhood.
Imagine someone running a chainsaw on your front deck for minutes on end, and you’ll get a feel for what it’s like for waterfront homeowners when a PWC rider is constantly buzzing around in one small area. PWC’s are actually quieter than most power boats. But even the loudest power boats seldom annoy people because they’re never operated in small areas for extended periods of time. So keep on moving…you can still have your fun and keep the peace at the same time. When pulling away from a dock or launching in a congested area, cruise slowly, quietly and in a straight line away from shore. If you want to practice spins and tricks, taxi to an isolated area on a non-busy day where there won’t be any homeowners to bother or other boaters to look out for. Since many of today’s watercraft are so easy to ride, owners are often pressured into letting friends give them a try. If you must give in, start with the proper instruction onshore, followed by a tandem familiarization cruise. Make sure they understand the “rules of the road” before turning them loose on their own.