As a new PWC owner, you want to learn about and explore your regional waterways. Sometimes it’s a short ride, other times it is a full day out on the water. Starting early in the morning means smoother water and less boat traffic. You have the full day stretched out in front of you to have fun riding your PWC with your friends. To prepare for this, I have a few suggestions that will make your ride fun and problem free.
First, you want to bring your friends on that ride, preferably one or two people or a small group. Keeping the group small means fuel stops are shorter and there are fewer people to keep track of and less chance of problems arising on the water. Ensure that everyone knows what’s expected from them for the day out, and what they need to have on board, to make their day as much fun as possible.
Know the opening hours of the marina you’re launching from. Check with the staff when they close and take their contact information with you. It can happen that you return after closing hours, and you may be able to make arrangements to access the premises after hours. Some marinas lock the front gates at the end of the day and you don’t want to be surprised.
Everyone should have the basic safety equipment on board, as well as a few extra tools to get someone out of a jam. Understand hand signals and the use of other communication tools you plan to use on your ride.
Have your trip route mapped and make sure that everyone has it on their GPS. GPS units have become common on PWCs and can range from an App on your smartphone to a permanently mounted and wired unit on the PWC. Make note of rocky or shallow areas on the charts. Look for symbols designating hazards, sunken wrecks, marine sanctuaries and so on. Research good places to stop along the route.
Know how long your PWC can run on a tank of fuel. Ensure that you plan fuel stops or carry fuel with you. Many marinas only carry regular grade, so if your PWC takes premium, as supercharged machines do, you may need to carry your own fuel. If your full day ride is in a more remote area, it is best to take fuel with you. There are fuel carriers made for PWC or you can strap a can to the rear deck for your ride.
Create a float plan and leave it with a trusted person. If you or another member of the group do not return home at the appointed time, they’ll have information to use to search for you. The key with this is that you must contact your person if you later realize you will be out later than expected. You don’t want a search party looking for you if everything is okay. The float plan is for emergency situations where you are unable to contact anyone with your location. It gives you a better chance of being found and rescued.
Plan for a PWC failure. Who can tow, who will carry the extra passenger? Ensure that your phone is fully charged. Many of us have lots of apps that run in the background siphoning power from the battery. Many apps will continue to search for an internet link where there may be none. Turn off any apps that you are not using to lengthen your battery life while you’re enjoying your day out on your PWC. Some people also hook up a USB charging plug to their PWC battery or bring an extra USB power pack for their smartphone.
If you’re launching your PWC early in the morning, it could be much cooler than later in the day. Dress in layers that are easy to remove as the day warms up while you’re riding. Have a dry bag that you can keep your extra layers in so if it cools down before you get back to the launch you have dry layers to put back on. Being cold on your PWC ride makes for unhappy riders – and unhappy riders can make poor decisions.
Bring bottled water or other hydrating beverages containing electrolytes such as Gatorade or fruit juices. With being out on the water all day exploring on your PWC, it’s easy to forget to drink enough. Reach for that bottle every time you stop for a break.
Either plan to stop at a waterside restaurant or pack a lunch and some snacks for the trip. Foods that can easily be held in your hand are best for PWC day tripping. If you have a small lunch cooler bag with an ice pack, that is ideal for keeping foods cool and protected in your front storage. Wraps with meat and cheese, chopped veggies, fruits such as grapes, apples, pears and granola bars or a pack of mixed nuts, are all good choices to carry in your cooler bag on your PWC. These foods are nutritious and keep your energy levels consistent throughout the day. When I’m not carrying a cooler bag, I carry a few granola bars in my ski for those moments that hunger hits me. It’s a quick and easy way to refuel yourself. I avoid carrying foods that will melt such as chocolate. Carry a baggie to hold anything you discard until you return to your starting point and are able to properly dispose of it.
Saving the best for last, bring your sense of adventure and an open mind. Exploring new areas can be exciting and often nature will reveal something new to you. The multitude of Ontario waterways that you can explore on your PWC have so many different landscapes that are awe inspiring. They make for some great photos and stories to tell for years to come.