Advice for Jetskiing in the Winter
Is it possible to jet ski in the winter in the UK? Here is some advice from the Jetski Safaris Team. We also have a video which you can view on our Jetski Safaris YouTube Channel which runs through the below content.
Here at Jetski Safaris we often get asked by customer’s with their own jet skis whether it is possible to carry on riding through the winter. The quick answer is yes. Whilst we don’t offer our Jetski Safari experience through the winter months we do carry on with our RYA Personal Watercraft Training Courses all year round.
There are several factors you would need to consider before heading out on the water. We have tried to summarise them below to give you some guidance on having a fun but safe winter jet ski session and included some of our JSS Top Tips.
Things to consider before heading out:
As always the number one thing on top of our list should be checking the weather? Predominantly what’s the wind doing and how is that going to affect my riding area? Is it going to stay the same conditions the whole time I’m out or is it going to pick up and create rougher sea conditions just at the point I start to feel tired?
We always recommend looking across 3 different resources to check they are all giving similar forecasts. We have personally found that the most accurate and useful forecasting apps / webpages are : Windy.com, windguru.cz, xcweather.com and metoffice.co.uk so take your pick. JSS Top Tip: the Windy app will combine Wind and Tide predictions so will give an even more accurate picture of the potential sea state.
Stronger wind will generally create rougher sea conditions resulting in more advanced riding techniques needing to be adapted therefore fatigue will set in quicker. JSS Top Tip: Monitor your energy levels and I would always recommend taking a 10 minute breather to let the adrenaline die off a bit to see how you are really feeling.
It is always important to look at the wind direction and not just the strength. This will not only help determine the effect on the sea state in your local riding area but also how cold it will feel whilst riding. A great example of this is when we experience a Northerly wind in our local jet ski riding area of Poole / Bournemouth. This direction creates great flat conditions close in to the coastline as it is coming off of the land but will often feel a lot colder due the air originating from the polar regions.
JSS Top Tip:
Northerly and Easterly Winds create the types of conditions where you really feel the cold in your fingers and face and would definitely want a decent pair of gloves and possibly even a neoprene balaclava or face mask and hat.
Also riding in flatter conditions will require less energy than riding in the rougher conditions we would expect to experience in a southerly wind, therefore it will be harder to keep the blood pumping around the extremities of your body.
Another factor with winter weather without stating the obvious too much is the ‘air and sea temperature’. Modern wetsuits and drysuits can do a fantastic job at keeping our core temperatures warm but it is always worth considering how you would hold up if you did fall in the water several times.
As a rider the more time you spend on the water and looking at forecasts the more experienced you will become at reading it and looking for crucial signs of it changing during your session.
Riding with someone
If you are getting more confident on riding your jet ski and fancy heading out into some rougher conditions through the UK winter months we would always strongly suggest trying to head out with at least one other jet ski or boat. This just gives you a vital backup should anything happen to your craft and you have some ‘watching your back’.
Carrying the right safety equipment
We will break this down to equipment you should carry on your person and safety equipment you should carry in the Jet ski.
Personal safety gear
Lets start at the bottom and go to the top. First of all a decent pair of wetsuit boots which should hopefully keep your feet warm and give you some grip if standing whilst riding.
Then either a winter wetsuit (5/3) or drysuit. Head over to somewhere like King of Watersports who have a great range of kit. We will be posting a separate article at a later stage on what our team personally prefer between a wetsuit or a drysuit but both have there advantages.
Then I would suggest a spray top or neoprene jacket to go over your wetsuit, this helps as an additional wind barrier whilst you are often travelling at faster speeds on a jet ski.
Over this should go the important Bouyancy Aid or Impact Jacket. As well as all of this you will most likely want to wear a decent pair of gloves. JSS Top Tip: Wear a thin pair of latex gloves, the type you buy 50 in a box from Boots, to wear underneath your normal gloves. These just keep your hands dry and therefore slightly warmer underneath a normal neoprene pair.
JSS Top Tip:
Wear a thin pair of latex gloves, the type you buy 50 in a box from Boots, to wear underneath your normal gloves. These just keep your hands dry and therefore slightly warmer underneath a normal neoprene pair.
Either a pair of sunglasses or goggles to help keep the spray out of your eyes and finally a neoprene beanie or balaclava to keep the wind off your face. JSS TOP TIP: These last few bits of kit can sometimes feel restrictive on your head and reduce peripheral vision so make sure you try them on before purchasing and find a setup that you feel comfortable with before heading out.
VHF – Make sure you always have your VHF attached to your person and not put in the glovebox of the jet ski. The reason for this is should you ever fall off your jet ski and the wind or tide separate you then you would need to raise attention from the water. JSS TOP TIP: There is no point carrying a VHF if you do not know how to use it properly therefore make sure you book yourself onto a VHF Course which is run by many RYA Centres either in the classroom or online all around the country.
Essential safety KIT on your jetski
We would always recommend carrying the following safety kit on your jet ski at all times :
Tow Line: JSS TOP TIP: add a carabina to each end to make it quicker to use in an emergency and to potentially save you having to try and tie knots with cold hands.
Inshore Flare Pack – Two orange smoke and two red handheld.
Small 2 KG Anchor, short bit of chain and line.
Knife with serrated edge.
Small First Aid Kit.
Mobile Phone: JSS TOP TIP:
Buy a cheap pay as you go phone and SIM card from a supermarket for £20 with £10 of credit and keep as your ‘jetski emergency phone’. Add some emergency contacts in the list and keep it charged and with your jet ski for everytime you go out. This way you don’t need to take your £600+ smartphone on the water and risk breaking it. Also these cheaper phones tend to have much longer battery lives and therefore you always know when out on the water you should hopefully have enough charge and credit to make that call if you need to.
Telling someone where you are going
It’s always important to tell someone where you are planning on going and roughly how long you plan to be out on the water for. Therefore should anything happen and you are not back in when expected that person may be able to take appropriate action. That said if you are out having lots of fun, try not to lose track of time and contact them if you are planning on staying out longer.
JSS Top Tip: The RYA Safetrax App is a great resource for this.
Checking over your Jet ski
It is always good practice to check over your jet ski before heading out on the water. Look over the hull for any damage, check your oil, inside the engine bay, and your engine mounts. The only way to check these is to get physical with your engine and just try and lift it up as in the pictures below to see if there is any movement.
Finally try and always head out fully fuelled and stick to the rule of Thirds. JSS Top Tip: ‘Rule of thirds’ with fuel is; a third out, a third to return and then a third as an emergency back up.
If winter riding doesn’t appeal then check out our how to winterise a jet ski video on our Jetski Safaris You Tube Channel.
Please note the above article has been written to provide some useful information to help improve your PWC riding and safety. We would always suggest you ride within your limits and if unsure about the conditions you are about to head out into then it’s probably best to stay dry and head out on the water another day.
This Article was written by Ross Ceaton – RYA PWC Trainer
Invaluable tips from our resident RYA PWC Trainer Ross Ceaton relevant if you are taking your Jet Ski Instructor Course at a land based RYA Training Centre or are Superyacht Crew, and have a RYA PWC Trainer running a course onboard.
If you are not planning on using your jet ski over the winter months then it is beneficial to winterise it before you put it away in storage or leave it outside on a versa-dock.
With Jet Ski’s being such a big investment for a seasonal piece of sports equipment, it is important that you give them attention every time you use them. Regular maintenance should be applied throughout the season and not just at the start or end.
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