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What is PWC ?
The official definition of personal watercraft (PWC) varies from state to state, but they are generally recognized as a vessel which uses an inboard motor powering a water jet pump as its primary source of motive power. The vessels are designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing or kneeling. PWC are manufactured by BRP (Sea-Doo®), Kawasaki (JET SKI®), and Yamaha (WaveRunner®).
Definition of PWC in different states
The official definition of personal watercraft (PWC) varies from state to state, but they are generally recognized as a vessel which uses an inboard motor powering a water jet pump as its primary source of motive power. The vessels are designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing or kneeling.
The popularity of pwc
Personal Water Craft (PWC) have become a major force in boating over the last few years, now accounting for over 1/3 of new boat sales annually. There are about one MILLION PWCs in use today.
That is a huge number of boats, and unfortunately there is an equal amount of misunderstanding to go along with them.
Is a pwc even considered a boat ?
Did you know that a PWC was even considered a boat? Many people don’t, and think of them more as toys that require no training or knowledge of how they work. To start, think of the terms used for a boat – they will be the same for a PWC.
When PWCs first came on the market
they were generally designed for only one person and were designed for high maneuverability. They were usually only available as stand-up models, and had few features
Water jet devices (WJD) include JetpaksTM, JetlevsTM, FlyboardsTM, JetovatorsTM, HydroliftTM, and JetsurfTM, and other similar devices where individuals ride a hydro-powered apparatus above the surface of the water while connected to a PWC or other power source that supplies thrust to the WJD through a hose connecting the two devices. When the PWC and WJD devices are connected they are considered to be one vessel.
Increasing popularity of pwc
Over the last several years, two, three and even four seat models have become the top sellers. These craft are much more substantial than earlier craft, and are even capable of pulling a water skier. Today’s models generally come with a good deal of storage space for gear, and have a very traditional “dashboard” with gauges. Remember, your PWC operator’s manual will tell you the specifics of your boat, including tips on safe operation, and how many people you can safely carry.
Regulations and standards
Personal Water Craft are considered by the Coast Guard to be Class A inboard motor vessels and as such must adhere to the same Coast Guard regulations and standards as any other powerboats in this category, such as they must have a fire extinguisher on board, and must have an appropriate sound signaling device such as a horn or athletic whistle.
They are also subject to USCG manufacturing and load capacity standards, which may be found on the capacity plate and in the owners manual.
They must be registered with the state, and must also obey the Nautical Rules of the Road.
Many states require that Personal Floatation Devices be worn at all times while on a PWC.
Many states also regulate the operation of personal watercraft within their borders by prohibiting them from specified lakes and boating areas, or by placing geographic or time restrictions on their use .
Some states require an adult to be on board when a minor is operating the craft, or may require completion of a boating safety course before a minor can legally operate a PWC.
All PWCs must be registered according to state regulations, and have a registration number displayed. Follow state guidelines for specific regulations.
How does pwc work?
PWCs are operated by two-cycle inboard gasoline engines that drive a jet water pump. Water is taken in through a water pick-up on the bottom of the PWC, drawn into an internal propeller (an impeller) that creates a jet of high pressure water which exits through a nozzle on the back of the PWC.
Differences between boats and pwc
Even though PWCs are considered to be boats, there are a few differences that you need to know.
Virtually no PWCs have running lights as all manufacturers recommend that they only be used during daylight. In fact, many states ban the use of PWCs at night.
Manually propelled vessels
Canoes, kayaks, standup paddleboards and rafts all belong to the category of manually propelled vessel commonly referred to as paddle craft.
PWC are propelled by a jet drive where water is drawn into a pump and then forced out under pressure through a steering nozzle at the back of the unit. This “jet” of pressurized water is directed by the steering control—when the steering control is turned, the steering nozzle turns in the same direction. For example, if the steering control is turned right, the nozzle turns right and the jet of water pushes the back of the vessel to the left, which causes the PWC to turn right.
Discuss importance aspects of operating a personal watercraft
The most important thing to remember about steering most PWC (and other jet-drive vessels) is that you always must have power in order to maintain control. If you allow the engine on a PWC or other jet-propelled vessel to return to idle or shut off during operation, you may lose all steering control. Many PWC will continue in the direction they were headed before the throttle was released or the engine was shut off, no matter which way the steering control is turned.
Dangers of both the jet stream and the danger of personal watercraft (PWC) sucking in hair or clothing at a fast rate. PWC have reduced protection commonly resulting in extremity injuries.
A common type of accident
A common type of accident for PWC is operating in close proximity and the danger of crossing or jumping the wake of another vessel. This does not allow personal watercraft operators the ability to see potential hazards on the opposite side of the boat that is creating the wake.
In case of falling off
PWCs are self-righting if you fall off. Don’t abandon your vessel if it overturns. Simply turn it over on the direction marked on the hull or as indicated in the user’s manual that you read prior to use. Righting your craft improperly may make it more difficult than necessary to re-board, and you could cause internal damage to your PWC. To re-board your craft, approach the rear of the PWC, pull yourself up into a kneeling position, take your seat, start it up and continue on your trip. This sounds easier than it is – it is often quite difficult to re-board a PWC, especially in rough water or when fatigued. A good idea is to practice in calm shallow water before venturing out.
Most models have an automatic cut-off lanyard (which must be attached to the operator’s wrist or life jacket at all times) or self-circling feature to prevent a PWC from going far from a driver who has fallen off.
Operator with a child in front of him
Always allow plenty of room for stopping. You may not stop immediately even after releasing the throttle or shutting off the engine. Even PWC that have a braking system do not stop immediately. Never use reverse (if equipped) to stop a PWC because you or your passengers could be thrown from it.
water spray can greatly affect your vision. Goggles or wrap around glasses offer the best protection.
Shoes or sandals will protect your feet and give you added traction.
In colder water a wet suit will provide extra comfort by keeping you warm. Nettle suits will protect you from stinging nettles in the summer.
Make sure all operating controls are working properly – steering controls, stop button, lanyard cut-off, and throttle.
Check your engine – fluid levels, hose connections, oil level/leaks, and finally make sure the engine compartment cover is properly secured.
A properly fitting life jacket, gloves, wetsuit, eye, head and foot gear, and a helmet will all help protect you from injury.
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