For some people, jet skiing is a fun hobby to do at the beach or the lake. It is a great ride and a way to enjoy yourself while hanging out on the shores of a large body of water. However, some jet skiers might wonder if they can even use their jet skis at night.
You can use and ride a jet ski at night if your state regulations allow it. Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Oregon, South Dakota, and Vermont allow night time jet ski rides. Others, including OK, NH, MT, AL, Washington D.C., IN, and MS allow jet skis at night, as long as they have lights.
The rest of this article will go in-depth about whether you can use a jet ski at night, why you wouldn’t be able to, and some safety tips to always keep in mind.
Can I Use a Jet Ski After Sunset in My State?
Every state has its own rules when it comes to jet skiing in the darker hours. Most states consider jet skis to be boats or a Personal Watercraft Operation (PWC). However, it is best to look up your state’s boating laws and determine the regulations regarding jet skis.
You can use a jet ski after sunset if you live in Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Oregon, South Dakota, or Vermont. States such as Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Montana, Alabama, District of Columbia, Indiana, and Missouri allow jet skis at night if equipped with navigation lights.
There are some specific reasons why most states have these laws in place. The reasons are mainly for the rider’s safety and other boaters out on the water late at night.
Why Doesn’t My State Allow Me to Ride My Jet Ski At Night?
It might not feel very pleasant to hear that your state does not allow you to ride your jet ski at night. You might even be wondering why.
States don’t allow people to ride jet skis at night because it is a safety issue for riders and other boaters. After all, jet skis are not visible at night. If your state doesn’t allow it, you could end up getting slammed with a hefty fine.
The following are some more detailed reasons as to why riding a jet ski at night is a safety issue:
- Your jet ski won’t be visible at night. It is unusual for jet skis to have navigation lights installed, which can be a huge problem at night. Because of the lack of lighting, you won’t be seen at night by other boaters, which could cause collisions and injuries.
- You will likely be alone, and your life jacket doesn’t have a reflective light. If you decide to ride your jet ski at night and you fall, your life jacket might keep you afloat, but you likely won’t be seen by others or rescued if you’ve lost your bike. Your life jacket doesn’t have a reflective light for others to see, and this is primarily a complex problem when there are other boaters in the water as they could accidentally hit you.
- People can be very foolish. Not everyone boating on the lake or beach is responsible, which does not change during the night. There are even riders who drink alcohol and are riding their jet skis drunk. Always take precautions when another boater or rider is spotted.
- Getting stuck in the middle of a lake or far into the beach is a terrible problem. If your jet ski runs out of gas or you get stuck on the lake, it will be challenging to get help. You will likely remain stuck for an extended time, and you would have to find a way to contact rescue.
- Inclement weather can be a safety hazard. Fog, lightning, and even rain are dangerous conditions to be riding in. In this situation, the best thing to do is ride to land quickly and walk away from the body of water.
- You will get fined. If it is illegal to ride a watercraft after sunset and before dawn, law enforcement will not hesitate to stop and give you a fine. Unless you want to pay an unnecessary amount of money, it would be best for you to avoid riding your jet ski at night in your state.
What if I’m Riding My Jet Ski and Find Myself Skiing at Night?
If you especially dedicate a lot of time to riding your jet ski, you might spend long hours on the beach or lake. However, on the off-chance that you accidentally find yourself riding your jet ski at night, you are going to want to know what to do to avoid injury and getting fined.
If you are skiing past sunset, try to make it to land quickly. Get off the jet ski, call a towing company if you aren’t near your vehicle or your ski is low on fuel, and make your journey home.
Doing this will ensure that you are safe and away from any boaters or other watercraft users on the water that day.
My State Allows Me To Ride at Night, What Can I Do To Be Safe?
Some states do allow riders to ride at night. Most states, however, require that riders install navigation lights on their watercraft to keep themselves and other boaters safe.
You can keep yourself safe by installing navigation lights, knowing how to handle certain situations, and getting a towing membership. All of these methods are effective ways of keeping yourself safe at night while you ride your jet ski.
The following are details on how these methods are a great way to keep yourself safe:
Installing Navigation Lights Will Help You and Others See
Jet skis are faster than most commercial boats, and their sudden movements can confuse other watercraft users. The lack of visibility at night makes this problem worse. However, installing navigation lights will help you and other boaters see.
