2015 New York Safe Boating - 66
jump wakes close to other boats! Give fellow boaters and
PWC operators a safety buffer in order to avoid potential
collisions. Avoid loitering in the area of boat ramps, marinas
and channels. Refrain from forcing larger craft to maneuver
unnecessarily or excessively.
Dad called to Mom and Corey on the second PWC to
come help him. As they sped to the rescue, their PWC also
capsized, tossing Mom and Corey into the cold, roiling water.
The family was very lucky. Some people on shore saw them,
recognized they needed immediate help, and launched
their motorboat to rescue the family. They also called 911
for an ambulance. Mom and Corey warmed up quickly
after returning to shore, but Dad had to be treated for
hypothermia at a local hospital.
YOU CAN OPERATE YOUR PWC RESPONSIBLY AND
STILL HAVE FUN!
RECKLESSLY OPERATING YOUR PWC IS NOT ONLY
DANGEROUS, IT IS ILLEGAL!
Dad recognizes what a close call they all had. He's grateful
to the watchful campers who rescued him, and he credits
the life jackets, too, for helping them stay afloat until
rescue arrived. Dad vowed that the whole family is going
to take a boating safety course and buy PFDs that fit
before going out on the water again.
Be Aware of Cold Water
Getting wet is part of the fun of riding a PWC, but remember
that cold water kills, and New York has plenty of cold (below
60°) water. If you're riding a PWC in the spring, early in the
summer or fall, consider purchasing a wet suit; you'll be
more comfortable, and you'll be much safer if you fall in.
Operating Rules for PWC Operators
Remember, it's not possible to steer a PWC when you release
the throttle, and that fact can create dangerous situations.
When facing a potential collision hazard, you may attempt to
slow and turn the craft by releasing the throttle and turning
the handlebars away from the hazard. But, because PWC
have no rudder, turning the craft requires engine power. If
you slow down too much, the craft continues on a straight
course directly towards the hazard, regardless of the way
you're trying to steer it.
Respect the Environment
Personal watercraft can go into shallow waters, but can
damage the environment when doing so. The wake of a
PWC can erode the shoreline, and operating PWC in shallows
and marshes can disturb wildlife. Avoid riding your PWC in
or near environmentally sensitive areas or disturbing wildlife.
If you must operate in areas like these, go slowly!
Slowing down and trying to turn is instinctual; you must
overcome the urge to do this and learn proper evasive
maneuvers. When approaching a hazard, continue engaging
the throttle and execute a turn away from the danger. You
must practice this in order for it to become a second nature.
Personal watercraft aren't particularly loud, but they're not
silent either. Constant PWC noise, especially from several
in the same area, can be annoying because of the quality
of the sound. The noise from your PWC may also annoy
shore-side residents, especially if you start riding too early in
the morning. Be considerate of the people on the shoreline.
Operating alone or in a group continuously in the same
area for long periods of time will cause more annoyance the
longer you are there. Be especially mindful when riding close
to shore, near anchored or moored boats, or around boaters
trying to fish. Also be careful around water skiers. You can
ruin a water skier's ride if the tow boat must power down or
turn suddenly because your PWC came too close.
PWC have no braking mechanism. Simply put, if you wish
to stop your PWC you must either execute a sharp turn or
allow the craft to glide to a stop. At 60 M.P.H. it will take
a PWC nearly 300 feet to glide to a stop, depending on
the operator's weight and other factors. Practice stopping
to get a clear idea of how long it takes you to stop on
your machine. Slow down well in advance when you are
nearing shore or a dock. Some newer PWC have added
safety features. These may include off throttle steering and
Remember, while you may be seeking a thrilling day, others
around you may just want to have a quiet day on or near
the water. With a whole lake or river available, the personal
watercraft operator does not need to restrict his or her
operation to one area, so move on.
Reserve Fuel Tank
Remember the rule of thumb for fuel allocation from the
previous lesson on trip planning? It applies to PWC too. Use
one-third of the tank going out, one-third for returning and
keep one-third in reserve. Many PWC are equipped with a
fuel reserve switch (newer models may have a fuel gauge).
This allows a margin of safety when you run low on fuel. If
you run out of fuel, switching to reserve provides fuel to get
Stay away from trouble-that means, keep well away from
other boats, other PWC, and swimmers. Remember that the
sun and glare off the water can cause your vision to narrow
and you may miss something in the water that is not directly
in front of you. Keep a constant lookout and be aware of
your surroundings. Never play "chicken" on a PWC. Never