Sea-Doo Ignites Spark

Spark Bubblegum_7801_MY14Sea-Doo ignites Spark, and it’s a game-changer. This new Sea-Doo watercraft is playful, nimble and colourful – and way lighter on the water and the wallet. With a price point far below most other watercraft (starting at $5,599 CDN), Spark is attracting big time attention and is already the hot seller of the 2014 model year.

Anyone riding Spark will immediately harken back to the glory years of the early ‘90’s when you could really throw a Sea-Doo watercraft around on the water. But to achieve this new playfulness, Sea-Doo went far, far ahead, not back.

My first question after the Spark launch was “With a price that low, what did they leave out?” But Spark isn’t some stripped down version of existing models, it’s a totally re-invented watercraft, a true paradigm shift. So in many ways, comparing Spark to other models is like comparing apples and oranges.

Spark Bubblegum_807_MY14Spark has a state of the art new Exoskel and an advanced, deep-V hull made from recyclable Polytec, for lightweight strength. It’s powered by the best new 4-stroke on the water, the Rotax 900 ACE engine, capable of decent power and up to an amazing 35% fuel savings.

Spark also comes with many Sea-Doo exclusives found on their premium models, like Intelligent Throttle Control (ITC), D-Sea-Bel sound suppression system, Closed Loop Cooling, Multifunction Digital Info Center, Off-Throttle Assisted Steering (O.T.A.S.) – and Intelligent Brake & Reverse (IBR) is an available option. Plus, Spark comes in five colour choices and a multitude of wrap designs that make customizing options almost endless. And all of this comes in a feather light package that weighs up to 50% less than existing models, easily towable behind even a compact car.

Spark Orange Crush_9310_MY14My second question was “What kind of ride can I expect?” Riding Spark is an out and out blast. It captures the essence of fun on the water, where body English, angle and attitude enable any rider to put Spark through whatever exciting paces you can handle. Miraculously, Sea-Doo has achieved this remarkable manoeuvrability without sacrificing stability or ride confidence for those who just want to toot around their lake.

Best of all, Sea-Doo designers and engineers have met the ambitious challenge of delivering consumers a ridiculously affordable 2-for-1 opportunity – to buy two Spark watercraft + a 2-bed Move trailer for the price of one premium model! Apparently, many of us are taking BRP up on their offer, so the waterways will be going Spark crazy this summer.


Winterizing Your Personal Watercraft

P1110702Thought about winterizing your personal watercraft? In our eagerness eager to ready our watercraft for the summer, we often forget that the best preparation happens months before during the winterizing process. A little TLC in the fall can add years of life to your PWC. Do it yourself winterizing is easy if you’re so inclined, but for many riders like me, my Sea-Doo dealer is the best bet. Whoever does it, here are some of the basics, remembering that details may vary with make and model, so check your operator’s guide before starting.

Clean It: Removing the summer’s dirt and grunge includes cleaning the jet pump inlet and outlet, the engine compartment (bilge cleaner or hot water with mild detergent) and the body and hull, especially If your PWC has been used in saltwater. This is also a good time to remove anything you may have carried on board and store it separately for the winter. And don’t forget to remove, clean and store the battery. Tip: preserve battery life by putting it on a trickle charger.

Dry It: Moisture or condensation left anywhere inside can cause problems, so be sure to thoroughly drain and dry the watercraft inside and out, including the engine compartment. The exhaust sytem and intercooler on external intercooler models must also be drained by running the engine with intake hose connected. Tip: A dealer or someone with good mechanical ability should do this. 

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Sea Doo Tours Bay of Quinte

Passing Glenora Ferry docks

Passing Glenora Ferry docks

On days when winds are calm, Sea Doo Tours Bay of Quinte from Trenton to Kingston, Ontario is a scenic adventure. It’s about a 226-kilometre round trip on the Bay of Quinte, Adolphus Reach and the North Channel, in waters largely protected from Lake Ontario by the islands that form Prince Edward County, commonly known as “The County”. There are many bays and back channels to explore, but be careful because some tend to be weedy.

Launch Site: After trailering from Gateway Powersports & Marine, our launch point is Centennial Park, Trenton, at the mouth of the Trent Severn Waterway. There’s plenty of free parking and multiple ramps with several docks. Once launched, a turn to starboard put us into the marked channel where we head east in to the Bay of Quinte. Almost immediately, we spot something in the distance about 15 klicks away, which gradually materializes as the first bridge over the waterway, crossing from Belleville to Prince Edward County.

Taking photos of the scenery

Taking photos of the scenery

Hard Right at Forester’s: About 6 kilometres later, the bay widens considerably, but we proceed due east straight across it for 10 kilometres. As it begins to narrow again, we soon spot the second major bridge, 8 klicks ahead. The marker buoy approach to this bridge is closer to the south shore and after passing under the bridge, we steer straight to round the starboard side of Foresters Island. (If time or inclination allows, we can run due east from Forester’s Island and pick up the marked channel into Napanee, birthplace of Avril Lavigne).) From Forester’s, it’s a sharp turn to starboard to cruise about 14 kilometres south past the mouth of Hay Bay on the port side.

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Nuts to Neoprene Wetsuits

Yuck - one try was enough!

Yuck – one try was enough!

I tried it once, but now I say nuts to neoprene wetsuits. Contrary to what a quick glance at most PWC catalogues would lead us to expect, my observation is that most riders don’t wear neoprene, myself included. Yet, those catalogue pages are festooned with smiling models decked out in neoprene, ready to ride. Are they nuts?

