How To Pick the Best Personal Watercraft Paddle For You

There are a number of accessories that can be purchased for personal watercraft. An excellent investment for yours would be a paddle. There is a multitude of reasons to own this essential tool.

How do you pick the best paddle for your personal watercraft? To choose the best PWC paddle for your needs measure possible choices in the marketplace against these important considerations; where you will store it, what style you are looking for, and the potential situations where you may be required to use it.

They are great for a number of situations you could find yourself in while out on the water. As far as personal watercraft accessories go, a paddle is one of the key items you should purchase as soon as you pick up your personal watercraft. 

What are the Uses for a Paddle on a Personal Watercraft?

If Your Battery is Dead

Like with any other motorized vehicle, a Jet Ski’s battery can die. There are a variety of reasons this might happen, including overcharging, improper winter storage, and lack of use.

Because a personal watercraft is used less than something like a car, the battery is more likely to run out of juice.

When you are stranded out in the water without power to your craft, a paddle will be essential for you to get to a safe place. With a little bit of effort, you and your personal watercraft can make it back to shore.

If You Get Stuck on Rocks

Even the most experienced rider can get stuck on a pile of rocks or barely visible underwater rocks. There is a multitude of surprising obstacles out on the water, so always be careful and prepared.

If you find yourself stuck on rocks or another immobile object, a paddle will be handy for pushing your personal watercraft off of the object. Grip the handle, and use force to push the opposite end into the object, freeing yourself from the obstruction. 

If You Run out of Gas

We have all been there; out having so much fun on the water that you lose track of time and completely forget to refill the gas tank. It is an easy mistake to make and completely understandable.

It is also an easy mistake to overcome if you have a paddle readily available. With a little bit of effort, you can paddle yourself back to shore, and fill that empty tank back up.

If You Need to Reach a Person in the Water

There are a number of reasons someone might be out in the water, awaiting your rescue.

They could be your passenger, who fell off the back of your personal watercraft. They might have fallen out of another person’s watercraft or could be someone that overestimated their own swimming abilities.

In any of these scenarios, a paddle is a perfect tool to help get them safely onto your Jet Ski. You can reach out with the paddle and tow them in close to your craft.

If You Need to Flag Down Another Watercraft

You might get stranded in the water and not have the energy to paddle back. You may have a medical emergency or a mechanical failure.

In such cases, you can use a paddle to draw the attention of a passerby. Those in the boating community are usually willing to lend a hand.

You could wave your arms around frantically, but a paddle is going to be longer than your arms and often comes in bright colors. The length and color are more likely to capture someone’s attention.

If You Want to Go where Motorized Watercraft are not Permitted

Say you spot something interesting that you would like to investigate up a stream, but a sign says that motors are not allowed upstream. Or your favorite fishing spot is less than 2 feet deep in spots. No problem. Shut the motor off and grab your paddle.

Paddling is not something you would want to do for a long journey. Your jet ski is more cumbersome than something like a canoe would be, so paddling it can be exhausting. But this is a perfect solution for a quick trip.

If You Need it for Self-defense

There is no such thing as being too safe or too cautious. Jet skis do get stolen. If you are attacked at any point out on the water or at the dock, your paddle could be used as a weapon for self-defense.

In a more likely scenario, you could be swarmed by insects or plants. A paddle is a great defense against bugs and foliage as well.

Parts of a Paddle and Their Purpose

The Blade

The blade is the flat, wide end of the paddle. Some have only one blade on the end, and others have a blade on each end. Most personal watercraft owners invest in a single-blade paddle.

The blade is used to cut through the water and propel your craft forward. The flat side of the blade pushes against the liquid, creating resistance and pushing you onward.

The Throat

The throat is where the blade and shaft meet on a paddle. The most important thing about the throat is that it remains strong. It is tapered to connect the two biggest sections of the paddle and must be sturdy enough to keep them together. 

The Shaft 

The shaft is the handle of the paddle, and it is located between the blade and the grip (source). On a telescoping paddle, it is the shaft that will extend and collapse.

