Jet ski etiquette, safety, and rules of the water

A guide to the safest ways to jet ski

While the thrill of a jet skiing comes from speeding across the water, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it responsibly. Jet skiers have responsibilities to other water users — as a well as themselves — to ride in a safe and sensible manner. It’s important to know how to stay safe and how to behave with respect to other users when sharing the water.

The following guide aims to give you a few safety tips as well as the low-down on jet skiing rules and etiquette — which will ensure you operate your jet ski in the correct manner and stay safe while you enjoy yourself.

Jet ski etiquette, safety, and rules of the water

Right of way for jet skis
Boats and other commercial and fishing vessels always have the right of way — so when you’re approaching an oncoming craft, stay to the right. Also, if you are about to cross paths with another boat or jet ski, the craft on the right side has the right of way.

Awareness of other water users
You should always be on the lookout for traffic on the water. It’s best to know where other boats are and where they’re heading before you make a turn or cross a wake. Sadly, collisions are the most common type of accident when jet skiing — so take particular attention to what other craft are around you and where they are going.

Wave or wake jumping
If your course takes you across the wake of another craft, make sure that the craft does not obstruct both your own visibility and your visibility to others. Larger boats may not see you, and may not be able to get out of your way in time to avoid a collision.

Operating speed for jet skis
Speed limits are usually set by local regulations or by-laws, so follow the limits, whether they are posted or not. It is your responsibility to know the local speed limit, and failure to keep to it could end up with you facing a fine — or worse still, being involved in an accident. In congested areas it might be wise to lower your speed accordingly, just as you would if you were driving a car.

Wear the proper safety equipment for jet skiing
Wear an approved life jacket and eye protection to prevent water spray from obscuring your vision. Tennis shoes or deck shoes and gloves offer better control of your machine, while a wet suit provides protection from the elements. A whistle attached to your life jacket can be used to summon help in the event of an emergency situation.

Safety lanyard for jet skiing
Never operate your jet ski without the safety lanyard attached to you, as the lanyard will immediately cut the jet ski’s engine if you fall from the craft. This safety feature can help to prevent bad accidents — so always use it!

Noise of jet skis
Be conscious of the noise your craft makes. The best way to avoid noise complaints is to avoid operating at high speed near to the shoreline, waterfront properties and other boaters. You should also reduce noise early in the morning. In addition, always start the jet ski engine in the water, and warm up the engine before you set off.

Environment around your jet ski
It shouldn’t need saying, but don’t spill fuel, oil or leave litter or other pollutants where they don’t belong. Also, don’t operate your jet ski close to wildlife or aquatic vegetation. This will minimize the impact your craft has on nature, as well as spare the craft’s machinery from unnecessary damage.

Other water enthusiasts
Jet skiers must share the waters with boats, fisherman, swimmers, surfers, and water skiers. You should keep your distance and respect their rights to safety, access and use of the water.

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