Boating – Steering Your Personal Water Craft

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 17,536
    Lieutenant Ward Kovacs from the Ocean City Beach Patrol demonstrates how to Steer Your Personal Water Craft.

    Edward Kovacs

    Ward Kovacs is a Lieutenant with the Ocean City Beach Patrol in Ocean City, Maryland where he has worked as an ocean lifeguard since 1983. Some of his chief interests during this time have been working on techniques for the care and treatment of patients who have suffered spinal injuries in the surf, supervising the Junior Beach Patrol program, and developing a rescue watercraft program. The area that has seen the most changes over the years has been in the watercraft program. In 1980 the Beach Patrol acquired its first motorized vessels. The town purchased four Zodiac Mark IV Grand Raid inflatable boats, and four 25 horsepower Evinrude outboards. The boats were not put to any regular use, as few guards knew how to operate them. Ward was one of those who enjoyed driving the boats in the surf, and spent hundreds of hours launching, beaching, and riding waves with the boats. Within a few years, Ward designed a three-day training school for lifeguards who were interested in operating the rescue craft. In the early days, the school was largely based on knowledge he gained through his own experiences; both good and bad. With the advent of jet-powered craft in the early 1990’s, the Beach Patrol began to use two rigid hulled Zodiac jet boats that were powered by Yamaha motors. They later moved toward using personal watercraft along with rescue sleds that attach to rear of the vessels. Each advancement in technology has required Ward to make changes in the way rescue craft are deployed and used. The Beach Patrol now uses four Kawasaki 1200 cc Jetskis with rescue sleds. Lt. Kovacs continues to oversee the purchasing and deployment of watercraft, and the training of lifeguards who use them.

    Hi, I am Mort Kovacs, I am the Personal Watercraft Rescue Instructor for the Ocean City Beach Patrol. One of the things I want to talk about in this segment of our video on personal watercraft is an important safety issue with personal watercraft. Unlike cars, SUVs and other vehicles, personal watercraft actually steer from the rear, just like a boat would with an outboard on the back of it. This is something we are going to demonstrate for you in the water. You have seen how the nozzle on the back of the personal watercraft actually provides the turning thrust, enabling the watercraft to turn by turning the steering wheel up here. The problem is if you launch and you are operating close to a dock or pilings with a pushing from the back and the steering from the back, if you were to give it gas from this position, turning hard to the right, that jet nozzle is going to drive the back of the jet ski underneath the pier. Now, anybody who is sitting on the back of the jet ski could be severely injured by that. If you are sitting up in the front and you are close to a piling, you turn hard to the right after the motor is running and give it gas, the back of the jet ski is going to push you into that piling and it could throw you against the piling and cause severe injury. Very important to remember that jet skis and personal watercraft, unlike cars, they steer from the back. Now that weve demonstrated for you how the steering works on personal watercraft, I am going to talk about another important safety issue in this segment of our video on personal watercraft, and that is, if youre not giving the personal watercraft gas, you dont have any steering.