There are two types of shafts: straight and bent. A straight shaft makes it easier to use different stroke styles. A bent shaft is designed to correct wrist and arm alignment and reduce exertion.

The Grip

The grip is the top of the paddle; one hand grasps this grip while the other hand grasps the shaft.

The two most popular types of grips are the pear and the T-grip. These grips look exactly like the names they were given: the pear grip is in a pear shape, and the T-grip looks like a capital T. 

The pear grip is most often used for canoeing. The T-grip is commonly used for white water rafting (source). 

Types of Personal Watercraft Paddle

Longer or Shorter Varieties

Telescoping

Telescoping paddles are quite possibly the most convenient of paddle options. They extend and collapse with a simple twist of the shaft.

Typical telescoping paddles extend to a length of 4 to 6 feet and collapse down to a size convenient for easy storage. They are compact, lightweight, and do not take up very much space. Most jet skiers will do fine with this inexpensive Airhead collapsible plastic brightly color paddle from Amazon.

Standard Size

A standard paddle will be anywhere from 4 to 6 feet long. They remain this length and do not collapse for convenient storage.

This length is perfect for easy paddling. Because it does not have moving parts, it is stronger than the telescoping option. However, the size does make them difficult to keep on a personal watercraft.

Mini

A mini paddle is a very short paddle that does not extend or collapse at all. They are typically between 12 and 24 inches and are often used for decorative purposes.

While this small size makes storage convenient, these short paddles are a lot harder to use. A Jet Ski rider would be required to lean very far to the side in order to reach the water with a mini paddle.

Paddle Material Variety

Wood

The first paddles in history were carved out of trees, and we still use wood to create paddles today. Because wood is such a solid substance, these paddles are very resilient. This material is not used to make telescoping paddles.

The types of wood commonly used to make paddles are cedar, spruce, walnut, and ash. The paddles are coated with urethane to protect them. 

Aluminum

Aluminum is used to make inexpensive and lightweight paddles. It is often used in the production of paddle shafts. These paddles are typically painted and have designs added to them.

Because aluminum is so easy to mold, it can be used to create telescoping paddles. They are not as sturdy as some of the other options but would be perfect for an emergency.

Carbon fiber

Carbon fiber is a very strong, durable substance used to manufacture paddles. They are typically the most expensive option but should last an extremely long time for a personal watercraft owner.

A carbon fiber paddle will be a bit heavier than aluminum or fiberglass but lighter than wood. It is exceptionally long-lasting and reliable.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is known for being lightweight and strong. It is typically used to manufacture shafts and can be found on a number of paddles. 

It is a stiff substance, which helps to increase the power of a paddle stroke. Power, efficiency, and lightness of weight make these a great choice.

Places to Purchase Your Paddle

Yamaha

This lightweight aluminum paddle available through Yamaha is both compact and affordable. Its telescoping shaft makes it convenient for storage.

Ace Hardware

This telescoping paddle from Ace Hardware extends to a full 6 feet. It is bright orange, which is perfect for the situations when you need to flag someone down. 

Walmart

Walmart has an extremely inexpensive option, that is only 4 ½ feet long. It’s small enough to fit on your personal watercraft, though it does not boast the telescoping feature. 

Amazon

Another bright orange option can be found on Amazon. It has a really pronounced boat hook on the grip, which would be extremely helpful for pulling the watercraft into the dock. It is pictured above.

More Information about Your Paddle

If you have a telescoping paddle, the best place to store it is in the compartment at the front of your personal watercraft. The compartment should be just long enough for the tool.

The paddle may rattle around inside of the space, so it would be helpful to use velcro, or something similar, to secure it.

Some types of paddles may sustain water damage if not taken care of properly. Prevent damage by letting it dry completely after use. During the Jet Ski season, be sure to store both your watercraft and paddle out of the water.

Some people might confuse a paddle with an oar, but they are two very different boating accessories. 

Oars are attached to a boat through a section called an oarlock. Oars are used on rowboats and larger sailing boats. With an oar, the user rows, which means they are propelling themselves backward.

