What You Need to Know Before PWC Shopping Starts…

get started personal watercraft riding

Related: Sea Doo Watercraft for Sale – Sea Doo Buying Tips

Where does a total novice go in search of information about how to get started personal watercraft riding? Typically, I provide expert advice and tips for jet ski riders on Sea Doo tours. I assume some level of prior powersports participation. But that doesn’t help someone with little or no previous experience – someone that may have a casual curiosity about how to get started personal watercraft riding, but doesn’t have a PWC, hasn’t been on one or doesn’t know the basics. If this is you or anyone you know, here are some preliminary fundamentals to consider…

Get Started Personal Watercraft Riding – Marine Experience

get started personal watercraft riding

Do you have any previous experience around the water? Maybe you are already boater, angler or cottager or know how to operate a motorboat. Perhaps you grew up at a family cottage, went to summer camp by a lake, or did some swimming, water sports or paddling? If so, you may already be somewhat familiar with basics like what personal flotation device to wear or how to dock properly.

The point here is being honest with yourself about your experience and comfort level around the water. Not having any doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get started personal watercraft riding, it just means you have to learn about being on and near the water as well as how to become a competent jet ski, waverunner or Sea Doo rider.

Get Started Personal Watercraft Riding – Powersports Experience

get started personal watercraft riding

Maybe you don’t have much marine know-how, but you have been or are you into land-based motorsports such as snowmobiling, ATVing or motorcycling? Any familiarity you may have acquired with these recreational activities will stand you in good stead to help get started personal watercraft riding.

Everything from understanding throttle and brake levers to knowing body English and balance to being comfortable with steering control and how engine power feels will be valuable for Sea Doo riding. So will any mechanical / troubleshooting skills, riding etiquette or fuelling experience you may have picked up along the way.

Get Started Personal Watercraft Riding – Visualize Yourself

get started personal watercraft riding

It’s important to think from the get-go about what you picture yourself doing with a jet ski. Do you see yourself casually using it primarily to toot around your cottage, to visit neighbours or as a tender for your cruiser? Do you imagine yourself mainly playing with it, doing tricks, or using it for tow sports? Maybe you’ve got the exploring bug and envision yourself riding around for different waterway adventures or even going on a Sea Doo tour. Do you picture yourself mainly on small lakes and rivers or will you be spending more time around big water?

Finally, do you visualize yourself normally riding as the only one aboard your jet ski or do you see it as more of a multi-passenger vehicle? Are you in fact the main rider or will others also be using it? Do you always want to ride double or does this mean you actually need more than one personal watercraft? Your mental impression will go a long way to determining how to get started personal watercraft riding.

Get Started Personal Watercraft Riding – Practical Logistics

get started personal watercraft riding

Photo © by Martin Lortz

Your next step is to consider where you live and where you will most often do your Sea Doo riding. Unless you actually reside on the water and have a dock or nearby marina, where are you going to keep your jet ski and how are you going to get it to and from the water? Do you have room to park it at home? At the cottage? On water or off? How will you get it back and forth from your dealer for service as required?

It may well be that you will need a personal watercraft trailer – and where will you keep that? What will you tow it with and where will you store your jet ski(s) and trailer in the off-season? These considerations will help refine your mental impression of what you need to get started personal watercraft riding.

Get Started Personal Watercraft Riding – Try It First

get started personal watercraft riding

Photo © by Martin Lortz

So you’ve moved from wishful thinking to thoughtful action. But before purchasing, talk to friends who are already jet ski owners for their opinions, insights and advice. Visit several dealerships to familiarize yourself with what brands and models are available. This will help you understand and work through my list of personal watercraft buying tips.

But before making any commitment, try a test ride. You can do this through a dealership, with a friend who has one, or by renting one for a couple of hours. Depending on where you live, to do this you may need a licence. In Canada, it’s called a Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card and it can be obtained easily online after completing a simple test. This card is not personal watercraft specific. Instead, it’s all about making sure everyone on the water knows that basic “rules of the road”. Prior to any test riding, it will also be helpful to check out my safe Sea Doo riding tips.

When you do decide to buy your own personal watercraft, you’ll discover a wealth of great advice, riding tips and much more throughout the rest of my website. Here, you’ll also find many self-guided Sea Doo tours you can do to expand your personal watercraft riding horizons, so why not get started personal watercraft riding today?


Check out my favourite Sea-Doo rides!

If you enjoyed this post, check out my other riding tips.

The tips and advice in this article are the opinions of the author, may not work in every situation and are intended only for the convenience and interest of the reader, who has the personal responsibility to confirm the validity, accuracy and relevancy of this information prior to putting it to their own use.


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