Mar 10 2021 All Articles

Jet Ski Etiquette & Safety

Jet Ski Etiquette & Safety

Jet ski ownership is increasing at a rapid rate and there's nothing more fun that zooming around on these machines in the water. However they can be dangerous if not used carefully so we've taken a look at the best ways to keep yourself safe and keep the safety of others in mind. It covers things like speed, right-of-way, noise, keeping distance, jumping, and the environment.

Jet skis are considered “power-driven vessels” by law, so the same rules apply to your jet ski as other power-driven vessels.

Speed: Reduce your speed. Keep to 5 knots or less within 50m of people and other vessels and 200m of any vessel flying a dive flag. You should not exceed 5 knots within 30m of the shore in inland waters and within 200m of the shore in coastal waters. When choosing your speed always consider the visibility, currents, waves, wind, and the presence of hazards.

Right-of-way: Boats and other commercial and fishing vessels always have the right of way. When approaching another vessel head-on, you must always keep right (you should pass one another with both left sides of the vessels facing each other). If a vessel is crossing your path coming from your right side, you should always slow down and let it pass first. You should also do the same for non-powered vessels like canoes, kayaks, and sailboats.

Noise: Be careful not to speed up near other boaters, the shoreline, or waterfront properties. Also, avoid travelling at a high speed in the early morning when people may still be snoozing.

Keeping distance: If you’re travelling at more than 10 knots, you must maintain a safe distance of 60 metres from people in the water and non-powered vessels, and 30 metres from any of the following:  1) boats anchored, moored or aground; 2) a boat ramp, wharf, pontoon, or jetty within 30m of people in the water; and 3) powered boats.

Jumping: Jet ski jumping etiquette dictates it is rude to jump off the wakes of vessels before asking permission to do so – talk to the boater first. And, with safety in mind, it’s dangerous to race another jet skier just to hit a wave. Always ensure you’re landing in a clear area with no swimmers or other boaters in the way.

Environment: Having fun on the water should not come at the expense of the environment. This doesn’t involve just litter, but also spilling oil or fuel. Also, steer clear of reefs and be sensitive to aquatic animals. 

In addition, be mindful that harbours, channels, rivers and narrow stretches of water have their own set of rules. Read up on the signs posted around ramp areas and be aware of lights and signals governing the water area you are riding on.

Jet ski exclusion zones exist! Different regions within New Zealand have their specific navigation safety bylaws determining where jet skiing is permitted and forbidden, check here for Auckland and here for the Waikato, for example. It is also illegal to use unregistered jet skis in some regions (by the way, it’s useful for identifying them if stolen).

And some safety tips…

  • You must be at least 15 years of age to operate a jet ski by yourself. However, someone under the age of 15 can operate one if they are being actively supervised by an adult – this means within immediate reach of the craft’s controls, for example, on the back with the lanyard round their wrist
  • Must wears…always wear an appropriately sized lifejacket and always have the safety lanyard attached to you, as the lanyard will immediately cut the jet ski’s engine if you fall from the craft
  • Always carry two forms of waterproof communication – cellphone, VHF radio, flare, or personal locator beacon
  • If you are using your jet ski for towing activities, remember it takes three to ski as you must have an observer on board (aged at least ten). If towing, travel in an anti-clockwise direction, keep your wake to a minimum, and do not tow between sunset and sunrise
  • Know your responsibilities and improve your knowledge by attending a Coastguard Boating Education course or, at the very least, read relevant safety material
  • Always keep a careful lookout. Remember that swimmers and other water users may be obscured behind swells, waves, wakes or other vessels. 

Articles from the NZ Herald files indicate the main etiquette and safety concerns related to jet skis involve: speeding; jet skis being driven too close to other boats or people, children being towed behind jet skis on a biscuit but without a lookout, and jet skis travelling at speed too close to rocks or riverbanks in narrow coastal areas.

Keep all these etiquette and safety tips in mind when you’re heading out for jet ski fun and enhance your experience.

Insuring your jet ski.

Most would say that insuring your jet ski is a “no-brainer”. If you plan on letting others ride your jet ski, you need to have insurance, and you also need to have it to protect you from others out on the water. 

Jet ski insurance at Mariner Marine offers all-encompassing coverage from sudden accidental physical loss or damage involving machinery, trailer, equipment and other accessories – including transportation and storage on land and launching and retrieving. Third party liability cover is also offered as it’s important to protect not only your jet ski, but yourself too.  

Phone us on 0800466467 and let’s talk jet skis and insurance.