2015 New York Safe Boating - 64
Operating Requirements for PWC
the throttle at high speed you will continue in the direction in
which you are heading, crashing into anything in your path.
Things to Consider Before Trying PWC
PWC are not subject to the same equipment carry
requirements as other boats, but there is some required
equipment you must carry and it will be provided by the
manufacturer. This includes a backfire flame arrestor, natural
ventilation (the US COAST GUARD rules exempt PWC from
having an engine compartment blower), and a muffled
exhaust system. All new PWC should come from the
manufacturer in compliance with all equipment regulations.
The operator is responsible for maintaining the equipment in
a way that assures continued compliance.
PWC can operate in ways that traditional boats cannot. The
water jet drive, combined with a relatively large horsepower
to weight ratio, makes the PWC highly maneuverable,
responsive, fast, and a "thrill ride." That's why people think
of PWC as water-borne motorcycles or ATVs.
However, there is a price for all that excitement. Think
carefully about the following before operating a PWC:
Not readily visible. PWC are low to the water which makes
it difficult for the operator to see and be seen. This is a real
danger, especially if the operator falls off his or her PWC
in an area where other PWCs or boats are operating. It's
important for the operator to keep a sharp lookout at all
times and to watch out for debris-and people- floating in
The operator must provide one US COAST GUARD approved
personal flotation device (PFD) of the proper size that is to
be worn by each person on board or towed. It is in your
best interest to wear a PFD that is designed specifically for
PWC operation when you're riding. The PFD is constructed
of stronger fabric, stitching and may have more straps across
the chest. Remember that an inflatable PFD is not acceptable
when operating or riding on a PWC.
You'll get wet. Capsizing isn't uncommon, and falling off a
PWC is part of learning to ride. PWC give off a lot of spray,
which causes the footboards to become wet and slippery. If
you like to stay neat and dry, a PWC is probably not for you.
Lanyard & Kill Switch
Most new boats and PWC come from the manufacturer with
an engine cut-off switch that you can attach to your PFD
with a lanyard. This will turn the engine "Off" whenever
Shallow draft. PWC can operate in as little as 2 feet of
water, which makes them versatile. But when operating
in the shallows, the intake grate may become clogged
with vegetation. It's important to know how to clear the
blockage. Another potential problem is that there may be
obstructions or rocks just below the surface, so the operator
should know the area in which he or she is riding.
If you've decided you're up for the potential for fun a PWC
offers, then be prepared before you launch. You should
read the owner's manual and pay close attention to all
safety precautions. Learn the location and operation of all
controls and be familiar with any unique characteristics of
your machine. Check the passenger capacity and be sure
not to overload your machine! Remember that skiers are
considered passengers, so your capacity must be at least
three (the driver, the observer and the skier) if you tow
anyone behind your machine.
you move far enough away from the operator's position to
activate the switch. If you fall off the PWC, it will stop, rather
than proceeding on without a rider. This will allow you to
right the craft and re-mount. Before you leave the launch
area, pull on the lanyard to make sure the engine stops.
Then make sure you attach it to your PFD securely before you
leave the launch area.
Know how to fuel your craft properly and how the reserve
position on the fuel switch works. Know the location of the
oil reservoir and how to check the level. Read about the
correct procedures for righting your overturned PWC, and
how to re-board. Then practice a lot in shallow water, and
away from swimmers and other boat and PWC traffic. Find
an experienced operator to help you learn and even ride with
you the first few times, if you can.
If the machine is equipped with a lanyard engine cut-off
system, the lanyard must be attached to the operator and the
shut off button. Many manufacturers of outboard engines
and boats are adding cut-off systems as standard equipment.