Personal Watercraft or Jet Ski…which is it?

Many people ask what the difference is between a Personal Watercraft and a Jet Ski which I think is a great question. The answer is simple. The term “Personal Watercraft” refers to a category of vessel. A Personal Watercraft or PWC, is a watercraft that the rider sits or stands on, rather than inside of, like a boat.

PWCs however, have two style categories:

1. The first and most popular Personal Watercraft being a “sit down” or “sit on”, where the rider uses the watercraft mainly sitting down and typically holds two or more people (check the capacity plate). People can also water ski or be towed in a tube or other inflatable riding device behind these PWC’s as long as the capacity is for at least three persons so the “tow-ee” can rejoin the driver and spotter on the watercraft.

2. The second style of Personal Watercraft is a “stand up” or “stand on”, where the rider uses the watercraft standing up. The stand up styles are built for one rider and is used more for doing tricks, racing, competitions etc.., and are not designed for towing a skier or tuber.

Most Personal Watercraft are often referred to by the trademarked brand names such as Jet Ski, WaveRunner, or Sea-Doo and most of these manufacturers make BOTH.

Now, interestingly enough, the United States Coast Guard defines a personal watercraft, among other criteria, as a jet drive boat less than 13 feet in length, so as not to be compared to the more conventional sized jet boats…..gotta love it!