Chapter 7: Water Cleanliness and Small Vessels

Controlling a Personal Watercraft

When operating a PWC, keep in mind that one loses the ability to steer the vessel when one takes their hand off the throttle. The stream of water, which propels the PWC through the water is also what allows one to steer it. So, when easing up on the throttle, steering capabilities also diminish. This is especially important for those new to operating PWCs, so take extra caution when approaching a dock, shore, or an obstacle which needs to be avoided.

Additionally, consider that PWCs don't usually come with brakes and can take hundreds of feet to come to a stop when traveling at full speed.

Controlling a Personal Watercraft

Because of this, one will need to be cautious when maneuvering a PWC. Practice slowing down, stopping, and get used to avoiding obstacles.

PWC manufacturers have made several innovations to make PWCs easier and safer to maneuver. Most newer PWCs have "Off-Throttle Steering," which senses when an operator is attempting to avoid an obstacle and assists by giving the PWC some extra power, which is usually enough to avoid the hazard. Other PWCs are actually designed with braking technology. This is achieved by essentially putting the PWC into reverse, which slows it down quickly.

Even with these innovations, it is still vital to understand the basics of handling a PWC. Remember that one needs to apply the throttle in order to steer a PWC. Always make sure to allow enough time and space to slow down, turn, and stop when needed.