Tips for safe fun on your ski

There are a few basic guidelines for safety of you, your friends and your ski.

The Basics:  use a correctly sized life jacket, have onboard a cellphone in a protected sealed plastic bag or Dry Pak ($29.95), learn your water code - the rules for operating a vessel on the water - which include speed limit areas and right of ways.  If you are going alone - tell someone where you're going and when you'll return.

Used Ski Purchases:  if you have just purchased a second hand jet ski - do not take it further from shore than you can swim - get to know the reliability of your craft before you trust it out at sea.  This applies also if you have just had repairs done - water test thoroughly before going far from shore.   And there are certain ski's that shouldn't be taken far from shore - that is, they have past their use-by date for any kind of reliablity.

Lending your ski to friends;  make sure they know:  the boating rules, to watch out for floating logs/debre and shallow water, to push the ski out into at least 1 meter of water before taking off and to moor or beach the ski on return gently (turning the engine OFF before you get close to shore to avoid sucking up sand/shells).  Most hull and prop damages are caused "by a friend".

Playing with other jet ski riders;  accidents happen every year when two or more people are playing together on separate ski's, trying to splash each other or just getting too close.  A simple bump from another ski can cause hundreds of dollars worth of bumper replacement and hull repairs.  Deaths can, and have, accurred when two riders hit each other.

Tow Toys:  Make sure you check out the area you intend to ride with a tow toy.  Bad accidents have happened to people on tow toys hitting objects in the water - remember - you can turn the ski - they can't turn a donut.  It is required by law to have a three seater ski for towing; a seat for the driver, the spotter (person who watches the person being towed, and a seat for the person on the donut incase they need to board the ski.  Make sure your skiier/wakeboarder or donut rider is in a brightly coloured life jacket and raises their hand clearly when in the water to alert other water uses.

Tipping your ski over;  at some stage during use of your jet ski, you will probably turn it over.  The best way to avoid this is to 'just let go' of the ski if it is heading that way and chances are you will end up in the water and it will stay upright.  In the event that it does turn over, it is usually easy to correct and carry on riding.  If you have your original manual with the ski - it will have tips for various models on the best 'correcting' procedure.  If you do tip your ski over and the engine bay fills with water it is crucial to get the engine going again as soon as possible - if this happens, call your watercraft technician immediately for advise.  The worst thing you can do is put it on the trailer and leave it until Monday morning (or as we have seen - next summer...).

Ski's in the surf;  it's a lot of fun to ride your ski in the surf and jump waves - but owner beware - it can be the hardest form of use for your ski, causing small damages such as gel coat cracks to the more expensive engine mount failures, drive line damage, excessive water damage, etc.  If surf jumping is really your buzz - consider getting a pole ski, which will handle the rough & tumble a bit better.

Join the COASTGUARD;  $96.00 per year, usually with additional freebies, such as water safety courses, Trade-A-Boat subscription specials, and lots more.  Well worth supporting and getting all the knowledge you can about your local waterways.  Each year the Coastguard rescues plenty of jetski's, and usually for reasons beyond the owners control (mechanical failure).