Used for touring, towsports and surf life saving, PWCs are not one-dimensional noise machines...
Personal watercraft (PWC) differ from boats, in that the rider sits or stands on the vessel, rather than being ‘in’ the vessel. Each vessel is powered by an inboard jet pump with an impeller, which creates powerful thrust for propulsion and steering – and delivers an exhilarating ride.
Designed for two or three (and sometimes four) people, the acceleration of a PWC makes this type of vessel particularly attractive to those seeking uncomplicated and instant performance on the water.
Light to tow, easy to launch and retrieve and requiring minimal storage space at home, PWCs are particularly popular among people living in the inner-city, who crave to get out on the water after a long week in the office.
Many of the touring model PWCs feature ample onboard storage, so a couple of people can load up their PWC with camping gear and supplies and head away for a weekend on the water. This is a popular use of PWCs on large freshwater rivers and lakes, as well as some of the country’s larger estuary systems.
It’s a great way to enjoy the water, much like the freedom of hitting the open road on a motorcycle.
The incredible acceleration of PWCs lend themselves perfectly for use as tow vessels for skiing and wakeboarding.
Such is the versatility of modern PWCs, the observer can sit facing aft to watch for the skier/boarder when they fall. Again, the cavernous storage of many PWCs allows rope, towels and refreshments to be stowed away.
PWCs are also in popular use among many big wave surfers. A PWC has the speed to tow surfers into the big waves they would often otherwise be unable to catch.
Some riders also use their PWCs in the surf in their own right – jumping waves and performing tricks. It’s an awesome sight to watch an experienced rider in the surf.
The power and manoevrability of PWCs also sees them in widespread use among surf lifesaving organisations and water police around Australia.
While safety is paramount in all boating activities, there are additional regulations that apply to PWCs.
Most states/territories require riders to have a PWC licence (in addition to a recreational boat operator's licence) and you’ll also need to be up to speed with PWC restriction areas and environmental concerns.
Developing operational skills that promote safety and courtesy are imperative. Learning to use the throttle and steering properly, practising high-speed stopping and steering manouevres, and scanning the horizon constantly for other boats are some basic starting points.
The key is to be aware of others while on the water, as accidents can happen – and when they do, they happen very fast.