When I was asked about how I plan for a long jetski ride (or any ride for that matter) I immediately thought of something my very good friend, Sam, used to say to me; “Man Plans and God Laughs.” I think that the best planning you can do for a trip is to plan for the unexpected and for the things that you don’t want to happen. Unfortunately, the things I list below have all happened to me, so experience has been my teacher. So what are the things that I don’t want to happen on my trips?
A Break-Down: One of the most important things I do is trying to keep my ski in good working condition – I take care of it and it usually takes care of me. I also practice Preventive Maintenance – it doesn’t always work but it is a good habit to get into. Before a long trip I have my ski checked over by a good mechanic.
Having No Help: I am a firm believer in having Seatow or Boat US tow insurance. I have BOTH as I learned the hard way that depending on the area you’re cruising, or how busy a company is, can mean being stranded for a long time or not getting help at all if they don’t cover the waters you are in. Towing insurance is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Getting Lost or Running out of Fuel: I take the time to study charts before I take a trip, especially in new waters. It is not imperative to have a GPS, in my opinion, to travel by PWC, but knowledge of your cruising area will come in handy. Doesn’t hurt to have charts on your phone just in case either. I also try to figure out gas stops along the way before departing. This is easy when checking charts before heading out.
I often ride solo so for me perhaps the most important thing is let someone know my planned trip and to check in on a regular basis. It’s reassuring knowing that someone is looking out for you on land if you don’t make that scheduled call. The other thing is to be realistic with your plan – know your limitations and the limitations of the people you are traveling with. Also know the limitations of your PWC. Long trips are great, but safety when planning is imperative.
Another thing that I do is always tried to take extra gear with me. The weather can change, the water can get cooler, or just after riding all day I might get cold so I take a wetsuit jacket and gloves no matter how hot the day. I take some cereal bars just in case I don’t want to make an extended stop for food. The other thing I am sure to take is an extra battery for my cell phone as well as a charger. When I stop for gas or food I try to give my phone a charge so it is always available when I might need it. I know that most of us have a cell phone that doubles as our camera but there is nothing like a dedicated waterproof camera instead so you can take as many pictures as you want and not have to worry about ruining your phone – or not having it functional when you need it. I carry a waterproof marine radio as well.
No matter how well you plan for a trip it only takes one thing to happen (the gas station you planned on stopping at is closed or it takes longer to fuel up than anticipated; the place you were stopping at for food is no longer there; someone you are riding with breaks down) that now forces you to alter your itinerary, so I always try to have some kind of alternate plan in mind. And along the same lines, you have to be flexible in your planning. If the water gets too rough, or the weather turns bad, for instance, you should be able to make adjustments.
The best thing to do is get out on the water and explore and not be afraid to take extended trips. You do it in your car, why not on your PWC? With only a little planning, mostly for safety, you’ll be surprised at how far you can go and how much you can do on your PWC.