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The Ride

The following information assumes that your boat is already on or near the water.

Think: You have completed your personal safety checklist and that of your personal watercraft and are now ready to enjoy a ride. What sequence of events happens next?

  • Before you begin your ride, be confident that you are a competent swimmer and know that you should travel only a reasonable distance from shore.

  • Open the engine compartment. Allow any gas fumes to vent. Sniff for fumes. Check your fuel. Verify that you have enough fuel for your planned ride.

  • Locate an area in which to take your first few rides where you will not have to worry about swimmers and other boat traffic.

  • The operator is responsible for communicating to a passenger what to do if they fall off, the PWC capsizes, or any number things that could happen while out on the water. Communication is essential for a safe ride.

  • Buckle up your life jacket (personal flotation device).

  • Be sure your PWC is in water at least at the depth recommended by the manufacturer (30 inches) and that the area is free of debris, weeds, and trash.

  • Mount your watercraft as recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Attach the stop lanyard to your wrist, PFD, or clothing, as appropriate, and to the PWC's lanyard terminal so it will stop the engine if you fall off. Only plug in the lanyard at the last moment.

  • Start your engine and proceed slowly away from the dock or shoreline, checking your steering and throttle as you ease away. Just as larger boat users, you, a PWC operator, are responsible for any damage to persons or property caused by your wake and objects propelled from your jet nozzle.

  • Check that the area ahead is clear and continue to proceed slowly.

  • Obey all speed regulations. Be alert to your surroundings and follow the established traffic pattern in the area. Some states establish a direction of operation on smaller lakes. Check in all directions before accelerating.

  • Obey all markers and signs and follow the nautical rules of the road.

  • Always look behind you before you turn.

  • Exercise courtesy and common sense to make your ride enjoyable for everyone.

  • Return to shore well before dark and before you become fatigued. Conserve your energy for stowing your personal watercraft after the ride and getting home safely.

  • If you experience difficulty with your PWC's handling or with the ride, return to shore. Check your manufacturer's recommendations for fixing the problem or get more instruction on using your PWC.

In light of the new security measures brought about by the events of September 11, 2001, it is critical that all boaters be aware of and comply with new homeland security measures set forth by federal, state, and local governments. These include, but are not limited to, keeping a safe prescribed distance from military and commercial ships and avoiding commercial port operation areas, observing all security zones, following guidelines for appropriate conduct such as not stopping or anchoring beneath bridges or in a channel, and observing and reporting suspicious activity to the proper authority.

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