how to drive a jet ski

How to Drive a Jet Ski

Written by Boatsetter Team
June 14, 2021

A jet ski is a machine that can feel almost like a motorbike on the water. Although it might look quite similar, a jet ski isn’t really like a normal boat, with an outboard motor and a propeller. Jet skis move by shooting a strong jet of water from out of the back of the machine. The power of the water squirting backward is what pushes the jetski forward.

At Boatsetter, we connect people with owners who are renting their boats and jet skis as well. A Boatsetter rental can be a great way to try out lots of different types of jet skis. If you are trying to learn more about which type of jet ski to choose when selecting your boat rental, we are here to help you get started. You can choose from a wide range of models built by world-famous manufacturers like Kawasaki, Sea Doo, Yamaha, and Suzuki. Be sure to select an easier drive model (and has a less powerful engine) if you are only just starting to learn.

You will generally find that steering a jet ski (personal watercraft) can be as easy as steering a motorbike: you turn the handlebars to go in one direction or the other. You should know that instead of turning the front wheel, like on a motorbike or bicycle, the handlebars pull on a cable that swings the water jet to one side or the other, and this makes the whole jet ski turn at an angle. Because the power of the water jet provides the steering, jet skis steer very well when traveling at high speeds.

As in so many other areas of life, safety on the water should always come first for everybody. If you are new to jet skiing or have already ridden a few times, these tips should help keep you safe while still having fun. Check out this comprehensive guide to riding on a lake. Also, be sure to review the guidelines and boating safety rules regarding boat charter rules set out by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Department of Homeland Security.

You should expect to get wet on a jet ski, even if you don’t fall in. This leads some people to wonder what they should wear while they are riding the jet ski. Generally, a bathing suit and a life jacket are good enough, but if the water or weather is a little cold, like in a place like Lake Michigan, you may prefer a wetsuit or drysuit. If you listen to your boat captain and be careful, your risk of injury is small.

Keep the Jet Ski Straight

keep the jet ski straight

First-time jet skiers often find it hard to keep the jet ski straight, but this is easy to correct. Some riders stare at the handlebars or the water just in front of the jet ski. Rather try to lift your head and stare off in the distance of your riding area and keep an eye out for other jet ski riders, boaters, and docks. This will help you drive straight and enjoy your outing more. If you keep struggling, choose a stationary target on land and steer directly toward it.

Use Your Throttle

Jet skis have a water jet that shoots out the back and makes the machine go forward. There is no rudder, so the jet moves side to side to steer. So, when you slow down or ease up on the throttle, it gets harder to steer especially when riding in rough water, and you can end up falling off. If you need to avoid a collision or boating accident, don’t take your finger off the throttle but keep your speed up and steer away from the danger.

Reboard Your Jet Ski

If you happen to fall off your jet ski, there is a method to getting back on. Always reboard from the back of the machine. Reach up to the handle behind the seat and pull yourself out of the water onto the back deck. If you try to board from the side, the jet ski might flip. Just relax in the water, think about how to get back on board, and then slowly climb back on.

Loosen Your Grip

Many first-time riders complain that their hands get tired or their shoulders get sore. This is often because they try to hold on too tightly. Try to lean forward slightly and relax your grip while keeping your elbows slightly bent. This will allow you to ride for longer without getting tired. Just don’t lean too far forward, so you don’t hit your chin or nose on the handlebar.

Be a Good Passenger

jet ski passenger

It is one thing to be a good driver, but there is a good way to be a responsible and comfortable passenger too when you are on a bigger jet ski. A good way to stay on is to hold firmly to the driver’s waist or the back of their life jacket. Just don’t hold on so tight that you make it difficult (or even impossible) for the operator are to steer the jet ski. Keep your body as loose as possible instead of being so stiff.

Enjoy the Jet Ski

When you arrange a Boatsetter rental with a jet ski, you may want to stand up on the machine. However, this will make controlling the jet ski much more difficult and increase your chances of falling. Driving from a standing position is only something to try after you become an intermediate or expert rider. So why not go ahead and explore our marketplace to discover all of the new jet ski rental options available near you? You’ll soon discover that Boatsetter offers boat rentals with jet skis all around the USA as well as internationally.


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