On the water: First-timer tips

During the 2021 boating season, Boating Industry was lucky enough to have two loaner units from BRP Sea-Doo. We took to the water with a new 2021 RXP-X and GTI SE 170 to a create a new, informative and immersive level of content for personal watercraft riders, both new and veteran. Thank you for joining us on this new journey!

Log date: July 28, 2021
While we’ve got two loaners from our friends at BRP Sea-Doo this year — a 2021 RXP-X and GTI 170 SE — this post will focus more on the GTI 170 and our first-timers to the world of personal watercraft.

Sea-Doo’s GTI platform went through a major update in the manufacturers 2020 lineup — earning the Sea-Doo and its GTI SE numerous awards including a Boating Industry 2020 Top Product Award, a Good Design Award and was named Watercraft of the Year by the Watercraft Journal.

With its ultra-stable and predictable hull, paired with Rotax’s 1630 ACE engine cranking out 170hp, the GTI SE 170 makes for a great beginner watercraft. It’s forgiving enough for some common rookie mistakes, but offers enough power and versatility to keep users entertained on the water for the long haul.

So let’s dive into some quick tips for the first-time watercraft owners and riders out there to make sure you always have a great time out on the water.

One with your machine

First and foremost, get to know your machine. Use the owner’s manual as your guide and learn the ins and outs of your machine while it’s still on the trailer.

Technology going into watercraft has certainly increased over the years, so it’s important to know which buttons do what. From navigating your menus to adjusting the Sea-Doo Variable Trim System (VTS) and everything else at the tip of your fingers, knowing what everything does prior to hitting the water will make it that much easier when you splash your machine.

Preparation is key

Getting everything ready as much as you can while you’re still at home or prior to the boat ramp will make your life a million times easier when you finally get to the water.

Our checklist before a day on the water includes things like: making sure we have life vests loaded up for all those riding; Double-checking we’ve got all we need in each machines storage areas (dock lines, safety kits, etc.); Ensuring our machines are fueled up; Making sure batteries are good to go; And checking all of the components on our trailer to avoid any issues as we head out.

Everyone heads to the water with a different plan — a few hours or a full day, watersports or fishing, distance river riding or a day on the lake, etc. — so make sure that your prep checklist fits your plan.

Safety first

As with most things, safety is of the utmost importance and a crucial component to a successful day of riding.

First in the realm of safety is to always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket while riding — regardless of if you’re behind the controls or a passenger.

Next up is to always attach your safety lanyard to yourself while riding. This lanyard is the easiest way to avoid disaster should you fall off of your machine at any point while riding.

While riding, be aware of your surroundings at all times. Your head should consistently be on a swivel while riding, especially on bodies of water your not as familiar with. Take note of any boat traffic or others using the water and make sure you give plenty of room between you and them.

Lastly, keep the necessary tools on your machine for safety. The old saying of it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it definitely comes into play here. The Sea-Doo Safety Kits (which we used on our loaner units) are a great starting point and include a rope, whistle and strobe. In addition to that, we keep waterproof first-aid kits in our machine’s storage units.

Practice makes perfect

You’re not going to be a pro the first time out on the water and that’s ok, so don’t try and ride like one. Once you’re finally out on the water, take the time to learn how both your machine and your body react to different situations and different styles of riding. The more comfortable you become with your machine, the more you can push, the longer you can ride, the more fun you can have out on the water. But start slow and build all of your skills from the ground up.

The same goes for trailering your machine. For those that may not have as much experience driving with a trailer, find an empty parking lot to practice in, or head to the boat ramp during non-peak times. And don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t click right away. Seasoned boaters and “boat ramp champs” might be intimidating, but we promise you, none of us were anywhere near perfect when we first started.

Click here to join the BI On the water journey on YouTube.

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