traveling safely before you get to the water
checks to perform
of casting off and returning to shore
to look for while under way
for towing a skier
with your PWC on a trailer is subject to all of the laws outlined
in the California vehicle code. In addition, driving with a
trailer requires extra practice and caution. Be especially careful
when going around sharp curves, when backing and when you are
launching at a boat ramp.
that the trailer:
licensed with the Department of Motor Vehicles and you have
the registration certificate in the towing vehicle.
and safety chains are in good condition and properly attached.
are in good condition and are properly inflated.
are in good condition and secure.
no loose bolts, cracks, or broken joints.
are lubricated and adjusted according to manufacturer's recommendations.
cock on the PWC is in the "off" position.
cans and other gear are secure.
and understand the owner's manual. Be familiar with the steering
apparatus, and the mechanism that governs the PWC if the rider
falls off. Read the warning stickers on the craft.
the weather and water conditions.
that you have filed a float plan with a friend or family member.
the engine, battery fluids, oil and fuel levels.
the required safety equipment:
U.S. Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher is charged
backfire flame arrestor is clean and secure.
cutoff switch is working.
start/stop button is working.
sound signaling device is onboard (whistle or horn).
is a U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD for every person on
distress signals for coastal waters are on board.
the recommended safety equipment:
is a basic first aid kit.
is an anchor and a tow line of the correct length.
is an extra lanyard.
is a phone or VHF radio.
is a tool kit for simple repairs.
your personal equipment:
suitable clothing: wetsuit, eye protection with a leash, gloves,
helmet, booties, or boat shoes.
jackets are in good condition.
attached to life jacket.
the condition of the PWC:
is not damaged.
compartment is vented.
and oil caps are secure.
plug cables are secure.
grips are not loose.
connections are tight and not cracked or leaking.
plugs are in place and secure.
pump is not fouled.
springs back after being pressed.
mechanism moves easily.
cover is secure.
compartment covers, seat cushions, and footwell pads are secure.
that the lanyard is attached to your wrist or life jacket.
that the fuel cock is in the "on" position.
the steering and throttle as the PWC is eased away from the
your surroundings. Watch for swimmers and other boats. Leave
the dock or beach area slowly. Remember the 5 mph law within
200 feet of a beach and 100 feet of anyone in the water.
the water depth. Never operate the PWC in shallow water because
materials may be sucked up from the bottom causing damage to
the pump. The natural environment including plants, animals
and soils can also be harmed. Manufacturers recommend 18 to
24 inches of water that is free of debris and weeds.
for other boats, swimmers, and water skiers. Be cautious when
turning: look to both sides and aft.
and obey the speed laws, right of way, navigation markers, and
your noise. Be courteous, limit noise by not boating in one
place for too long.
and monitor weather and water conditions including: tides, river
flows, wind, visibility, ocean swells and waves, storm conditions,
and debris in the water.
the current or water flow. Avoid strong currents as they can
be hazardous to riders trying to reach and reboard their watercraft.
the waterway. Avoid rocky areas and jetties because of unpredictable
currents and a possible collision.
the fuel; conserve to make sure you can get back to shore. Remember
the one-third rule: one-third of a tank out, one-third back
in, and one-third for safety.
the time. Return before dark or before you are too tired.
Tow a Water Skier Behind a PWC
a person on water skis, an aquaplane or a similar device is
not recommended with any PWC smaller than a three-person craft,
in order to accommodate the operator, observer and skier.
addition to the operator and skier, you must have an observer
on board who is at least 12 years old.
skier must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
observer must display a red or orange signal flag (minimum 12"
square) to indicate:
skier in the water preparing to ski.
ski line extended from the PWC.
ski or other gear in the water.
should know the standard hand signals in order to be able to
communicate between the skier and those on board. (See Diagrams)
aware that your PWC will handle differently when towing a skier.
should always be: on the lookout for other vessels, aware of
where the skier is in relation to the shoreline or other obstructions,
and aware of towlines, skis and other items that may be in the
is illegal to tow a skier between sunset and sunrise.
your speed. Slow to minimum speed as you approach the landing
the water depth. Be prepared to get off the watercraft and push
it ashore or to its mooring site.
- It is preferable to fuel your PWC while it is on the trailer
in the parking lot or at a gas station. However, if you need to
add fuel to the PWC on the beach, it is important to take all
necessary precautions to prevent spilling fuel. Pull the PWC up
on the beach as far as possible so that accidentally spilled fuel
will not go directly into the water. Wrap a rag around the opening
to the gasoline tank and pour the gasoline in very slowly. When
you hear or see that the tank is nearly full, stop pouring the
gasoline. Do not overfill because gasoline expands as it warms.
Never top off when fueling on a beach because this is the most
common way spills occur. Replace the cap tightly when you are
done. Air the rag until it is dry or store it in a covered metal
Damage - Shallow water in bays, lagoons and any other waterway
are sensitive habitats. These shallows are critical areas for
many plants, and are nurseries for fish and shellfish. Operating
your PWC may harm these delicate ecosystems, which are often identifiable
by floating plantlife. Avoid operating your PWC in any potentially
Harassment - It is illegal to harass any wildlife including
marine mammals and any birdlife. Harassment is defined as any
action that changes the natural behavior of the animal. This may
include simply causing a bird to fly away or a marine mammal,
such as a seal, to leave the beach or rock. The Marine Mammal
Protection Act of 1972 states that you must stay at least 1,000
feet away from any marine mammal.