Today’s personal watercraft vary widely in design are quite versatile; you can do just about anything with a jet ski that you can do with a boat. You can fish, play in the waves, pull water toys, and picnic on the beach. But getting your ski safely onto land takes a little care.
To beach a jet ski without risking damage, make sure you have a clear and unobstructed view of the place you want to store the craft. Approach slowly, idle speed is best. Turn off the engine when the intake is in about 3 feet of water, coast a few feet, then disembark and walk your ski to the shore or beach.
Beaching a Personal Watercraft
When you are riding your personal watercraft for the day you will need somewhere to put it when not in use.
When out, you park your vehicle in a designated parking spot. However, there are no designated spots to “park” your Jet Ski.
Much like a boat, a personal watercraft can be anchored in place until you are ready to leave the beach.
Of course, you will need to carry whatever you need from the water to the beach. Another option is to just pull your personal watercraft right onto the beach.
Before you decide to pull your personal watercraft onto the beach, you need to consider if it is the best option.
In some instances, using an anchor is the best way to keep your personal watercraft safe. However, anchors can be inconvenient if you are moving around every hour or two.
Considerations Before Beaching
The tides. Consulting the tide charts is crucial. Knowing when the tide is going in or out, high or low tide, could make or break the decision to beach your personal watercraft.
For example, if the tide is going out, you do not want your personal watercraft parked too high up the beach.
It could get stuck in the sand, and you will need to wait for the tide to come back in before you can retrieve your Jet Ski.
In contrast, if the tide is coming in, you will want to pull your personal watercraft higher up the sand to keep it from floating away in the rising water. Or use a sand anchor to hold it in place until you’re ready to head back out.
Know the beach where you want to park your personal watercraft. Take care to be sure the sand is soft and not rocky or filled with broken shells.
Knowing the area will also prevent your personal watercraft from becoming mired in mud or muck (source).
How to Beach Your Personal Watercraft
The first step is to make sure you have a clear, unobstructed view of the beach. It is a good idea to get off your personal watercraft and check the beach personally.
The depth of the water is an essential factor, so as you decelerate, make sure your craft floats and is not dragging in the wet sand. Slow down, do not rev the engine,or you will risk damaging your personal watercraft.
Do not shut the engine off until the rear of the hull is in approximately three feet of water. At this point, you will need to disembark and walk your personal watercraft up to the beach.
You do not want to just ride your Jet Ski up onto the beach. Most manufacturers recommend at least three to four feet of water before operating the jet ski.
There are mechanical reasons for this recommendation.
Jet skis use what is called an axial jet pump propulsion system. This system takes water in through a grate located on the bottom of the jet ski.
The propulsion system then shoots the water out at a high velocity. The pumps have powerful suction and will quickly pick up rocks, shells, and other debris.
What Can Go Wrong?
An impeller and wear ring takes water from the pump and shoots the water to move the jet ski. If the jet ski is operated in shallow water or even on the beach, you are risking extensive damage to the pump.
Damage could include a dented impeller, the wear ring could be gouged, and in the case that the pump becomes blocked, the shaft could be bent.
Often the damage can be so extensive it is beyond the scope of repair.
There are a few general “rules” to follow concerning beaching your jet ski.
Be mindful that a jet ski, with the motor turned off, can be pushed in very shallow water, even as little as twelve to eighteen inches. The jet ski should not be pushed manually with a passenger on board. A passenger will cause the hull to go lower in the water.
Jet skis can draft or plane in twelve to eighteen inches of water, but it is not a good practice. Drafting or planing is how the jet ski moves over the water at high speeds (source).
Never idle or start your engine in very shallow water. Damage to your jet ski could be beyond repair. Be aware of water depth when docking or filling the gas tank. Always be sure your jet ski is in three to four feet of water.
If in doubt about the depth, a good rule of thumb is for the water to be waist-deep.
The color of the water is also a good indicator of depth. If it is dark to light blue, it is deeper water. If it is greenish, murky, or brackish colored water it is shallow and also hides damage causing debris. And if mud starts stirring up, shut down the engine quickly.
Manufacturer’s Recommendations on Beaching
Every manufacturer of personal watercraft, including Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Sea-Doo, include a section in their operator’s manual on beaching.
The following recommendations are directly from the Kawasaki, Sea-Doo, and Yamaha Owner’s Manuals.
