What To Do When You Suck Up Rope In Your Jet Ski?

Ever found yourself in a sticky situation where you’ve accidentally sucked up a rope into your jet ski? It happens more often than you might think – in fact, it’s even more common than getting a nail in your tire.

But don’t worry, because I’m here to guide you through the steps to take when you find yourself in this tricky predicament. We’ll cover how to safely remove that rope from your jet ski and, equally important, tips to prevent it from happening again in the future!

So, let’s untangle this mess and get your watercraft back on the water, rope-free!

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 PWC OVER!!!

If you’re in the water and think that flipping the PWC 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 craft 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.

What if I turn it to the side?NO, don’t do that, get the watercraft back on land and to a trailer.

How To Get Rope Out

  1. Make sure the engine is off and disconnect the battery.
  2. Have the machine 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. 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 tow-rope out, then you have to take it to your nearest dealer.

Sucking in a rope is akin to having a nail pierce your tire; such incidents are not included in the warranty. If the tow-rope causes damage, you may still need to bring the watercraft in for repair.

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 (Amazon Link Ad) 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.



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.

7 thoughts on “What To Do When You Suck Up Rope In 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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