143035_DBW Course_r3

Chapter 4 X Personal Watercraft

Safety Mechanisms Most personal watercraft are equipped with engine cut-off switches (ECOS) that must be attached to the operator by a lanyard. If the rider falls off, the cutoff switch engages and shuts off the engine. The PWC engine will stop, and the watercraft will glide to a stop nearby. Other personal watercraft have an automatic idle and self-circling device. If the rider falls off, this will make the vessel circle slowly in the area until the rider can reboard. Operating a PWC equipped with a self-circling device is prohibited if the device has been altered.


Jet pump action is similar to letting go of an untied balloon. Imagine blowing up a balloon and letting it go. The air rushing out propels the balloon. A jet pump operates in the same fashion. Water, rushing through the pump, propels the personal watercraft forward.


Similar to powerboat operators, PWC operators have the primary responsibility for preventing accidents, and must have the following safety equipment: ƒ A Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher, good for gasoline and oil fires. ƒ Sound signaling device—a whistle attached to your life jacket, or a stored signal horn. ƒ A backfire flame arrestor that is clean and well secured. ƒ Ventilation of the engine compartment—in order to clear the compartment of fumes, you should ventilate by opening storage spaces and seat for at least four minutes before starting the engine, and after refueling. ƒ Visual distress signals if your boat is 16 feet or longer (for coastal waters only). Every person on board a PWC and any person towed behind a vessel must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. The life jacket must be in serviceable condition and of a type and size appropriate for the conditions and the activity. Exceptions: a person aboard a personal watercraft or being towed behind a vessel, if that person is a performer in a professional exhibition, or preparing to participate in an official regatta, marine parade, tournament or exhibition. Instead of wearing a Coast Guard-approved life jacket, any person engaged in slalom skiing on a marked course, or any person engaged in barefoot, jump, or trick water skiing may choose to wear a wetsuit designed for the activity and labeled by the manufacturer as a water ski wetsuit. A Coast Guard-approved life jacket must be carried in the tow vessel for each skier choosing to wear a wetsuit.


To maintain good awareness and judgment: f Beware of natural things that can cause stress, such as wind, sun, noise and motion. f Do not drink alcohol and operate a PWC. f It is against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol. f If you are convicted of being under the influence and operating a PWC, you can lose the privilege of getting or keeping your driver’s license.


California Course for Safe Boating

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