We Know: All About Buying A Water Jet Ski

Water Jet Ski Basics

"Jet Ski" is Kawasaki's brand name of personal water craft, but it's commonly used to refer to all personal water craft that are propelled by water jets. Instead of being driven by a propeller or screw, they're driven by a jet of water routed through the craft and out the back.

The rider sits or stands on a jet ski. Most jet skis are designed to carry two or three people, although some models do carry four people. Jet skis today are often purchased by families because they are an affordable and portable means for having fun on the water.

Jet skis are classified as boats in most states, and must be registered and insured. You should also be aware that if you buy a jet ski, you should also be ready to purchase the trailer for it, maintain it, and buy any special clothing or equipment your family needs to use it.

Laws Controlling Water Jet Skis

The age rules for operating a  jet ski vary widely from state to state, from no regulation at all to 16 years old. Before operating a jet ski in your state, check the regulations. You can call the state parks association, or check with PWIA online. Jet skis are designed to have relatively clean emissions. If you buy a jet ski, you should become familiar with the emission standards where you're planning to ride, and the emission standards that apply to your vehicle. Older jet skis are often not compliant with the newest regulations.

Water Jet Ski Safety

Water jet skis are about 99% accident free, that is, 99% of all jet skis are operated annually with no accidents reported. Despite this good safety record, you should use common sense on the water.

  1. All modern jet skis are equipped with a deadman's switch that turns off the craft if the rider falls off. This is activated by a lanyard that the driver should always wear around his or her neck.
  2. All riders should always wear a brightly-colored flotation device, no matter how well they swim.
  3. If there is any reason a rider might not be at his or her best, you should consider not going out on a water jet ski.
  4. You should not operate a water jet ski a half hour before dawn or a half hour before dusk. The glare of the sun on the water makes it hard for larger vessels to see you.
  5. Jumping the wake of a boat or playing chicken are not only dangerous behaviors, but in many states they're illegal.

Popular Water Jet Ski Brands

  • Bombardier Recreational Products (Sea-doo)
  • Kawasaki (Jet-Ski)
  • Polaris Industries (out of market now)
  • Arctic Cat (Tigershark) (out of market now)
  • Yamaha (Waverunner)
  • Honda (Aquatrax)

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