What To Do When You Suck Up Rope Into Your Jet Ski

What do you do when you’ve sucked up a rope into your jet ski? You’ll be surprised how common this happens, it’s more common than getting a nail in your tire.

First Thing To Do

The first thing you should do is turn the engine off, but most of the time the engine shuts off due to the rope being wrapped around it.

Don’t Flip It

Whatever you do – DO NOT FLIP THE JET SKI OVER!

If you’re in the water and think that flipping the jet ski over will allow you to get access to the intake, you’ll be right, but you’ll end up doing more damage this way.

Flipping it over for an extended period of time will allow water to get into the engine compartment and then into the engine. Water in the engine is more severe than sucking up a rope.

Get To Land

Get the jet ski back to a trailer or a stand. There is just no good way to get the rope out of the pump while in the water.

How To Get Rope Out

  1. Make sure the engine is off and disconnect the battery.
  2. Have the jet ski on a stand or trailer and away from the water. Make sure to block off the wheels, so it doesn’t roll away.
  3. Look under the watercraft at the intake grate. Make sure you have a flashlight with you as it can be dark.
  4. Inspect the damage. Try pulling on the rope to see if it comes loose.
  5. If the rope doesn’t want to come loose, you’ll need to cut it out. A long handle razor knife works best, or a scraper*. It may take a while since the engine on watercraft are powerful and the rope might be wound tight.
  6. Advanced: If you can’t cut the rope off the drive shaft, then the pump needs to come off. If you have never taken the pump off before, then it’s time to take it to the repair shop. If you take the pump off, the rope should be easy to get off the drive shaft now.

Here’s a video showing you how to remove the rope from your jet ski. In the video they remove the intake grate, I don’t recommend doing this.

Avoid Doing This!

  • Don’t try to remove the intake grate (the metal piece that is in front of the intake). I know it would seem easier to remove the intake grate, but many of them are through bolted and the bolt is often located under the engine, making it almost impossible to get to. Plus, not reapplying the correct sealant on the intake grate bolts can cause it to sink. It’s not worth the trouble.
  • Everything you need to get to is on the outside of the watercraft. Don’t start to take apart things on the inside, as you can NOT get to the pump from the inside.
  • Don’t try to fire up the engine again and try to put it in reverse. Reversing will not do anything and will make things worse for you. Jet skis don’t have transmissions and are direct drive, so if the engine is on it does not matter if you’re in forward or reverse as it still spins in one direction.

Plan B

If you can’t get the rope out, then you have to take it to your nearest dealer.

Sucking up a rope is like getting a nail in your tire, and it’s not covered under warranty. You might have to take the watercraft in any way if damages were done to the watercraft because of the tow-rope.

Tip To Keep From Sucking Up Ropes

You got to keep in mind that your jet ski is a very powerful vacuum and when the engine is on it’s going to suck whatever is near the intake into it.

A little hack I’ve learned is to buy a pool noodle or a shock tube like this one here* to keep from sucking up ropes.

The pool noodle is hollow and allows you to thread the rope through and extends the rope far beyond the reach of the intake. Also, the pool noodles floats, which helps to keep it away even more.

6 thoughts on “What To Do When You Suck Up Rope Into Your Jet Ski”

    • It sounds like something is keeping the reverse gate from moving. Sucking up rope won’t affect the reverse bucket but it is possible a rock or something got wedge. The driveshaft, the rope gets wrapped around, is not related to the forward, neutral, or reverse. I have a post that describes that here.

  1. Totally just sucked up the anchor while In Reverse. Immediately trailered the jet ski, cut the anchor free from the drivetrain and was able to clear the drivetrain. We put it back in the water and have it running. So glad we did NOT flip it in the water. Very helpful! Thank you!

  2. Hi Steven,
    First of all many thanks for this great website! I is a wealth of INFO 🙂
    How do you anchor pool noodle to the tow line? It seems to get pushed down the line as the water fiction catches it.

  3. I’m in the market for my first pwc and I like to do my homework prior to sitting down with a salesperson !! you bring up a lot of good points and information thanks it will help me greatly to know how the game is played !!


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