A paddle can be single or double-bladed and must be held onto at all times as it is not attached to the boat. Paddles are used on a wide variety of vessels, including rafts, canoes, and Jet Skis. The user faces the direction they are moving while paddling.

Additional Personal Watercraft Accessories to Consider

Dry Box

Most people like to have their phones, wallet, and other important items on them when they go out on the water. A dry box is imperative to keep those items safe and dry.

They also float, so your personal belongings will not sink to the bottom of the body of water.

Some dry boxes have padding on the inside. This padding helps to protect your items from being rattled around and broken. You can toss your important possessions into the box and store the box inside your personal watercraft.

Dry Bag

A dry bag is similar to a dry box, and a bit cheaper. It does not have padding inside to keep items from breaking, but it does keep your belongings dry.

Cell phones are so expensive and, while most of them say they are water-resistant, do you really want to take that chance?

Cooler

When you are out having fun on your Jet Ski, you might get hungry and thirsty. That is when a cooler would come in handy. A hard cooler will not fit into the compartments on your personal watercraft, so be sure to find a small collapsible cooler. 

Towable Tube

Everybody loves being towed behind a watercraft on an inflatable tube. Be a good friend, and get one for your jet ski. There are many options, so make sure to get one that is safest for you and yours.

Tow Rope

An inflatable tube is useless without a tow rope, is it not? The general rule of thumb is to get a rope between 50 and 60 feet long. You want your tubers to be far enough away from your watercraft to prevent injury.

Make sure your tow rope is made of durable material, such as nylon. You might end up towing another personal watercraft with it at some point, so you want to make sure it is strong.

When I was younger, my dad used to buy a new cheap rope every summer. Once I was old enough to have my own boats, I realized a good rope with last 5 years or so, saving money in the long run.

Anchor

Feel like stopping to fish? Going for a swim? A jet ski anchor is going to be the accessory for you. It will keep your personal watercraft in one place for you.

There are a variety of anchor options out there, so research carefully, and make sure the one you choose is small enough to fit in your storage compartment. It is also vital to ensure that it can hold the weight of your Jet Ski.

BlueTooth Speaker

There is nothing better than being out on the water on a beautiful day, except maybe being out on the water on a beautiful day while listening to music.

Waterproofing technology has come so far, and there are many options for high-quality waterproof BlueTooth speakers.

Cover

A jet ski cover will be your best friend from the minute you buy your watercraft. It helps keep sun damage, water damage, and bird poop away.

The sun is so harmful to a personal watercraft it will fade the exterior finish after extended exposure. Keep your cover in good shape, and it will last for years. Clean it once or twice per season.

First Aid Kit

You never know what kind of scrapes or scratches you or your loved ones could receive while out on the water. There are rocks, fish hooks, and other potentially dangerous objects that can become a hazard.

You can find a small kit with just the essentials (bandaids, alcohol wipes, etc.) to keep in your storage compartment.

You can also make your own. Simply purchase a waterproof bag and fill it with adhesive bandages, gloves, gauze, antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, and ibuprofen.

Final Thoughts

Paddles are a great choice because you never know what you are going to encounter out on the water. Whether it be rocks, a stranded swimmer, or an empty gas tank, a paddle could be one of your most important accessories.

The most common type of paddle kept on a personal watercraft is an aluminum telescoping paddle. This option is an inexpensive choice and convenient for its ability to become compact.

Because aluminum is a softer metal, some of the options might not be right for your heavy personal watercraft.

When choosing a personal watercraft paddle, be sure to take a few things into consideration. Make sure you have enough room for the paddle on your Jet Ski since most personal watercraft do not have a ton of storage space.

Consider the situations you might need a paddle for, such as being stuck on rocks. Find one that fits your budget and is still strong enough to propel your craft forward.

Articles contain affiliate links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. The site is also an affiliate for other brands covered in our the content. We may earn a small commission when readers purchase through these links at no extra cost to the buyer.

Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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