Personal Watercraft Safety
Operating a Personal Watercraft (PWC) is extremely fun and exciting. While we here at Kompletely Kustom Marine want you to have as much fun as you can while on the water, we also care a great deal about your safety. So we’ve taken the time to list rules, regulations and safety precautions here for a quick reference.
Equipment that is required by Maryland Law:
- Life Jacket – Each person on board a PWC must wear a size-specific, US Coast Guard approved type I, II, III or V life jacket.
- Kill Switch Lanyard – The PWC must have a functioning self-circling device or a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch. The lanyard must be attached to the operator, the operator’s clothing or the operator’s life jacket.
- Sound Producing Device – In order to make the sound signals required by the rules of the road, the PWC must have a horn or whistle on board.
- Fire Extinguisher – All PWC must have an approved, working, B-I fire extinguisher.
- Registration Numbers and Decals – A PWC must be registered with the Department of Natural Resources. The registration numbers and validation decals must be displayed appropriately.
- Throttle Control – Make sure it returns to the fully closed position when released.
- Safety Lanyard – Make sure engine will shut off when lanyard is removed.
- Fuel level
- Fuel Pressure – Loosen filler cap to relieve any pressure, then tighten securely.
- Check for Fuel Leaks and Ventilate Engine Compartment – open cover for a few minutes.
- Steering – Make sure that the thrust nozzle moves in response to turning the handlebars.
- Clean Pump and Drain Bilge – Be sure foreign substances are cleared from jet pump and drive shaft.
- Check for Hull Damage
- Fire Extinguisher – Must be fully charged and up to date.
- Check Hose Connections – Be sure connections, bolts, nuts, and fasteners are secure and tight.
Whether going through your pre-ride checklist or at any other time, if you notice that something isn’t right or there’s a problem that needs to be taken care of, don’t delay getting it fixed. Kompletely Kustom Marine has experienced technicians that can fix the problem early before it turns into a bigger issue.
Maryland Rules and Regulations
These rules are enforced by the Natural Resources Police:
- The operator of a PWC must be at least 16 years of age. Also, anyone born on or after July 1, 1972 must carry a certificate of boating safety education on board.
- In Maryland waters other than the Atlantic Ocean, PWC cannot operate at a speed greater than 6 knots within 100 feet of other boats, piers, pilings, bridge structures, shoreline, wharfs, people in the water or other PWC.
- A person may not operate or give permission to operate a PWC in excess of idle speed on any waters of the State less than 18 inches in depth.
- PWC cannot operate between the hours of sunset and sunrise.
- When towing a water skier, you must have a three-person craft with a rear-facing observer who is at least twelve years of age.
- When operating a PWC in Maryland waters of the Atlantic Ocean, you must not operate or give permission to operate a PWC within 300 feet of surf fishermen or people in the water or, at a speed greater than 6 knots within 100 feet of vessels, wharfs, jetties, shoreline or piers.
- An individual may not operate or give permission to operate a PWC registered in the State of Maryland unless a regulation sticker approved by the Department of Natural Resources is properly attached to the PWC.
- Boating under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol impairs judgement, motor skills and concentration. It is also a violation of state law.
- You may not operate a PWC in any of the following negligent manners:
- Jumping or attempting to jump the wake of another vessel within 100 feet of that vessel;
- Riding backwards and/or standing on the seat of the craft while riding;
- Weaving through vessels and recklessly operating in areas of congestion;
- Speeding in restricted areas such as marinas, minimum wake zones, environmentally sensitive areas;
- Operating in a manner that endangers the life, limb or property of any person, including the operator. (i.e. splashing other PWC or swimmers, buzzing piers and other boaters, etc.)
- Deep Creek Lake: PWC and Hover Crafts may not be operated on the lake between 11 am and 4 pm on the Saturday, Sunday and holiday of Memorial Day weekend, as well as the Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from July 1 through Labor Day. Please contact Deep Creek Lake Recreation Area at 310-387-4111 for more information.
The crew here at Kompletely Kustom Marine wants to remind you to never sacrifice safety just to have some fun. Always keep these rules and safety tips in the forefront of your mind while operating your personal watercraft.
Important Facts to Remember
- The 100 foot rule – Most PWC accidents are collisions. Stay at least 100 feet from everything.
- PWC have no brakes – Allow long distances for stopping.
- No Throttle = No Steerage – You must maintain some throttle to maneuver.
- Avoid tunnel vision – Don’t just look forward – continually look to both sides and behind while riding.
Now that you’ve taken the time to educate yourself on operating a PWC, go have some fun (keeping safety in mind)!