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First Time on a Jet Ski? Here's What You Should Know

March 27, 2014 at 12:21 PM | by | ()

This horrible, extended winter may have you daydreaming of a vacation to somewhere warm, sunny, and surrounded by blue waters. Just about every recreational body of water will have at least one business offering personal watercraft rentals and, as such, it's important to be familiar with the basics before turning the key on something like a jet ski.

Jet Skis are a highly maneuverable form of personal watercraft that can easily reach speeds of 65 mph, so they do not come without their risks. Recently, while staying at Waldorf-Astoria's Casa Marina Resort in Key West, we zipped out on some jet skis to hop waves and review skills. Here's what you need to know:

· Every Jet Ski that you own or rent should be operated with a life vest. You will be operating at dangerous speeds and this basic accessory is very important if you're thrown off or worse.

· Each Jet Ski will have an emergency cut off switch connected to a cable fastened to you. In the event you fall off, the cable releases the switch on the handlebars and shuts off the engine so it will stop moving and allow you to climb back on board. Remember: if the engine is running, the Jet Ski will be moving, even if you are not applying power.

· Changing direction on a Jet Ski relies on throttle. Once you are at speed and wish to turn, you must continue applying the gas. The propulsion AND steering are operated by the jet of water coming from the bottle of the hull. If there is not enough thrust from the nozzle, the vessel will not turn.

· Jet Skis do not have a brake. Use caution especially if you are around other boats or immovable objects, like a dock or pier. To properly stop, simply reduce speed to a slow idle then shut the motor off, but be careful because you will not have steering when you do.

· Take your time at first. This is most important. Learn how the watercraft operates and get a good feeling for turns and acceleration.

· Check the state laws regarding personal watercraft before renting one, since most states are different.

· Have fun!

We traveled to Key West as guests of Subaru, but all photos and opinions are completely our own.

[Photos: Steven D/Jaunted]

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