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Avoiding Damage To Your New Sea-Doo...
Many of those reading these forums are new to the sport. If you just made your first personal watercraft purchase WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF PWC!!!

We often get new owners on here asking about safety issues and how to take care of their watercraft. Here are a few tips I typed out for another thread, others please feel free to add more comments as you see fit...

In my experience the real "damage risk" on PWC's comes from IMPACTS and UNDERWATER OBJECTS, usually in several KEY AREAS...

Without proper care they can easily get crunched on the pilings and smashed from wakes while tied to a dock, also coming in too fast is VERY common—99% of PWC have NO BRAKES—WHAM!!! If you have never operated a PWC before, be advised; they are NOT like driving a motorcycle and they NOT exactly like steering a big boat either. Most models have no neutral which is confusing to a lot of new users. Usually this can be easily countered by modulating the forward/reverse lever while steering, but it takes a little patience. Any newbie can operate a PWC at high speed, but get them around a dock and—watch out! So if you are new to the machine, PRACTICE your slow maneuvering and reverse, and be extra careful around docks.

Again—coming in too fast is a common problem (SLOW DOWN) I have seen MANY boats and PWC get banged up bow areas from lack of patience and practice in trailering; CRUNCH! I have seen trailer bunks cracked in half because the operator hit the trailer so hard. Pay attention at the ramp, turn your radio down when backing up your vehicle and make sure you have properly secured your craft before you take off. It is actually not uncommon for PWC to get dropped on the concrete ramp when they slide off the trailer, because the owner forgot to connect the bow ring to the strap. Before hitting the highway, make sure you use stern straps in back with safety chains or cables on the bow; we have seen more than one member who had their new watercraft fly off the trailer and end up on the road—OUCH!

Or another boat hitting you, it's easy to do, keep your eyes on the water when underway and constantly scan around your craft for other vessels (avoid tunnel vision). In particular, watch out for impacts with other PWC, avoid riding in close groups with aggressive riders. Accidents can happen super fast on personal watercraft. Do NOT allow other skis to get close to you—there are some real idiots on the water, and by the same token—do NOT get close to others yourself. Watch out for impacts in marinas... fishing boats, weekend warriors, pontoons, etc. are all notorious for getting right up next to your docked or anchored ski—and wait until you see what his lifted outboard prop can do to your gel coat, OUCH!

Not all damage is on the top side... avoid shallow water, don't EVER ride up on the bank and beach your PWC (experienced riders always laugh at people who do this). Cut the engine off, get off the ski in 2 or 3 feet of water and wade it in to the shore. Watch out for logs, oyster bars, floating weeds, cement blocks, debris, ski ropes and rocks; many of these can impact your hull or get SUCKED UP into your grate and cause SERIOUS damages in a matter of seconds. At the very least, you will damage your wear ring and this can cause a significant loss in performance! I can't tell you how many newbs have caused major damage to their ski simply from running over a ski rope, it happens all the time. Are you listening? Read your manual, and play it smart.

This is a lot of fun, all of us have done it, but it's not a good idea on these heavier 4 stroke models—they are simply not designed for it. Still, we have people who will go out and launch their ski off six, seven or eight foot waves, smash back into the water and wonder why they are damaging their machines. You can easily get cracks in the hull, tear off your reverse bucket or break a motor mount. Breaking a mount can shift the engine out of alignment and damage the seal on the shaft which can sink your PWC. Are you listening? Check your manual, they are very specific about jumping waves, and if you crack the hull or flood and hydro-lock your engine your dealer will laugh at you because abuse of your watercraft is NOT covered under warranty. I won't even talk about the damage you can do to your teeth if you slip and face-plant that handlebar without a helmet. Wanna catch big air? Get a wakeboard.

It never fails; how many times have we seen the posts on this forum; "MY BUDDY CRASHED MY @#&% SKI," or "MY BUDDY RAN IT WITHOUT OIL," or "MY BUDDY SUCKED UP A SKI ROPE"... well, why did you LOAN IT TO THEM? I would venture to say that MOST accidents happen like this, you have been warned—be VERY cautious about loaning out your PWC and make sure you take time to instruct them on slow maneuvering before they leave the ramp area, because eventually they will be heading back to the dock and that takes us back to number 1 above.

Kids love to go fast, and many of these modern PWC's often have engines in the 200 hp range (not your Daddy's ski), so you need to be very cautious and make sure you check the local laws in your state with regard to allowing minors to operate your watercraft! Are you listening? For example, in Florida; to operate a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or greater (including PWCs), a person 21 years of age or younger must have completed a boater education course, and carry both the card and ID at all times they are on the water. Furthermore, no one under 14 years of age may operate any PWC on Florida waters at any time, even if they possess a Boating Safety Education ID Card! AND, It is also illegal for the owner of a PWC to knowingly allow a person under 14 years of age to operate their PWC! Again, make sure you check the local laws in your state and please be careful because many of these watercraft have more horsepower than a lot of cars and we want not only your PWC to be safe but also your kids to be safe!

No matter how careful you are, accidents happen. No matter where you live, there are thieves and they LOVE to steal personal watercraft. Still, I am always surprised to see people on this forum who claim to be riding these powerful watercraft with no insurance. This is a HUGE personal liability and a big mistake, especially in today's world of lawsuit-happy citizens! Besides the very high risk of theft, the risk of personal injury to you and others makes this crazy. The policies are only a few hundred a year so smarten up and make sure you're covered.

Okay have fun out there, obey the law, ALWAYS wear your PFD and ENJOY YOUR PERSONAL WATERCRAFT...

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Thanks for this info! Is there anyway we can get a thread with routine things we should be checking/doing before and after rides? I have watched several of the Sea Doo YouTube videos, but they don't seem to be very specific. We are taking ours out for the third time this weekend! Hoping to finally finish the break in period, and NOT suck up anymore sticks! :)
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