Riding a PWC/jetski is great fun, and the sea offers a huge and ever-changing environment in which you can enjoy your sport…But if you are poorly prepared, the sea can quickly become a VERY dangerous place to be.
Take a look through this safety checklist. These simple steps will help make sure you are properly prepared to go out on the water.
And as everyone likes a bit of “You Tube”….Here’s EXACTLY why you need to be properly prepared, AND buddy up before going out on the sea
Always wear a PFD (Personal Flotation Device/ Buoyancy Aid). “Impact Jacket” types are most commonly used, but if regular offshore trips are your intention, then perhaps a PFD with kit pockets (aimed at “White Water” kayaking or touring) would be more suitable.
Ensure you are dressed for the conditions (and be aware that conditions can change quite rapidly out at sea). Wear a good quality wetsuit. A 2.5mm “Jacket & John” style suit should be adequate in summer, but you may want to step up to a 5mm “Steamer” suit for winter riding. Alternatively, you may prefer a drysuit. Get a “Surface Sports” specific suit not a diving type. It is better to be too warm & remove layers, than be too cold to ride safely (especially if you end up in the water).
You lose heat very quickly through your head, so you may want to consider a neoprene beanie hat. Don’t forget your hands & feet either. A pair of gloves will ensure you can keep a grip on your steering & operate your controls safely. For your feet, trainers or wet boots are a wise move (buy something with a decent sole, as you may want to walk to a nearby chip shop stop).
Don’t forget your eyes either. Saltwater can sting (especially if you are riding quickly) & make seeing where you are going tricky. There are plenty of goggle/ eyewear choices on the market….Top tip….Buy some that float….You won’t regret the decision!
Always use the Kill-Cord/ Lanyard and ensure it is attached to you, or your PFD.
It is advisable to carry a spare Kill Cord incase of damage or loss to your usual cord.
Inspect your Kill Cord/ Lanyard in between rides. Replace it if there are any signs or wear or damage.
Ideally never go out alone. Always buddy up with another PWC user. Always carry a means of communication to summon help, and know how to use it. We recommend a handheld VHF Radio
If your VHF Radio does not have DSC or GPS features, Personal Location Beacons have become much more affordable & are an accurate way of having your location pinpointed in an emergency.
A mobile phone is a useful back-up device, but remember you may not get a signal out at sea.
Tell someone where you are going, your intended return time-and let them know when you get back.
if you have a VHF radio, call coastguard on Ch16 before lauching to tell them about your intended trip, estimated arrival times & how many are in your group.
Carry Coastal Distress Flares and know how & when to use them.
Carry a plastic (pea-less) Rescue Type whistle attached to your PFD.
Carry a tow rope (around 10m length) incase you, or another PWC need rescue.
Basic tools, a set of spark plugs, and a foldable knife (incase you need to cut free from any debris) should be carried.
Carry a collapsible paddle, and an anchor (there are various types of anchor suitable for PWC’s).
Make sure your check and understand the state of tide, wind and weather forecast.
Carry out pre-launch checks ( hull integrity,engine plumbing security, Kill Cord integrity and function,oil level, steering movement, throttle action, gauges, seat & storage hatch security, bungs etc).
Your PWC can use a LOT of fuel. Make sure you have enough! (1/3rd tank out, 1/3rd tank back in and 1/3rd in reserve).
The RYA offer a one-day Personal Watercraft Proficiency Course. This course teaches you the fundamentals of safe watercraft handling, how to prepare yourself and your craft for a safe and fun day on the water & how to properly care for your craft. It also teaches you how to assess water & weather conditions, basic navigation rules & how to respect the marine environment. The course is not just for beginners though. We have met many “experienced” riders who have learned something valuable from the course.
Many inland lakes now require you to have the qualification before being able to launch & we are seeing increasing numbers of local coastal Councils making the course a requirement for launching at their managed sites. The course isn’t expensive, is a once only requirement & some insurance companies offer premium discount for qualified riders.
Anglesey Council also offer a fantastic incentive to RYA certificated craft owners, by heavily discounting the cost of their Seasonal Launching Permit. We are hoping Gwynedd Council will follow this example in 2023.
Get VHF certified (It is an offence to transmit via a VHF unit if you are not licensed).
Another important item to check is the condition of your trailer and wheel bearings – The last thing you want to happen is to find you pride and joy beached, dropped on the slipway, or even parting company with your tow-car at 60mph!
It is good practice to check the condition of the wheel bearings before any journey. The easiest way is to jack your trailer up when connected to your tow bar, and test the wheels for any play. If there is considerable play in the wheel the bearing may need tightening, or replacing and should be done before you start your journey. It is best practise to allow bearings to cool before putting your trailer in saltwater,otherwise their life will be dramatically shortened.
The RNLI have produced “Safety at Sea”, an interactive checklist for PWC users. Click the link below to view or download the document. RNLI “Safety at Sea”
Click the link to find your nearest RYA training centre.RYA Training. Your local training centre may also run a 1 day VHF radio course.
One of our highly qualified and widely experienced group riders Greg Butler, has begun a series of PWC riding educational video’s. Here is his video related to basic safety gear that you need.