Sea-Doo: “It is not recommended to run the watercraft to the beach. Drive slowly toward the beach and shut off the engine before the water is less than three feet deep under the lowest portion of the hull. Then pull the watercraft to the beach” (source).
Yamaha provides instructions on beaching a Waverunner. Yamaha does not caution against beaching, however, they do caution against debris damaging the impeller.
“CAUTION: Small pebbles, sand, seaweed, and other debris can be pulled into the jet intake and impair or damage the impeller. Always stop the engine and get off before beaching the watercraft” (source).
Kawasaki: “Avoid beaching the watercraft. Stone and sand can scratch the hull and be drawn into the jet pump, causing damage to the impeller” (source).
Caring for Your Jet Ski After Use
After taking your jet ski out it is important to give it a good cleaning and to perform regular maintance when needed.
Proper Care After Beaching
It makes no difference if you operate your personal watercraft in saltwater, freshwater or a mix.
Maintenance is essential to enjoying your watercraft for many years. Although saltwater and freshwater are vastly different, maintenance is not. Keep in mind that rivers near the ocean can also contain saltwater.
It is imperative to flush fresh water through the water injection port to clean the engine and other interior parts. Every brand has a different flush system.
To flush your jet ski, you will need to have a hose, adaptor, freshwater, and a trailer or cart. Take your jet ski out of the water and load it onto your trailer.
You will want to place the back of your jet ski at a downward angle (lift the bow.) The angle will allow the freshwater to flow freely through the engine and drain out of the back.
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Take one end of your hose, or flush kit (Yamaha here, older SeaDoo models) and attach it to the injection port. The other end will be attached to the freshwater source. Check your owner’s manual to see if you need a flush kit. You can buy them directly from the manufacturer or dealer.
Start your engine, and while it is running, turn the faucet to full strength to achieve a strong flow of water. Perform this step quickly as your jet ski cannot run without water for more than a few seconds.
While the water is flowing through the hose, rev the engine a few times to help pump the water through.
This process should take approximately 2 to 5 minutes. Once the time is up, turn off the water but keep the jet ski running. Rev the engine a couple of times to be sure there is no water left inside.
Along with freshwater flushing, you can add a saltwater dissolver as an added precaution. While not necessary, it is always a good idea to take precautions as saltwater left inside your jet ski will eventually cause damage.
Now that you have thoroughly flushed the inside of your personal watercraft, it is time to give it a thorough rinsing.
Although you flushed the engine, rinsing will help to clear any additional salt or sand. Take extra care not to rinse the electronic components as this could cause a malfunction. Use the low pressure setting on your hose nozzle.
Once you have finished cleaning the engine and other interior parts, you need to clean the outside.
From the hull to the deck and whatever falls in between, including the seat and handlebars. Once rinsed, tilt the hull down to drain the water (source).
Unlike saltwater, freshwater is not corrosive. However, it is still an excellent idea to give your personal watercraft a thorough rinsing (source).
Debris can be pulled into the engine or cooling system, causing potential damage if left to sit.
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Anchoring, an Alternative to Beaching
Beaching your jet ski is one way to take a break and have a rest or swim but can also cause damage to your personal watercraft. Rather than beaching your jet ski, you could consider anchoring it.
Anchoring is not a perfect solution, but if done correctly, it is effective. There are multiple anchor options, and not all anchors will work in every bottom condition.
A fluke style anchor will work well in sand and mud but will not grip into rock while a grapnel style anchor will grip sand, mud, and rock or gravel.
A mushroom style anchor is effective in very calm conditions but will not hold in rough water. Sandbag style anchors, small bags filled with sand or rocks, are another alternative.
Along with anchors, and depending upon where you are anchoring, tethering poles can be screwed into the bottom and attached to your personal watercraft with rope.
Anchors will only work if installed correctly. The anchor must have enough weight and be able to grab the bottom.
The rope called the anchor’s “rode” needs to be the correct length.
Once you choose the place you are going to anchor your jet ski, you will need to secure it properly.
Be sure the rode is taut, and the anchor is directly below your jet ski—plan on having enough rode for a four-to-one ratio between the rode and the depth of the water.
Keep in mind that anchoring your personal watercraft is not always reliable. While having fun, keep a constant eye on your jet ski. You do not want it to slip away. We use this anchor from Amazon for our Sea Doos and paddle boards.