Few Look Good in Neoprene: First off, none of those models look like me. Or for that matter, like most of the demographic that can actually afford to buy a personal watercraft. I suppose neoprene might have some use if your sole purpose is to show off a trim, muscled bod. But most of us normal PWC owners have more that we’re trying to hide than put on display, so why on earth would we choose neoprene?

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Sea Doo Tours Kawartha Lakes


Floating on Big Bald Lake

To go on this Sea Doo Tours Kawartha Lakes from Sturgeon Lake to Stony Lake, the first thing you should know is that the main lakes are interconnected and part of the Trent Severn Waterway. Sturgeon, Pigeon, Buckhorn and Chemong Lakes are virtually rock-free in their main waterways, whereas it’s wise to keep your Sea-Doo watercraft on the marked routes on Lower Buckhorn, Lovesick and Stony.

This outstanding day trip provides easily navigable waters, adequate depths, regular marker buoys, active local populations who flag errant rocks, plus many available services and amenities, both at frequent marinas and also at the anchor towns of Buckhorn, Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls.

View Kawartha Lakes Sea-Doo Tour in a larger map

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Sea Doo Tours Rice Lake, Trent and Otonabee Rivers


Sunny day on the Otonabee!

Sea Doo Tours Rice LakeTrent and Otonabee Rivers is one of many exciting Ontario rides I’ve discovered. My wife and I acquired a Triton Elite WCII watercraft trailer, so we could easily access Ontario riding destinations other than our own cottage lake from my Sea-Doo dealer, Gateway Powersports & Marine. Most are also close to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). So why stay in one place all summer? Get out there and live a little!

Getting Started: To get you started, all you need is a couple of current (read: fuel efficient) Sea-Doo watercraft, a tow vehicle and trailer, a well-honed sense of adventure, and a destination. You don’t even need charts – just download an area tourism map so you can orient yourself to the general layout of each waterway. My Sea-Doo watercraft have an internal compass as part of their standard gauge package, but if your PWC does not, then I suggest carrying a waterproof one in your pocket. Alternatively, grab a GPS unit, load up the appropriate charts, and you’re good to go.

View Rice Lake, Trent & Otonabee Rivers in a larger map

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Sea Doo iControl Starting Tips

P1060306I’ve introduced enough riders to new high tech PWC’s to realize that many new owners will appreciate a few Sea Doo iControl Starting Tips. Getting started with iControl can be confusing if you’ve never used it before. I’ve heard dealers lament about customers that thought something was wrong because their new Sea-Doo didn’t seem to start properly. But as my dealer, Gateway Powersports & Marine said, 99.9% of the time, the Sea-Doo watercraft was fine. The real problem is that few of us read manuals anymore, myself included.

So when I first went to use a new Sea-Doo watercraft with exclusive iControl technologies, I was confused too. Suddenly and unlike my old Sea-Doo, I couldn’t get my new one started. Then I broke down and read the manual – and voilà! – I can now get started every time.

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Columbia Powerdrain Cool Shoe Review

P1100800Finally, happy feet with my Columbia Powerdrain Cool Shoes!

For years, I’ve been looking for the perfect water shoe to wear while riding my Sea-Doo watercraft. I’ve tried neoprene (too clammy, sweaty and hard to put on and take off). I’ve tried water slippers (too flimsy and stink after wearing all day). I’ve even tried Crocs™ (not enough protection and slippery when wet). Even riding in my bare feet doesn’t work – they burn to a crisp in all day sun and it’s ouch-ouch-ouch when walking on gravel. But guess what, I’m a happy rider because I’ve finally found the right pair!

After my various footwear fiascos, I admit to some scepticism when I came across the Powerdrain Cool™ Shoe from Columbia, but I quickly became a believer.

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Sea Doo Tours on Quebec’s Richelieu River

P1100124One great way to experience La Belle Province on the water is by Sea Doo tours on Quebec’s Richelieu River in the Montérégie Region, including side trips along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain. By personal watercraft, it’s a five-day, 800-kilometre journey that I’ll be writing about for Canadian Yachting Magazine next fall. But if you want to do it for yourself this summer, here’s our itinerary and where to stay…

Auberge du Lac Champlain

Auberge du Lac Champlain

Day One – Trailer to Auberge du Lac Champlain, Venise-en-Quebec.

Located across the road from a boat launch, the classy new Auberge du Lac Champlain consists of tastefully appointed rooms and villa style cottages. Offering an outdoor pool, spa, adjacent restaurant and plenty of parking, it’s ideal for staging a PWC trip. Located on the west shore of Lake Champlain’s Mississquoi Bay with fuel nearby.

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Sea Doo Equipment

_MG_9227Let’s talk Sea Doo equipment. While riding your Sea-Doo watercraft, there’s no escaping constant exposure to the elements. Yet there’s no windshield, no helmet and no protective gear like on a motorcycle or snowmobile. So all those PWC riders clad only in swimsuits and PFDs shown in manufacturers’ ads and catalogues would quickly burn to a crisp or freeze. Equipping for your Sea-Doo tour isn’t about making a fashion statement, it’s about being totally comfortable to enjoy your ride, so think practical, not pretty. I found much of what I needed at my Sea-Doo dealer, Gateway Powersports & Marine.

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