Having a watercraft full of water is a big problem to have. Even worse if it’s full of salty beach water.
So what do you do when you get water in your jet ski?
Getting water in your jet ski can happen from a bad storm taking it away and damaging it. Or you could have forgotten to put the drain plugs in. Or even worse you could have flipped it so that you can get something out of the pump.
Let me start off with this… DON’T FLIP THE WATERCRAFT FOR ANY REASON. If you sucked up a rope, whatever you do not flip the watercraft over. When you flip it this allows water to come in and it will find its way to the engine and hydrolock it. Just don’t flip it!
Call your local dealership or watercraft repair place to see what you should do first!
The Break Down
- If full of water don’t start the engine.
- Get it to land.
- While you wait to be towed in remove water the best you can. Avoid touching the engine it might be hot.
- Once on land remove drain plugs to get water out of hull. Don’t start the engine. Don’t even put the key on it.
- Get to a dealership or watercraft mechanic immediately.
- If you have insurance call the insurance company to see what they can do.
- Wait to hear back from the Tech’s to see the damage.
First Things First
What you want to do first is get the jet ski back to land. If it’s taking on water or has water in it then really you need to get it far away from water.
The good news is if you’re sinking is that most modern watercraft will not sink 100%. If you look inside of them you’ll see foam and that’s place there to keep the watercraft from going to the bottom. The bad news is that the nose of the watercraft will be the only part that will float, the other 98% of the craft will be underwater.
So hook to the bow hook in the front and tow the watercraft to land or a trailer. Be careful when doing this, no need to panic and get hurt – the damage has been done.
If the jet ski is underwater or has water covering most of the engine then DO NOT START IT!
Don’t risk trying to start the engine if the engine is covered in water. Trying to start the engine when it’s hydro-locked can result in bending a tie-rod or doing more damage that could cause the engine to be useless and destroyed. It’s best to get it to a dealership or someone who knows how to get water out of the engine.
While you wait to get to land or for a tow, try to get the water out of the craft. I recommend buying storage containers or safety kits (Amazon Link Ad) since they also double as a bailing cup. If you have something fancy like a water pump (Amazon Link Ad) then use that. If not then just use a regular cup. Avoid touching the engine if it’s been running, it could be hot!
Once On Land
When you get the craft back to land and on a trailer, you’ll want to take the drain plugs out. You want to drain as much water out of it as it is waterlogged.
Once again do not start the engine. I’ve had someone pull their drain plugs out on land and try to start their engine thinking that would get the water out faster – it doesn’t – it just makes it worse.
At this point, it’s best to get it to a dealership or someone who knows how to get water out of a jet ski engine.
Not Much Water
What if the watercraft didn’t take on much water? I still recommend letting a pro look at it. But to see if the engine has water in it then remove the dipstick.
If the oil has water in it then it will look like a caramel color smoothie. This mix will be a lot more liquid than oil and may even drip all over the place when you remove the dipstick. If you see this caramel or light brown/tan-looking stuff coming from your dipstick then that’s bad and get it to a dealership quick.
If the oil looks like oil then you might be fine, but still, consult with your local dealer to see what to do.
If your watercraft took on saltwater then you need to rush that bad boy to the dealership or mechanics as quick as possible. Saltwater corrodes metals and every hour you have that stuff in your engine the worse it becomes.
Many boat engines don’t come back after they have taken on saltwater, that is how bad salt water is.
It’s actually quite interesting that many boat engine manufactures even use salt water to cool and engine since it is very corrosive. Some craft like Seadoo uses a closed-loop cooling system that doesn’t take in any water to cool the engine. I go into more detail about closed vs open loop cooling here.
Taking on Salt Water = Get the water out as soon as possible!
Also, don’t start the engine if you have water in the engine. I’m really hammering that point in.
Taking On Water Due To Engine
If you’re taking on water from the engine running and not due to sinking from a hole or drain plugs then shut the engine off. Call to get towed in.
The reason why you’re sinking from the engine running is due to a leak in a water hose and running the engine will make you sink faster if that’s the case.
In times like these, it’s best to have a folding paddle (Amazon Link Ad).
How Do You Get It Back To Land?
You need to tow the watercraft back to land. If you don’t have another jet ski or boat then you’ll need something like SeaTow.
If you don’t have a SeaTow membership then you need to get one. If SeaTow is not offered around then there are others like them that can help you, visit your local marine shop and they can help you.
Usually, the membership fee is less than paying them whatever they charge to get towed in, so get the membership. If not then just write their phone number down in case you need them to tow you in. Sometimes they even offer help to their members who do have a sunken vessel and make it less painful.
What To Expect?
So you got your jet ski to land and now have it at a good dealership or repair place. So what can you expect to happen?
If you took my advice and never started the engine and it’s not saltwater then everything should be fine. So relax.
If you did start the engine, then hope nothing got damaged.
If you did take on saltwater and got it to the repair place and they got the water out in a day or two then don’t worry too much. Just wait for them to give you a better idea of the condition.
So now it’s up to the repair place to go to work, and I’m sure they have seen this happen before so relax now.
Water and oil don’t mix, so you got to get the water out of the engine. This is not easy. There is no special device that can separate the oil from the water. So what they do is remove the spark plugs and the air intake manifold and many other parts that might hold water and get that out. Then they do an oil change to get the oil and water mix out.
The bad news is that it can be costly. There is a lot of places for water to hide in the engine and it needs to get out. They’ll probably do quite a bit of oil changes to make sure the engine is clear of the water in the oil.
They’ll also need to check the electrical system to make sure they’re fine and did not get affected by water. Water and electricity don’t mix. It’s also best to get the battery replaced even if it seems fine. You can find good batteries at your local dealership, ask what size you need from your local dealer to make sure you get the correct one.
If you have insurance, which you should, then it would be best to give them a call to see what they can do in your current situation. This is sometimes covered by insurance, but not all the time. It really depends on your situation and what insurance you have.
Will It Ride The Same?
If you take in lake water and don’t do any damage then the watercraft should be fine.
If my watercraft took on freshwater I would still ride it and not worry about it. If you take it to the right people who have seen this before then you really don’t have much to worry about.
These things happen.
Try to get past it and ride the watercraft when you get it back.
Will you have a hard time re-selling it if you do sell it?
Probably not. It’s best to say that the watercraft took on water and was repaired before selling it – it’s the right thing to do. One way to tell if the watercraft took on water is that the seats will be very heavy due to having water in them which means it was sunk.