Theft continues to be a problem for all boat owners. You can never take the security of your jet ski too seriously (source). We personally use all of the products in our theft protection guide. Many of them can be taken with you in the ski’s storage compartment.
At home, do not leave your jet ski on the trailer or in the bed of your pick-up truck. That is as good as telling the thief to come and get it.
If possible, garage your jet ski. If garaging is not a possibility, keep it out of sight of the road- behind your car or truck at night. If this is not a feasible option you can purchase a coupler lock like this from Amazon. The coupler covers the hitch, so it cannot be attached to a hitch ball.
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The coupler will not prevent a dedicated thief from cutting it off and taking off with your jet ski. Padlocks are always an option. If you choose a spot out of sight, a padlock on your trailer can prove to be effective.
In place of padlocking your jet ski to a fence, tree, or pole, take an anchor and secure it with concrete into the ground.
You can take this one step further and also padlock the jet ski to the trailer. Taking this additional step will keep the thieves from being able just to lift your personal watercraft off the trailer.
Home is not the only place you need to worry about theft. You must also take precautions while out enjoying your day on the water. When beached and not right near you, it’s the perfect time for thieves to walk or float your jet ski away.
Be sure you take the key or safety lanyard with you. Do not leave it on the jet ski.
Removing the battery cable if you do not have an alarm system prevents anyone from starting the engine. Sea-Doo’s safety lanyard uses a code making theft more difficult.
Remove anything of value such as your anchor, life jackets, or tow rope. Even if the thief can not steal your jet ski, all the additional equipment you carry is still attractive to a criminal.
If you are going to leave your personal watercraft docked overnight, use a strong cable lock. We lock ours to the dock with this waterproof coded lock to avoid losing a key in the water.
We toss the lock in storage compartment when we head out in case we want to leave the ski somewhere else. Grab a half-inch coated braided steel cable, and you’ll defeat most thieves. These can be used at docks, around trees, on trailers and many other places.
What Should I Do if Someone Steals My Jet Ski
You may have taken every precaution available, but your jet ski can still be stolen. In the event it is stolen, the police and insurance company will need as much information as you can provide.
Take a lot of pictures of your personal watercraft. Every angle, corner, the top, the serial number, engine, accessories, anything detachable. Being able to provide pictures will aid in the search and your insurance claim.
Watch sites such as Craig’s List. Criminals use sites such as this one to sell individual parts without alerting law enforcement.
If you see your jet ski or parts for sale, stay safe, and alert the police. Never try to recover your property by yourself.
The thieves may seem innocuous but may also be dangerous. A jet ski is not worth your getting hurt or killed.
Can you Leave Your Personal Watercraft in the Water?
Leaving your personal watercraft in the water is not at all a wise choice. Mother nature will take a drastic toll on your jet ski and not only by corrosion.
Many jet skis are fiberglass. If there is one slight crack, water will get in and cause the fiberglass to expand. This repair would cost you a great deal of money.
Although most lakes have freshwater, they also have vermin. Small animals love the taste of the parts that keep your watercraft floating. We have mice, birds, turtles, squirrels and rats along the banks of our river marina.
All bodies of water have sea life that will enjoy sticking to the bottom of your jet ski, which will slow it up and make it smell. I lost 5 mph top speed when barnacles attached to my Sea-Doo IBR bucket a few years ago.
Be sure to check your skis even when stored at a marina, as you never know what can happen to their equipment. This rented dock took on water, leaving my entire ski’s rear covered in growth.
And even with scrubbing like crazy using a steel brush, using strong cleaning solutions and allowing them to dry out and repeat, I couldn’t get it all off. I had to manually scrape the plate for a couple of hours to get it clean enough to restore performance.
Not only will sea life stick to the bottom of your watercraft, but scum can also invade the engine and cooling system. Once this happens, your jet ski can overheat.
Do not forget about the storms. Storms will cause significant damage to your jet ski. If moored to the dock, your jet ski may incur costly damage from being slammed up against the dock.
Worse still, the moorings could break, and your jet ski could float away crashing into the land, into a neighbor’s dock, or get lost out to sea. Use more than one line. We have a waterproof coated 1/2” steel cable locked to the dock frame with a second mooring line around the float, frame and then attached to the ski.
