For all of these tours to be possible, a PWC is required. Our personal choice is Seadoo by BRP with suspension. Unfortunately they stopped making suspension models for the time being so if you are in the market for one with suspension, you'll have to buy one used. The attention to detail, the ground-breaking technology that BRP employs is second to none. Using many different machines on these tours we have found that they are best done using motors with 215 HP or more considering gas mileage and the comfort of not having to push a lesser HP motor to the maximum RPM all day to keep up. Also, A 3 seater model is recommended. It’s all about comfort. Seadoo Sparks have come with us and kept up no problem and their mileage is quite good. While they can physically make the trip, longer trips can be hard on the body when using a Spark.
Safety Equipment Transport Canada Regulations for PWC equipment Section 517, Small Vessel Regulations Current to 2011-05-15 If every person on board a personal watercraft is wearing a personal flotation device or a life-jacket of an appropriate size, the personal watercraft is required to carry on board only the following safety equipment:
A sound signaling device (a whistle or air horn);
A watertight flashlight or 3 pyrotechnic distress signals other than smoke signals ie flares;
a magnetic compass, if the personal watercraft is navigated out of sight of seamarks;
navigation lights that meet the requirements of the Collision Regulations, if the personal watercraft is operated after sunset or before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility; and
A first aid kit (optional).
This is the single most important piece of safety equipment you should have in your kit outside of what Transport Canada requires. Any hand held GPS with a mount (RAM mounts) will do. In some cases you can mount it with Velcro. By trial and error, we have found that mounting the GPS above the handlebars is definitely the best position so as to keep your eyes up looking where you are going. When mounted on the glove box cover, you are looking down too much to be safe.
Our favourite GPS is the Garmin Oregon 750. It has upgrade-able storage to allow for more and more maps to be loaded. The critical set of maps to be loaded is BlueChart G3 for Canada or the Canada LakeVu G3. They are the marine charts required to properly navigate our inland waters. It gives indications of low water depths and underwater obstacles that must be avoided. It also gives the location of buoys by number. The accuracy is incredible. The screen is in colour for easier reading.
If you don’t mind have a big GPS on your machine, a chart plotter is an awesome piece of equipment. With a large, high-resolution 5” screen and loaded with a BlueChart G2 chip, navigation through tricky waters is a breeze. You can quickly see upcoming underwater obstacles, shallow depth areas and potential dead ends. Depending on the model, it can be mounted in front of the handlebars using a RAM mount or it can be mounted on the glove box cover with some reinforcement. It can be hardwired to your battery so the install is a bit trickier than a battery operated handheld GPS.
Our choices for a portable chart plotter are the Garmin GPSMap 276Cx or Garmin echoMap CHIRP 55cv augmented with the BlueChart g2 Vision chip or the Canada Inland Lakes chip. It has a button based interface and is waterproof.
It is certainly more bulky and requires custom mounting on your glove box but this style of chart plotter has proven to be a real winner over the last few years of use for us.
For letting your friends and family know where you are or in case of an emergency, the SPOT satellite locator is a must have for long trips that may or may not have cell phone coverage. Once you have your setup done on the web, all you need to do is press a button it emails people on your list your location and if you are okay, in trouble or in a dire emergency. The 911 button is especially handy if you are hurt or sinking as it will automatically alert the GEOS satellite tracking system who call the local emergency responders to your location. The email your friends and family receive, if you are OK or in a bit of trouble, gives a web link with your coordinates to be displayed on Google Maps. Most places we go have full cellular coverage so this is not a critical piece of equipment.
Earplugs make the day go much better. Without all of that wind noise, you can just enjoy the scenery. They also help to ensure your hearing is protected. After 100+ miles on the water, you can get a wicked headache without them
While some people are comfortable with just sunglasses, tinted sport goggles certainly cut the wind that can dry your eyes over a long trip. They typically are like sunglasses but completely surround your eyes with foam padding that allows your eyes to breathe but keeps the wind out. Princess Auto has them for about 10 bucks. If you are looking for better optics, you would get them from a sunglass company like Bolle, but expect to pay much more.
