Jet skis have become a lot more popular and them being so fun during the day it’s got many asking if they can drive them at night.
I’ve seen far too many people attempt to modify their PWC to drive at night to only be hit with a fine or get hurt.
There is no winning this battle; you cannot drive a jet ski at night. Let me go over why it’s not allowed and why it’s best you avoid driving after sunset.
You Can’t Ride After Sunset
You cannot ride a jet ski at night, even if you have navigation lights in most states and countries.
There are a few places that allow it or ignore it, but overall, it’s too dangerous to ride at night.
You can operate between sunrise and sunset. This means when the sun is gone, you cannot drive.
I would even give yourself some leeway of 30 minutes to be on the safe side. If sunset is at 8:30 pm, I would be off the water by 8:00 pm.
You Can’t Add Navigation Lights
I’ve seen people put navigation lights on their PWC, so they can use them at night.
But every single one of them ends up getting them removed because the water patrol fines them.
Putting navigation lights on your jet ski doesn’t make it legal. They cannot be driven at night. Even the few that have headlights are not meant for navigation, it’s more for looks than a feature.
Why Can’t PWCs Be Driven At Night?
1. Too Small
Due to the small size of jet skis, they’re harder to see at night and adding navigation lights can confuse other boats even more, especially at a distance.
It’s not just the length, but the width of jet skis are smaller than similarly sized boats.
2. Quick Movements
A PWC can move fast and quickly change directions, which further confuses other boaters at night.
They’re already hard to see during the day and impossible to see at night.
3. They Go Too Fast
During the night, you’re supposed to go slow.
The problem is that many jet skiers don’t go slow, even when it’s pitched black at night.
You go slow because you can’t see things like floating logs, rocks, shallow areas and other items that could be in the way. It’s already difficult to see these things during the day, and impossible at night.
Which leads us to the next point…
4. Jet Skiers Are More Reckless
Combined with the fact that even during the day people do silly things they shouldn’t do, we can safely assume they’ll do it during the night too.
At night, these silly things are much worse and can make it harder to help someone.
5. No Reflectors
Life jackets don’t have any reflectors on them, so if you fall off, no one can see you in the water.
Even if they did have reflectors, most of the jacket is underwater and they still won’t see them.
Falling off PWCs is something that happens often, which is another reason you can’t drive at night.
6. No visual Cues At Night
Many jet skis have visual cues to help other boaters see them during the day.
The problem is that the cues are not visible at night.
One example is the rooster tail. Another one is bright colors on the jet ski or life jacket; this is why you see so many bright colors in the industry.
What If I Get Trapped At Night?
If you get trapped on your jet ski after dark, you need to seek the nearest boat launch or land.
Watercraft don’t have lights, no one can see you, so getting to land is important.
If you have a boat towing membership, give them a call and let them tow you back. They have the lights to get you back home safely. If you have kids who are bad about this, then a boat towing membership is handy.
You can also call a friend or family member with a boat to tow you back home.
The good news is that most people on jet skis have smartphones. With the smartphone, you can call someone, locate the nearest place to dock, or signal for help.
Some SOS apps turn your phone’s screen into a help light. Please keep in mind your whistle that should be on your jet ski.
DJ Khaled got stuck after dark on a jet ski, and you can see how confusing it can be.
What PWCs Are Allowed To Drive At Night?
There do exist a few jet skis that can operate at night, but the average customer can’t buy them.
These jet skis are used by search and rescue teams.
Sea-Doo has the SAR, and it has navigation lights for running at night. This PWC is also much larger, slower, and sturdier than your normal jet ski. It’s almost twice the cost of a typical jet ski too!
Sometimes a jet ski is needed in rescue missions, and sometimes these missions happen at night.
While the average customer can’t have one with navigation lights, it doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist for law and governments.