Owning a personal watercraft (PWC) can be a huge lifestyle decision. If you are interested in watersport activities or simply want to experience the sea or inland waterbodies, getting a PWC might be a good idea. But what exactly is a Personal Watercraft (PWC) and what should you know before getting a PWC? We’ll clear it up in this article.

What is a Personal Watercraft (PWC)?

Personal Watercrafts, in short PWCs, are small, powerful recreational watersport boats. They are more commonly known as jet skis or water scooters. If thrilling watersports are your thing, then PWCs are definitely for you. However, it does not mean it’s not for people who just want to chill out or want to hang out with family and friends.

While PWCs are not as affordable, they aren’t particularly an expensive hobby either. However, there are certain things you should be aware of before getting a PWC in South Africa.

The Skipper’s License

If you are riding a PWC, you must have a skipper’s license in South Africa. In South Africa, when it comes to driving any water vessel that is under or equal to 9 meters in length and has an engine of 15hp and above, you will need a Skipper’s License. And South Africa considers Personal Watercraft under this category.

Related: Getting a Skipper License in South Africa

However, if you are completely new to the field, you definitely should consider taking a course. While a jet ski’s handling is simpler to understand and master, it differs from driving a traditional powerboat. For PWCs, we highly recommend you take our RYA PWC Proficiency Course. We are an RYA-accredited South African marine institution, providing high-quality powerboat and jet ski courses to our clients for more than 15 years.

Personal Watercraft (PWC) Types

a. Sit-Down Jet Skis

Just like the name suggests, sit-down PWCs/jet skis are where the rider sits down while riding said watercraft. Now, there are a few interesting (and expensive) variations for sit-downs, however, the most common ones are two-sitter or three-sitter jet skis.

Due to their capacity, sit-down jet skis are ideal for cruising with family and friends and experiencing the waters. Such jet skis are not usually made for thrilling, adventurous watersports. However, some enthusiasts do host sit-down jet ski races sometimes, so you’re not missing everything on that thrill! And yes, there are racing jet ski options in the sit-down type as well.

And now, the variations we talked about. We’re not going to bore you with words here. Rather, we want you to enjoy yourself with these interesting videos instead!

Credit: OddityMall (YouTube) – PWC Divers, Dolphin-like Watercraft.

b. Stand-Up Jet Skis

Stand-up PWCs are mainly made with watersport activities in mind. As the name suggests, the rider has to stand up while riding a stand-up jet ski. These jet skis are fitted with shock absorbers, a high-powered engine and a lightweight frame for stunts and other jet ski tricks. Stand-up PWCs can only accommodate one person i.e. the rider. For example, take a look at this Kawasaki SX-R.

Compared to Sit-Downs, Stand-Ups are harder to master and certainly are not for a beginner. However, it is a mesmerising experience if you do manage to master it. For example, we encourage you to take a look at this video.

Credit: Superjet_daze (YouTube)

If this is something that makes you go ‘wow’, you can consider getting yourself a stand-up jet ski. However, make sure you practice plenty, do not jeopardize others’ lives or your own, and follow all the safety rules.

What to keep in mind while buying a PWC?

a. The PWC type

What kind of PWC you would buy depends on your preferences and how skilled you are. There are plenty of options available in South Africa. One insight we would give you here is that sit-down PWCs are more popular than stand-ups, for obvious reasons.

b. Costs

Owning a PWC and the watersports lifestyle is not exactly cheap. It is important to understand whether a PWC that has caught your eye is within your budget and that it will not put a financial burden on you. This also counts in the maintenance costs. Your ideal choice would be an affordable PWC with low-maintenance costs.

c. Maintenance

Just like all other vehicles, PWCs also need maintenance such as fuel, oil, and rinsing. If you take your PWC regularly to the beach, the saltwater can damage its framework or the engine. It is necessary to rinse your PWC after riding it on nearby saltwater bodies. Apart from that, jet skis need periodic oil changes, body parts maintenance, and fuel.

d. PWC Controls and Features

Each PWC is different and operates differently as well. For example, not all PWCs have a reverse gear or on-water braking feature. However, if you are a beginner, you should consider having such features for controlling your PWC better.

Furthermore, many owners also complain about how two-sitter jetskis feel cramped for two passengers and how three-sitter jetskis feel comfortable for two passengers instead. That is especially true for smaller PWCs and should keep that in mind while buying your PWC.

Some helpful YouTube videos regarding PWCs

  1. This video has been made by a Sea-Doo ambassador on YouTube, giving out basic advice on adopting a PWC lifestyle. This short, straight-to-the-point video may prove helpful to you.

Credits: Sea-Doo -(YouTube)

Also, Sea-Doo PWCs are available in South Africa if you are interested. They are well-known for their affordability.

  1. The Youtuber trythistv goes into detail regarding what to consider when you buy a PWC. Another helpful, straight-to-the-point video that may help you make the right decision.

(Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with the mentioned Youtubers in any way. This information is purely for educational purposes and Skipper’s Training SA does not bear any responsibility regarding Sea-Doo PWCs and the advice above in any way whatsoever. You—the reader—will bear full responsibility if you choose to act or make judgements based on the information presented above.)

Final Thoughts

A PWC lifestyle is indeed an interesting one. It can open brand new ways of living your life to the fullest for you and your family, and certainly the most pleasant ways if you ask us. As marine industry veterans, we understand how thrilling it can be to experience South African waters and we wish for more South Africans to experience this.

This is why Skipper’s Training SA provides RYA PWC Courses and RYA PWC Instructor Courses to help people learn operating PWCs and the lifestyle. Our interesting courses not only will bring knowledge, but the joy of learning and mastering your skills as well. Please feel free to contact us if you are interested or check out our website for more information.