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Solution to Sucking up Stuff into your Watercraft

One of the great benefits of a Jet Ski or Jet Boat is that they have no exposed props which help to alleviate the worry about hitting something and damaging an outdrive. Also, you don’t have to worry about a spinning prop that could seriously hurt someone.

The Bad news with Jet Drives is that they are super powerful vacuums that will suck up anything in its path. It could be sand, rocks, sticks, bark, sandals, snakes, shells, or whatever is in the water.

Just like a Jet engine, the pump on your watercraft has very fine tolerances to be able to work fine. When something gets sucked into the intake it doesn’t have very much room to go and usually gets stuck in the impeller and housing.

So what do you do when you suck up something in your Jet Ski?

First Things First

Shut the engine off. DON’T FLIP THE JET SKI!!! Try to shake the machine side to side to see if the material gets un-stuck. If nothing comes out then you’ll need to get it to land or a lift.

DON’T START TAKING THINGS OFF UNDER THE WATERCRAFT!!!

Yes, there is an intake 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. The best thing to do is take it to your dealer (This is not covered under warranty)!

The most common thing to get sucked up is Rope or Dock Line. You can lower the chances of sucking up ropes by using a 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. 

Don’t Put It In Reverse

Putting the Jet Ski in reverse will do nothing because the watercraft has no transmission. When you put the jet ski 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 than good. You need to get it back to land, the best thing to do is use a Paddle (Amazon Link Ad). This is one of the reasons why I carry that $hundred-something a year tow package from my local SeaTow.

How Much Is It Going To Cost Me

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

The answer to this can vary depending on what some places charge for labor. If it’s a Sea-Doo then the good news is that you have a wear ring to help protect your pump. If it’s a Yamaha or Kawasaki then your damage could vary depending on what was sucked in it because they lack a Wear Ring (Amazon Link Ad) like Sea-doos have.

If it’s a Seadoo then it might cost anywhere from about a hundred up to about a few hundred depending on what Wear Ring is needed and the Labor cost. Also if the Impeller is damage then it will add a few hundred extras but these factors depend on the damage done and are best to call your local dealer first to see what the price might be. If it’s not a Seadoo then the actual housing could be damaged and they’re not cheap, but you won’t know fully until you take it to a dealer or a trained technician. These numbers are very rough because no one can predict what could be sucked up and what kind of damage it could do.

How you’ll know if the Wear Ring is damage is when you go to take off and the watercraft feels like it has all the power in the world but just doesn’t want to go. 

Could They not Place a Screen Mesh in Front of the Intake???

You’re probably asking yourself why has no one placed a screen in front of the intake on a Jet Ski? The Screen would block debris from getting in and you’ll never have to worry about sucking anything up.

Great idea right? 

Nope.

The more stuff you put in front of the intake of a Jet Ski the harder the engine will have to work because now it has something blocking it. Even the slightest of mesh will dramatically slow down the machine. In fact, your watercraft has an intake grate to block any big stuff but it’s not perfect and the intake grate on it now is the best balance for protection and speed for your watercraft.

Also, the mesh in front of the drive would not be able to handle the amount of power that a watercraft makes. Another reason why the mesh idea won’t work is that it won’t handle the force and it could be sucked in itself and do a lot more damage than any rock could.

must have accessories

What Can You Do To Keep From Sucking Up More Stuff?

  • If you keep sucking up tow rope then you need to pick up a shock tube (Amazon Link Ad). 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, or waist deep. 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.
  • When beaching always turn the engine off before you touch land.
  • When unloading from a trailer 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 revving the engine at full power in reverse could help find the flip-flop to your intake. Also, you should never be using the throttle in a no-wake area or loading ramp area, everything should be done at idle speed.
  • Watch out for Shoals and be extra careful when the water levels get low.
  • Avoid going out for a ride after a really bad storm. This is when sticks break free from trees and go for a float in the water. The sticks are the worse as some can float just below the surface of the water.

13 thoughts on “Solution to Sucking up Stuff into your Watercraft”

    • 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.

      Reply
  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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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?

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply

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