Jet Ski Etiquette
A jet ski is a lot of fun to ride. If you have never been on a jet ski before, the open water may seem like an invitation to do whatever your spirit suggests, but all experienced riders know there are some basic rules of the water newbies need to learn. Here are the 10 basics of jet ski etiquette you need to remember before a ride.
1. Know the right of way rule
The first and most important of all jet ski etiquette is to know the right of way rule. Many people think the open waters are fair game, but the open waters are the same as the road in terms of right of way. Without the proper right of way, there would be chaos and accidents all over the place from everyone assuming it was safe to go at the same time.
So how does the right of way work on the water? It works the same as when you are on a roadway. If there are other boats or jets skis on the right of you, you are supposed to assume they have the right of way and are allowed to go first.
2. Understand that others may not follow the right of way
Of course, it is important to keep in mind, that not everyone on the water will know the first rule of etiquette regarding the right of way. If you are on the right and the other person, whether jet ski, paddle boarder, or boat, doesn’t understand the right of way rule, you could end up assuming you can go, and the other person hits you after falsely making the same assumption. It is always best to assume a lack of knowledge from the others around you regarding the right of way rather than colliding and having an accident.
When you are in the right of way, always proceed with caution at a slower speed to account for this lack of knowledge from others. In fact, many jet skiers will naturally yield even when they have the right of way when passing with a boat or larger vessel just to be on the safe side because size can be seen as trumping right of way by some drivers.
3. Follow the speed limit when posted
One of the basic elements of jet ski etiquette is to follow the speed limit. While some areas do not a have a posted speed limit, a lot of areas do have it posted, and it is imperative you follow these guidelines. Speed limits are not just put in place to ruin your fun. They are there to keep riders safe, so you go home in one piece after a day of riding. They are also usually in place to help reduce wakes and loud noises for neighboring homes along the shore.
4. Watch your wake
Speaking of wake, it is poor etiquette to try to knock your friend off their jet ski with the force of your wake. This is something that careless riders do all the time. You should also watch your wake when riding near any swimmers or paddle boarders. Basically, if you want to make big wakes, take it out to the deep end where you have more room out of common courtesy for others.
5. Wear a life jacket
This is both a safety matter and an etiquette rule because it is just that important. A life jacket might save your life if you end up in an accident. How is wearing one an etiquette matter? Everyone wants to have fun on the water and to have fun means to be safe. No one wants to interrupt their fun to save you from drowning when you should have worn a life jacket in the first place.
6. Keep the noise down near the shore
Whether there are houses along the shore or just families trying to enjoy a day at the beach, no one wants to listen to your loud jet ski while you see how big a wake you can create, how fast you can go, or any other type of showboating. Whether there are noise ordinances posted or not, you should be mindful of the noise you create as part of good riding manners.
7. Protect the water
The water is the place where all the fun happens, but too many riders ignore the importance of protecting the water. There are a few rules of etiquette related to the water you need to follow. You should never litter while riding. When you throw your trash in the water, you are not only rude to other riders, you are also rude to the planet. You also want to avoid spilling any fuel or oil in the water. If this does occur, you should take measures to remove such as use of an oil absorbent product. You should also make sure your jet ski is clean and free of any oil or fuel residue before putting it in the water in the first place to help reduce water contamination.
8. Respect the wildlife
Aside from protecting the water, you also need to respect the wildlife. You are coming into their home, making a lot of noise, and creating wakes and other disturbances which can be unsettling and potentially dangerous for animals. If there are signs that say restricted area due to wildlife, you need to respect that limitation and ride elsewhere. You should also avoid feeding the wildlife or touching them. For instance, manatees are an endangered species and it’s illegal to touch them.
9. Don’t hog the ramp
When you are unloading or loading back up, make sure you get in and get out. Other people will want to use the launch ramp and it can be a nuisance to wait too long for someone else to clear out of the area.
10. Teach young riders the rules
Finally, teach these rules to any young riders in your life. A lot of jet skis are intended for family fun, but without a proper foundation of the basic etiquette rules, younger riders are a risk for committing all of the riding etiquette faux pas.