How to drive a Sea-Doo Personal Watercraft?

The fun, excitement and pure enjoyment you get from experiencing the water from the seat of a Sea-Doo personal watercraft is second to none. That said, we know, as a new rider, there can be some uncertainty before you head out for that first ride. That’s why we’ve put together this quick tutorial on how to drive a Sea-Doo personal watercraft.

Remember, everyone you see living the Sea-Doo life on the water was once a brand-new rider. And the Sea-Doo community is full of helpful people who remember exactly what it’s like to be the new kid on the water. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take your time; with a little practice, you’ll be off and enjoying all the incredible Sea-Doo adventures out there to explore.

The basics: how to drive a personal watercraft

Let’s start with a quick overview of how the jet propulsion system moves a Sea-Doo PWC. Water is drawn up through an intake grate underneath the personal watercraft. It’s then pushed out of the back of the watercraft by an impeller that produces thrust and forms an accelerated jet of water through the jet nozzle at the back. Ultimately, this is what moves the watercraft forward.

The jet nozzle changes direction when you move the handlebars, which makes the personal watercraft change directions. It’s important to remember that any personal watercraft needs to be under power to steer; as soon as you turn the Sea-Doo PWC off, you lose the ability to steer.


Sea-Doo personal watercraft controls

Before pressing the Start button on your Sea-Doo PWC, make sure you’re in 2 or 3 feet of water to avoid sucking any debris off the bottom. This would cause damage to the intake or impeller. 

Connect your tether key to your personal flotation device with the clip, and the other end just below the center of the handlebars. Then push the red Start/Stop button to start the engine.

There are two ways to stop the engine. The common method is to press that same red Start/Stop button. But the engine will also shut down if the tether key is disconnected from the watercraft. This is a safety feature if the driver falls off, and it’s important to make sure your tether key is always connected to you.

The throttle lever is on the right handlebar. Squeezing the throttle on the right accelerates the Sea-Doo. Most Sea-Doo personal watercraft are also equipped with a brake lever on the left handlebar. 

Squeezing the left-hand brake lever activates the Sea-Doo-exclusive Intelligent Brake and Reverse (or iBR) system. This slows the personal watercraft down 30% faster than coasting to a stop. This same lever will also activate reverse at idle speed, giving you an incredible amount of confidence and control around places like crowded sandbars, boat ramps and docks. Simply squeeze and hold the left lever and modulate your reverse speed with the right-hand throttle lever.

Sea-Doo Riding Tip: A second learning key is also available as an accessory through your Sea-Doo dealer. This special key is programmed to limit the top speed to make learning the controls less intimidating for novice riders.


How to ride a personal watercraft with a passenger

It’s always a blast sharing the Sea-Doo life with your besties! Bringing someone along on your rides adds to the fun and memories. It’s important to remember that as the driver, you’re responsible for making sure your passenger understands how to ride safely.

For starters, everyone onboard must wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device and neoprene bottoms. Show your passengers the hand holds located at the side of the seat as well as the seat strap. You can also encourage them to hold on around your waist if that’s more comfortable. Passengers should be properly seated with their feet able to firmly reach each footwell when seated.

Communication is also important for passengers. Let them know when you’re about to slow down, accelerate hard or turn sharply so they can prepare themselves. It’s always best to start slow with passengers as another person on board can affect the way your personal watercraft moves.

General personal watercraft safety tips

A few final tips before you head out for all the amazing Sea-Doo adventures in your future:

  • Always wear your personal flotation device and neoprene shorts or wetsuit.

  • Take a boater’s safety course. It’s important to know and understand the navigation system and to learn the specific rules like no wake and slow speed zones, restricted riding areas and navigational buoys before leaving shore.

  • Always ride responsibly and safely.

  • Know the waters you will be exploring. Shallow water, hidden objects under the surface, currents, tides, wakes, waves and other hazards can affect safe operation.

  • Plan your ride and always inform someone you trust of your planned route and estimated time of arrival before leaving.  

  • Check local weather forecasts before departure. Beware of rapidly changing weather conditions.

  • Practice! This will help you better understand stopping distances and be more confident in responding to various riding situations. Start slow and wait to increase your speed until you’re confident in your driving.

We hope these pointers help you understand how to drive a Sea-Doo and feel more confident in getting out on the water. Don’t forget to check out the Sea-Doo Owner’s Zone on our website for more great riding tips. Life’s more fun on the water; we can’t wait to see you there!

Frequently asked questions

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    How do you safely ride a Sea‑Doo with a passenger?

    How do you safely ride a Sea‑Doo with a passenger?

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