15 Mistakes Beginner Jet Ski Owners Make

If you’re just dipping your toes into the exciting world of watercraft (PWC) and feeling a bit lost, you’re in good hands! I’ve put together a handy list of common mishaps that new PWC owners often make. By the time you’re done with this guide, you’ll be well on your way to navigating the waves like a pro. And hey, once you’ve soaked up all this valuable knowledge, don’t hesitate to dive deeper into this site. I’ve got a treasure trove of information waiting for you, covering everything you need to know about PWC. So, let’s get started on this PWC journey together!

1. Sucking Stuff Up

Sucking up rope, rocks, sticks, and even maps are very common for new riders.

Sucked up something in pump wear ring

I’ve seen people who just pick up their new PWC and take it right to the water and start it below 3 feet of water and suck up so much sand and rocks that it shuts the engine off. That is a great way to ruin the weekend, and they had to bring the craft back to get it fixed. This happens more than you think, and it’s not a matter of “if” you’ll suck something up, but “when.” It’s best to start the watercraft in at least 3 feet of water. Use an impeller protector (Amazon Link Ad) to keep tow-ropes away from the pump. And above all else, be more aware of your surroundings and the depth of the water.

Keep in mind, you’re riding a giant vacuum that has more horsepower than most people’s cars. 

2. Not Being Respectful

“Don’t be that guy.”

You know the guy, the one who goes full speed through the no-wake zones and blasts by people’s docks. When you launch your watercraft, leave a marina, or leave someone’s dock, there is usually a no-wake zone where you must idle out of it. There are several reasons for a no-wake zone; the biggest one is for safety.

You’re in near other boats and docks and for your safety and everyone else’s you must go slow. Also, the no-wake zone is to stop wakes which make it hard to load or unload your boat. 

3. Getting Something Too Powerful

Let me be the first one to tell you that if you have never ridden a watercraft before, then any watercraft you get, even the base model ones, will feel fast. Even if you have ridden ATVs or motorcycles before, riding a watercraft is different. 

If you’re new, stick to non-supercharged models, so you can get a good idea of what you’re getting yourself into. I’ve had people get a new watercraft, and they’re always blown away by how fast jet skis go. Some people never go past 30 MPH, which seems slow, but that 30 MPH on a watercraft feels like 70 MPH in a car. That is because you don’t have a helmet or protective roll cage around you, so everything comes at you faster. 

4. Not Learning Their Machines

Don’t buy a watercraft and not spend any time learning how to use it. It’s NOT like driving a car or ATV or Motorcycle. You should learn all the basics before you ever get on the watercraft, like the brake and how to throttle at low speed. If your PWC has iBR or RIDE, then it’s important you learn how those work. Those are your brakes and learning how they function is very important too. 

You need to understand what each of your keys and modes of your watercraft do. All the information you’ll need to know about your watercraft will be in the owner’s manual. If you have a Sea-Doo, then I do have a video about how to drive a Sea-Doo here.

For the complete guide on how to drive, check out my post here.

5. Keep Your Distance

Not only should you keep your distance from docks and no-wake zones, but you should also keep a distance from others you ride with. If you’re riding too close to someone, and they decide to change directions, you both could crash into each other. Always be aware of your surroundings and keep a safe distance from each other. Water police will even pull you over if they see 2 jet-skis riding way too close to each other. 

6. Forgetting Your Boating License

Most states are forcing a boating license on most boaters, no matter the age, and for good reason. There are rules of the water you must follow and understand. PWCs need a boating license to drive in most places. The test is not hard and most states allow you to do it all online. You also must keep in mind that a license from one state won’t work in all states.

7. Not Having The Correct Gear

I have a post here where I cover all the must have accessories. Don’t forget to get things like sunscreen and wear protective gear like a life jacket. 

I also have a post on what shoes to wear, the proper footwear is more important than most people realize.

8. Not Securing Your PWC

Thieves love watercraft, but only if they’re easy to take. Some people never lock their crafts down, and some are even crazy enough to leave the keys in the glove box. I go into great details here about how to lock down your machine

9. Not Having A Phone

I know this one can sound crazy, but if you get lost, hurt, or need to see where the other riders are, a smartphone can help with that.

10. Not Covering It

So many people don’t cover their jet skis when they’re not using them. The Sun will fade fiberglass quickly and dry out the seats so much so that they can tear. If you want your waverunner to look good for years, then you got to cover it. I go a step further for winter storage and keep a cover on my cover. If you have questions about covers, then I have a guide here that will help. 

11. Not Keeping Batteries Charged

If you don’t ride your watercraft or even your car for months, then the battery will go flat. The best way to keep the battery from dying is to use a battery charger. I think the best charger is a solar battery charger like this one here, (Amazon Link Ad) since it will hold up better and is easier to deal with compared to a wall charger. If all you got is a wall charger, then use that. 

I have many more ideas about keeping your jet ski battery charged here.

12. Not Servicing Your watercraft Or Trailer

Some people will never service their skis. That’s just crazy to me. Your jet ski should have a service done every year, and if you live where it gets cold, then you also should winterize it too. 

Don’t wait until you get to some number of hours, especially for your first service. If it’s been one year, then you need to get the oil changed and a complete service. Oil does expire and becomes less effective the older it gets. Your trailer also needs to be serviced too. The wheel bearings need to be greased once a year, straps inspected, and checked for other damages.

13. Doing The Repairs Yourself

A watercraft is different from a car, but not too different. If you never worked on anything like a waverunner or a car, then leave it to the professionals. I’ve had people try to get to their jet pump from the inside of the hull of the watercraft, which you can’t do. They end up with so many parts taken out that should have never been touched. If you do take it to the repair shop, bring your key with you. There is no master key. 

14. Forgetting Your Registration Numbers

Just like how cars have license plates, jet skis have registration numbers. It’s up to you to put them on, and if you don’t, you’ll be more than likely to get pulled over. If you have just bought a new PWC, you might not have those numbers just yet, and often you’ll need to carry a bill of sale or a proof of purchase. Don’t get mailbox numbers, not only do they look bad, but they don’t last as long as the numbers made to stick on jet skis. If you have a Sea-Doo Spark, then check out this accessory guide here to see what numbers to get for the plastic body.

15. Forgetting The Drain Plugs

Every watercraft has a drain plug or two and if you forget to put it in the unit will sink. I know on some models it can be confusing, as the flushing port looks like a drain plug, but I have a post that covers all the details here.



I started working at a power sports dealership in 2007, I worked in parts, service counter, and as a technician before moving to sales in 2013. I created in 2014 to answer common watercraft questions I would get from people. Now managing the site full-time, I continue to provide advice and web tools for my readers about watercraft. I've owned several watercraft, with a Sea-Doo Spark as my current main PWC.

3 thoughts on “15 Mistakes Beginner Jet Ski Owners Make”

  1. Hello. Thanks for the website! I have ‘07 Yamaha fxho, Do you suggest using fuel stabilizer (Stabil) , if so, use if all the time or just in off season during storage? Also do you leave the gas tank full or empty in off season. I’ve read online where people do both, so not sure how to prepare for off season storage. Thanks in advance!!

  2. I keep a NOCO battery booster with me when I ride….actually in all my vehicles. Haven’t had to use it for myself, but I’ve boosted a handful of other stranded people.


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