Figure out what lights you need to get for your jet ski, and install them if you plan to use them at night.
Know Proper Boating Etiquette
When deciding to ride at night, it is essential to know what the different light colors mean on boats, when to let other ships pass you, and how to handle encounters with other jet skiers. Try taking a class or getting a certification for operating a jet ski, as these can help you discern what to do in specific scenarios. In some states, you need to get certified to work a jet ski in the first place.
Get a Towing Membership
Without a membership, towing can be pretty expensive. However, with a jet ski, it might be worth it to get a towing membership. If your jet ski runs out of fuel or ceases to move, you will want to have a towing membership on hand. Towing memberships will not only save you money, but they will also be beneficial during times where your jet ski gets stuck.
Safety Tips for Riding a Jet Ski
Now that you are aware of jet skiing at night, you will also know about some of these helpful safety tips. Practicing proper safety procedures will keep you safe and allow you to keep your PWC license or certification (if your state requires you to get one or you have already obtained one).
The following sections will go over some safety tips for you when riding a jet ski.
Know Your State’s Regulations
One of the most critical steps to riding a jet ski is knowing what your state requires of you as a responsible jet ski rider.
Some states require that you become certified or obtain a license before freely riding your jet ski.
Be sure to read your state’s laws and regulations regarding PWC and what you must do to ride legally and responsibly. The best way to do this is to call your state’s department or check your state government’s website to read up on their laws.
Take a Boating Course
In addition to figuring out your state’s laws and regulations, it is also a good idea to learn how to operate a jet ski properly. In some cases, the state might already require you to take a course anyway.
You can do this by searching boating courses near you or asking other people who ride jet skis what local courses they recommend taking.
It is also a good idea to invite a friend or someone who consistently accompanies you to the beach or lake to take the class with you so that they will learn proper safety precautions and what to do if something happens while you are skiing.
Never Forget Your Life Jacket
Another critical factor in keeping yourself safe while jet skiing is wearing a life jacket. Sometimes it is tempting to ride a jet ski without your jacket, but you should always prioritize safety.
Wearing a life jacket will keep you afloat if you fall off your jet ski and keep you from drowning in deeper water.
It is vital to note that if you feel yourself slipping from or falling off your jet ski, you will have to let yourself fall and allow your life jacket to do the work of keeping you afloat.
Another crucial thing to know about life jackets is that they are not one size fits all. Be sure to find a life jacket that best suits you, and be sure that you can buckle everything together. Be sure that you know exactly how to wear a life jacket (this can also be a topic covered in your boating course).
Do Not Jet Ski While Drunk
Not only is being drunk while jet skiing illegal, but it is also a massive safety hazard.
Getting drunk affects your ability to soundly reason and affects your mood drastically. If you know that drinking makes you angry and aggressive, you should most definitely not drink while jet skiing.
In addition to drunk jet skiing being a hazard, you will most likely get fined and even arrested by law enforcement if they catch you jet-skiing in a drunken state.
Always Bring Someone With You
In this case, the person does not need to ride the jet ski with you, but you must have someone on shore who can watch you and ensure your safety while you go skiing.
This person should be someone you trust to pay attention to you while you jet ski and can quickly grab a life guard’s attention if you are in danger or an accident happens.
If you have a child, teach them what to do if they see that you are in potential danger. Let the child know that they should not attempt to try and rescue you themselves and that they should immediately inform a lifeguard of what happened.
Do Not Jet Ski in Unsafe Weather Conditions
This tip is one of the most essential safety advice.
If you notice that the weather is terrible and that there seems to be a storm coming or reports of heavy rain, lightning, or fog, refrain entirely from skiing that day and wait until there is clear weather or schedule your ride for another day.
Inclement weather can cause all sorts of accidents and injuries. In severe cases, climates like lightning can cause death.
For your benefit, it is vital to stay safe and avoid injuries as much as possible.
Riding a jet ski comes with its risks and responsibilities. What is important is that you take the proper precautions and procedures to keep yourself safe.
Using a jet ski at night might not be ideal (or even legal, depending on your state), but there are ways to keep yourself safe while doing so. It is crucial to install navigation lights, know the flow of boating traffic, and follow safety tips to use a jet ski responsibly.
Even if you don’t ride your jet ski at night, you now know all the ways to keep yourself safe and avoid injury.