PWC 101: Things You Should Know

Load capacities, lanyards, and fuel reserves has teamed up with to give prospective personal watercraft enthusiasts the tools they need to get started.

This is the third article in a four-part series that we hope will teach potential PWC riders the basics about their craft and how to ride safely on the water.

Load Capacities

Load capacities will vary for PWC. There are a number of different sizes of PWC: from single-person to four-person vessels. A quick glimpse of a user manual will explain craft’s load capacity. Never exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations and be sure to include anyone towed behind a PWC in the capacity limit.

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Purpose and Use of a Lanyard

As with other recreational vehicles (ATVs, snowmobiles), lanyards are an essential PWC accessory. Your PWC will not start unless the lanyard is attached to the start/stop switch. The lanyard is there for your protection. Since these machines are fun to drive with their quick acceleration and sharp turning ability, it’s inevitable that riders will at some point end up off their vessel and in the water. If you fall off the PWC, the lanyard will be pulled off the start/stop switch and the engine will stop immediately. The lanyard ensures that a “runaway” PWC does not endanger other swimmers or boaters. And, when the lanyard stops the engine, you won’t have to swim so far to get back on for another ride.

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Purpose and Use of a Fuel Reserve

Riding a PWC can be a ton of fun, so it is easy to lose track of time and your fuel level when you are darting about the waterways. While a PWC does not have room for oars to row ashore, most have a built-in reserve fuel tank that holds a gallon of fuel. Keep a close eye on fuel levels, and head for shore if you have had to switch to the reserve fuel tank.

THE 1/3 RULE: When operating a PWC always abide by the 1/3 Rule; this means use 1/3 of your fuel to operate, keep 1/3 of your fuel to get back to shore and keep the other 1/3 as a reserve in case of emergency.

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About offers online courses approved by many state agencies responsible for boating safety education and recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard. Successful completion the course will allow you to meet mandatory boater education requirements. offers courses and instructional videos for all 50 states and Canada.

Related Reading
PWC 101: Getting to Know Your Craft
PWC 101: Handling
PWC 101: Safety