Sharing the experience of riding a watercraft with a passenger (or two) is half the fun! But as the driver, it’s your responsibility to not only deliver a fun ride but also ensure your passengers stay safe.
Start by understanding if your watercraft is designed to handle two or three passengers. Nearly all current model Sea-Doo watercraft are three-seaters, with the exception of the 2-up SPARK and SPARK TRIXX, and the performance-minded RXP-X. In addition to passenger capacity, all units also have a corresponding weight capacity, clearly displayed on a label affixed to the craft.
Never exceed passenger or weight capacity as it can negatively affect your craft’s handling.
Before you begin a ride, make certain that all of your passengers know how to swim and that all are wearing a minimum of a Coast Guard-approved life jacket and neoprene shorts or wetsuit to protect the lower body. It’s also a good idea to do a practice run of how to reboard from deep water to ensure all your passengers are capable of safely getting back aboard should anyone fall off the craft, or your group stops and gets off the boat to take a swim.
As to the seating arrangement, the driver must always sit closest to the controls. Don’t be tempted to put a child in front of the driver as they may be injured if their head or upper body contacts the steering column. A child in front of the driver also inhibits the driver’s ability to properly control the craft.
Passengers should sit inline behind the driver, settling into the tiered nooks molded into most saddles. Feet should reach the footwells and be firmly planted against the footwell surface. As to grab handles, passengers can use the seat strap that spans the saddle’s width aft, the rigid grab bar mounted below the rear portion of the saddle, or simply hold onto the passenger in front, whether by wrapping their arms around the rider or taking hold of the straps encircling their life vest.
Again, remember the driver is responsible for the safety of all passengers. Before accelerating up to speed, remind passengers to hold on and brace for the sudden forward motion. Before initiating a turn, alert passengers to your intentions and encourage them to lean into the turn with you to resist the centrifugal force that will otherwise push their weight to the outside of the turn. If you’re about to encounter significant waves, warn passengers of the coming rough water and encourage them to hang on tightly. Should you need to brake abruptly, shout a quick warning so passengers can brace for the sudden deceleration.
And remember, never ever apply throttle with a passenger in the water. Any time a rider is off the craft and in the vicinity, the engine should be stopped and the safety lanyard disconnected to prevent an accidental start.