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I’ve been riding for 30 years. Over that time I’ve learned a lot about PWC, but also a lot about what gear you need to bring along for the ride. Your dealer likely educated you to the obvious — PFD, wetsuit, gloves, footwear, maybe even a VHF radio or GPS. Spend enough time on the water, however, and you’ll find that list comes up a little short in the most practical of ways.
Sure, there’s literally tons of stuff you could bring along if you had the room. But what are the items you may be overlooking?
Here’s a list of four items that — unless it’s just a joyride close to shore — I never leave home without.
Sunglasses are good, but in rough water – particularly salty, coastal waters – goggles are better. I once left on a ride from Miami to Bimini wearing a pair of sunglasses. They were ripped off my face as I tackled the first wave heading out of Haulover Inlet. You can have straps, Croakies, whatever…glasses just won’t stay put. They also let in water from the tops and sides in rough, wet conditions, water that irritates your eyes and eventually obstructs your vision.
Goggles are a better, more secure choice. They’ll keep your eyes protected and your vision clear. Best of all, they’ll stay put when that unexpected wave gets you in the face.
Any goggles are good, but my favorites remain Oakley’s H2O series. They’re affordable (about $40), stylish, and ultra-functional. The Lexan lens resists scratching, protects your eyes from UV rays and glare, and the frame design lets water escape. Silicone grippers on the headband help secure them in place.
I haven’t met a storage compartment yet that has kept my stuff completely dry. My list of items that have gotten soggy spans from my clothes to a pricey Nikon camera. That’s why I carry a dry bag on most trips, a simple roll-top solution that keeps my stuff water-free.
Dry Pak makes one of my favorites, a clear vinyl bag that costs only about $15 and allows me to see the gear within. That helps when you’re searching around for something on the water or at the dock and can’t afford letting the contents go overboard.
Just toss your stuff in, roll the top down, and things stay sog-free.
Wetsuits are just too hot for the steamy summer months, but ride a long distance in standard issue boardshorts and you’ll discover chafe and soreness in spots you didn’t even know existed. They’ll rub you in all the wrong ways, a condition that, again, is even worse if you’re riding in saltwater. Neoprene shorts are a solution, but not everyone wants to reveal that much of the junk in their trunk.
Enter the lined boardshort. Basically, these styles are boardshort-stylish on the outside, with a functional, hidden neoprene or Lycra lining within. That close-fitting layer does wonders for comfort and protection, while the outer maintains that all-important coolness factor.
Both Jet Pilot and Slippery offer some great styles in the neighborhood of $55-$65.
Whether it’s to make a repair or tighten a loose-fitting on your engine, cut a rope or line that’s tangled your driveshaft, or just pop the cap on a celebratory beverage at the end of the day, tools are a must to have onboard to solve all of life’s little problems. Problem is, who has room for tools?
A well-designed multi-purpose tool can handle just about anything in a pinch. I’ve tested many over the years, and still like the basic Leatherman Wave (about $85). It’s got all the basics, is easy to manipulate one-handed, and just feels sturdy.
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