Jet drives use an engine to power a strong water pump, which sucks up water and forces the water out the back to thrust the vessel forward.
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. The U.S. Coast Guard includes personal watercraft in the group of inboard vessels less than 16 feet in length.
PWCs are subject to all of the same laws and requirements of any other vessel plus a few laws specific to PWCs.
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.
As discussed, most 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.
Operating a personal watercraft carries the same responsibilities as operating any other vessel. Before taking your PWC out on the water you should:
Do not forget that in addition to obeying all boating laws, the PWC operator must adhere to laws specific to personal watercraft.Do not operate a PWC in shallow water. Doing so damages both your PWC and the environment.
When operating your personal watercraft, always consider the effect you may have on the environment:
Never use your PWC to disturb, chase or harass wildlife.
PWCs are designed to allow you to fall off and reboard from the rear of the craft. Sometimes after a fall, the PWC could be completely overturned. When this occurs, you should be familiar with the proper procedure to right the PWC.
Reboarding a PWC
Look for the decal on the rear of the PWC to determine
Because a PWC is very maneuverable it is possible for a PWC to get into trouble fast. Here are some important things to do when operating a PWC: