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Boating Basics

Although personal watercraft (PWC) and “ski craft” are considered inboard vessels and come under the same rules and requirements of other vessels, there are specific considerations for these operators.

Steering and Stopping a PWC or “Ski Craft”

PWC steering

Most PWC and “ski craft” are propelled by drawing water into a pump and then forcing it out under pressure through a steering nozzle at the back of the unit. This “jet” of pressurized water is directed by the steering control—when the steering control is turned, the steering nozzle turns in the same direction. For example, if the steering control is turned right, the nozzle turns right and the jet of water pushes the back of the vessel to the left, which causes the PWC or “ski craft” to turn right.

Remember—no power may mean no steering control…

Most PWC and other jet-drive vessels must have power in order to maintain control. If you allow the engine on a PWC or other jet-propelled vessels to return to idle or shut off during operation, you lose all steering control. Many PWC will continue in the direction they were headed before the engine was shut off, no matter which way the steering control is turned. New PWC allow for off-throttle steering.

Most PWC do not have brakes. Always allow plenty of room for stopping. Just because you release the throttle or shut off the engine does not mean you will stop immediately. Even PWC that have a braking system do not stop immediately.