If you leave your jet ski in the water, it is at risk of theft. The best practice to take your personal watercraft out of the water and secure it with one of the methods described above.
If you do decide to leave your jet ski in freshwater (never saltwater), use a tight-fitting cover. Usually the manufacturer’s cover for your specific model will provide the best fit and stay in place in rain and wind.
Use a marine quality waterproof combination lock, so dropped keys aren’t an issue. Our ABUS locks are 6 years old and get cleaned once per year with WD-40 and a cloth.
Most jet skis have bailer tubes already installed. Their job is to suck out the water. They attach to the pump and come out the bottom of the hull.
The running engine creates a vacuum that sucks the water out. The downside is they only work while the engine is on and the jet ski is moving. A bilge pump is more effective (source).
Maintenance to Support Wear and Tear
Whether you operate your personal watercraft in saltwater, freshwater, or both, your jet ski requires basic maintenance.
Before you do anything consult your Owner’s Manual. The manual is your primary resource specific to the make and model of your jet ski.Read our guide to Fault Codes on Sea-Doo.
You should check the level of all the fluids. Two-stroke engines use an oil-gas fuel, but four-stroke engines have separate spots for oil and fuel.
If you will be storing your jet ski for any length of time, use a fuel stabilizer, so the fuel does not become stale and gummy.
If you did not initially use a fuel stabilizer, do not run the engine until you add a stabilizer and fuel cleaner.
If you left fuel in the engine,you want to drain it out. Never dispose of the fuel yourself. Bring it to an authorized disposal site or have a professional handle draining and disposing of the fuel.
Inspect your jet ski every time you are taking it out. Check the hull for any damage requiring repair before putting your jet ski in the water.
Also, check all the wiring and replace anything old or frayed. If you smell gas, check the fuel tank. You do not want a fuel leak when you start your engine.
Thorough cleaning after each use will prevent corrosion and keep your jet ski looking like new.
Use a lift or place it on a trailer to make cleaning easier (source).
If you only operate your jet ski in freshwater, only basic maintenance is needed. If you happen to leave it in the water for too long, a thorough cleaning will be required.
When you take your jet ski out of storage and begin to get it ready for the season, take your time.
Spring is your chance to look your jet ski over with a fine-tooth comb. While it is dry is a great time to replace parts and protect the engine by spraying it with silicone to prevent corrosion.
So do not stop at just the engine, coat all metal parts of your jet ski.
Wash and wax your jet ski to protect the finish from the elements. You can also protect the vinyl seat by using a special protectant.
Be careful to use one suggested by the manufacturer. You do not want to slide off the seat while on the water.
If the battery or other electrical components appear dirty or corroded, clean them with a wire brush and a paste made from baking soda and water.
Once clean, apply dielectric grease to protect the parts from becoming corroded during the season. It is crucial to use dielectric grease as it is non-conductive and, therefore, safe.
Before you take your jet ski out in the water, use a flush kit or hose and flush the engine out.
Flushing will remove any fogging oil leftover from winterizing. You will be able to fix any issues, so your first day on the water will be fun and not frustrating (source).
The first thing you will need to do is drain your jet ski using the same procedure as when flushing.
Prepare a mix of RV antifreeze and water using a one to one ratio in a five-gallon bucket.
Flush the mixture through the exhaust system until the bucket is empty. The antifreeze mixture will prevent any water left in the exhaust over the winter from freezing.
Wash your jet ski, rinse thoroughly, and dry completely. Put a fuel stabilizer in the gas tank along with any gas left in the tank. Now you will need to put in fuel until the tank is full.
Apply a lubricant to any moving parts such as the brake mechanism. Also, lubricate the engine and electrical components.
Now it is time to store your watercraft. Remove the battery and attach it to a charger keeping it away from any flammable materials.
The battery must be stored where the temperature will remain above freezing. Next, put your watercraft where you will be keeping it for the winter and put the cover on (source).
Jet skis are a lot of fun and can bring families and friends together. By keeping up with seasonal and basic maintenance, your personal watercraft will give you many hours and years of enjoyment.
While beaching looks cool, it has to be done carefully or risk damage. If beaching is not possible, there are alternative anchoring methods.
After all, you can not ride your jet ski all day without taking breaks. Follow all manufacturer recommendations and enjoy your jet ski.