The Steps to Take When Your Jet Ski Sucks Up Debris Or Rope

First things first, SHUT the engine OFF!


Try to shake the jet ski side to side to see if the material gets unstuck. If nothing comes out, then you’ll need to get it to land.


Yes, there is an intake grate under the watercraft that will allow you access to the pump to remove debris, but the bolts are most likely through-bolted and one wrong move could do more damage than good.

So I suggest you don’t remove the intake grate to remove the rope. This video shows you why you don’t want to remove the intake grate.

I find it’s easier to remove the whole pump from the rear with the watercraft out of the water than to remove the intake grate, but it’s best to let your dealership do it (This is NOT covered under warranty)!

What’s the most common thing people suck up? I tend to see rope and dock line get sucked up the most.

You can lower the chances of sucking up ropes by using an Impeller Protector like this one here (Amazon Link Ad).

The second most common is rocks. How on earth can someone suck up rocks? They don’t float?! You must keep in mind that your watercraft is a super powerful vacuum and the water level only needs to be a few feet deep before it will suck up anything in its path, even heavy rocks. 

How To Remove Rope From Pump

Ideally, you should let a professional mess with the pump of your watercraft!

And as talked about earlier, you don’t want to remove the intake grate as it can go bad fast. I’ve also seen people start to remove things from the inside the engine compartment thinking it would lead them to the pump, this is not true, everything is on the outside rear of the PWC for the pump.

If you’re experienced with tools and want to try removing the debris and replacing the wear ring / impeller, this video below will show you how.

Can You Reverse It To Loosen It?

Putting the jet ski in reverse will do nothing because the watercraft has no transmission.

When you put the PWC in reverse, all you’re doing is dropping a bucket to redirect the thrust. If anything, you’ll be doing more damage this way.

Avoid Revving The Engine

Giving your watercraft gas in hopes to dislodge whatever is stuck in the pump can actually do more damage!

You need to get it back to land, the best thing to do is use a paddle.

You can also get a local boat towing membership for situations like this. You may not always need it, but if you do, you’ll be grateful you got the membership.

Repair Costs?

Sucked up something in pump wear ring
Jet pump sucked up a map. The Wear Ring is the blue ring around the impeller.

I’ve seen the cost to repair range anywhere from $100 all the way up to $1,000’s depending on what is damaged.

Ropes tend to do the least damage and just need to be cut out. Unless it’s an old 2-stroke, as they had thinner drive shafts and would often get bent.

Rocks and other hard objects will do a lot of damage and need to replace the wear ring and often the impeller too.

Can you do it yourself? Depending on the jet ski, you can often repair it yourself, especially if it’s only a rope that is stuck around the driveshaft. But, I’ve had a few that were so stuck you had to remove the pump out to get it loose.

The good news is, if you have a Sea-Doo they use a plastic wear ring which is cheaper and easier to replace than other manufacturers. But it is weaker than the metal ones, but you can replace the plastic ones with metal, so it’s a trade-off, though the modern plastics they use now are impressive.

TIP: You’ll know the wear ring is damaged when you give it gas, and it feels like it’s slipping or taking forever to catch and go.

Tips To Keep From Sucking Things Up

  • If you keep ingesting tow-ropes, then you need to pick up a shock tube. A shock tube will help keep the tow-rope away from the impeller.
  • Never start the watercraft in no less than 3 feet of water. I sometimes go a step further and will kick off from the waist-deep water to even further myself from land. Also, try rocking the craft left to right to remove any debris before starting the engine.
  • While beaching, always turn the engine off before you touch land.
  • While unloading from a trailer, I suggest you never force the jet ski off by revving the engine. You never know the guy before you may have dropped a flip-flop, and you’re revving the engine at full power in reverse could help find the flip-flop to your intake. Also, you should never use the throttle in a no-wake area, everything should be done at idle speed.
  • Watch out for shoals and be extra careful if the water levels get low.
  • Avoid going out for a ride after a horrible storm. This is the time for sticks to break free from trees and go for a float in the water. The sticks are the worst, as some can float just below the surface of the water.



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.


    • Make sure you’re in Sport mode, hold down the red button at the gauge until it beeps, and then press it again to confirm. The Spark is a lot faster at take-off when in Sport mode.

  1. Thanks for this article very helpful. I have a 2007 230 challenger Sea Doo jet boat and one of the motors starts the other crank but wont start. I went to look over the intake and there is a fishing line stock in the tube, I removed most of them but there is sill some that I don’t have access to removed, will this be the reason the motor wont start? Or you think it’s something else?

    • Yes, the Sea-Doo 230 Challenger Jet Boat was a direct drive system just like the jet skis so anything in the pump will keep it from starting. Even the smallest of things can get a wedge and keep the engine from starting.

  2. Sea Doo Spark Trixx – friend borrowed jet ski for first time and he had it turned on next to shore and sucked up gravel and were able to take out a large rock in the impeller but spark won’t go more than 3-mph per hour and just towed it to shore. Idea why that is?

  3. Hi i saw a seadoo 2004 gti le for sale the price is $600 obo but the problem is won’t start. He says push the bottom and it just goes clunk one time motor won’t spin. I’d recommend to buy?

    • I wouldn’t buy any 2-strokes if it was me due to the lack of parts. But it sounds like a bad starter relay or even a bad starter motor. It could also be hydro locked or something stuck in the impeller but less likely than the other.

  4. Where I launch, there is a patch of just awful seaweed/grass/something awful that looks like an underwater Christmas tree in the channel just as the channel goes under the bridge out into the main river. No choice but to go through it. Any product out there that’s temp/removable to “wear” for that few hundred feet? Getting out and pulling the seaweed out is super gross in the channel (it’s mucky) but I’m sucking so much of this stuff up I can’t get back to dock! Right now I’m using a collapsible kayak paddle (which looks ridiculous) and looking for a better solution.

  5. Just put my new GTX 230 in the water and sucked up a rock at the boat launch. Could not believe that I caught a rock that easily, so I did not shut down right away. Waiting for my new wear ring and impeller to be installed now. Ugh!

  6. Our grandaughter took my 2003 Seadoo GTX Super charged out, she got into shallow water and sucked up a rock, she was towed back in and got it back on the lift, We were told to remove the plate where the impeller is located and turn the impeller counter clock wise. My husband tried to turn the impeller and it won’t budge, how much pressure can he put on the impeller to turn it? Thank you.

    • Never take off the intake grate and never try to spin the impeller by hand. The proper way to remove rocks is to take off the pump in the rear and since you sucked up rocks I’m sure the wear ring and impeller are damaged and both need to have a repair shop look at them.


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