Getting personal power on board your jet
ARIZONA banker Clayton Jacobson, a keen dirt bike racer, bit the dust one too many times. He loved the thrill of riding but hated the falls. One day, as he watched small dinghies scamper about his local waterway, it occurred to him that falling on water is a lot less painful than falling on dirt.
He gave up his job and spent the next year developing what today is called a personal water craft or jet ski.
There had been earlier propeller-powered versions in the late ’50s in Europe called water scooters but Jacobson’s version was jet-powered, revolutionary at the time.
It wasn’t long before big businesses started knocking at his door, with Bombardier the first out of the starting blocks in the late ’60s, although this first design did not prove popular.
Kawasaki came up with a single-person stand-up version that took the world by storm.
These days most personal water craft are sit-down models, although the stand-up version is still available and popular for stunts and trick riding.
The PWC has proven to be one of the most versatile boats on the water. Available in a huge range of sizes, horsepower and designs, they are used not only for recreation but also adapted for surf lifesavers, water police and security officers.
If you love the thrill of going fast, the latest supercharged models will rival a race car in performance, hitting a staggering 130km/h, which feels twice as fast on water.
The more powerful multi-seat models can be used for towing a skier or tube around for great summer fun.
If you prefer a leisurely cruise through our waterways with the sea breeze keeping you cool, there are models with excellent stability, multiple seats for passengers and storage for the picnic basket that fit the bill.
Owners have also customised their PWC into excellent fishing platforms complete with rod holders, ice box and tackle storage, making a versatile machine capable of getting into a lot of areas. It is not uncommon to see PWC offshore on the shallow reefs on a calm day trolling for mackerel with great success.
They are governed by the same regulations as larger boats, which means you’re required to have an EPIRB when more than two nautical miles offshore and you are also required to wear a lifejacket at all times.
To skipper a PWC you need an endorsement on your boat licence, but it is a simple course that will also teach you some basic skills.
Whether it is exhilarating speed for the adrenalin rush, exploring the waterways on a hot summer day or a dedicated fishing machine with a difference, a PWC has a lot to offer and is well worth considering if you’re in the market for a boat.