For those of us that are follically challenged (hair loss), your head is a magnet for the sun while riding. Unless you want to glow like a lobster, cover it up with a do-rag. We use do-rags because they do not catch the wind. Baseball caps will fly off or give a really weird tan line if turned around. They also look like you ride in a biker gang…but on Seadoos!
On long trips your hands can get fairly sore. When it’s cold, they really are your best friend. Any kind of glove will do but have a few pairs handy for different reasons. Gloves with neoprene are used for rough water because they will get wet. Thin work gloves, sailing gloves, or waterski gloves are the most common. Marks Work Warehouse has a great selection for different weather conditions, otherwise go to Overtons.
Since your feet will probably get wet at some point, when it’s warm, use water shoes that have a hard sole. They dry quickly and are good for walking up to that special lakeside patio for lunch and refreshments.
When it gets colder or if the water is cold, rubber sailing boots are the perfect solution. Nothing is worse than having cold, wet feet for 8 hours. You can also wear a pair of wool work socks when the temperature takes a plunge.
These shells are breathable and water resistant. The suits are windproof and splash proof which keep you warm. On colder days, use more layers underneath to get yourself to the right temperature and then strip off layers during the day as it gets warmer. Even in the roughest conditions, the suits will keep you almost 100% dry inside. The jacket will have a rubberized collar and sleeve cuffs that tighten by using a Velcro strap. It can be found at sailing stores and kayak shops like Mountain equipment co-op. See it here. The pants may be rubberized around the ankle with a Velcro strap. They can be found at sailing stores and kayak shops like Mountain Equipment Co-op. Expect to pay about $200 – $300 for a suit. Ours happen to be made by Seadoo but were discontinued years ago. You can still find old stock occasionally at marine recreation stores. They are the best we have found – too bad we can’t get more.
While you may not need this mask very often, you will be glad you have it when it rains and you are far from home or your launching point. If you find them at boating stores like Bass Pro Shops, they may be called “fast boat masks”. The other place to find them is at a paintball supply store. Get one without a sun visor as it will move around too much when you get up over 50 MPH. On occasion, you may start out in the morning and have a weather forecast for a chance of rain and decide to go anyway. If you get caught in that rain, your splash suit, sailing boots, neoprene gloves, neoprene bonnet (see below), and rain mask, make for a very comfortable ride home. Use Rain-X on the lens (rub on / let dry/ polish off) to ensure clear vision at speed. These masks are also very helpful on cold days. They cut the wind by about 99% on your face so no wind chill / wind burn.
The headgear is made from neoprene and acts as a rain repellent. When going at high speeds in the rain, the droplets get fairly uncomfortable hitting your scalp. It also acts to keep your head warm on cold days. Get these at kayak stores or Mountain Equipment Co-op. You can use a scuba diving beanie but it’s a little tight to wear for hours on end.
If you are launching your Seadoos from the trailer where there is no dock, the last person to get on their machine (who pulls the trailer from the water) will have to get wet as they have to do a “beach launch” from their machine that a buddy has rested on the shoreline. You want to keep your feet dry, so you can use a telescopic pole to push your machine away from shallow water once you get on board. This is to prevent anything from getting sucked up into your impeller and jamming it potentially ending your day before it starts. Two solutions that we have found are a small telescoping boat hook or a “trekking pole”. These may be fastened to the side of your machine with heavy duty Velcro. Overtons Mountain Equipment Co-op
If you like taking video on your trips, the GoPro 3 HD video camera is a spectacular way to record your day. With its super wide angle lens, you won’t miss anything and being wide angle the effects of the bumps and shakes on the Seadoo are far less noticeable than when you hand hold a regular point and shoot camera. It has a suction cup mount as an accessory that can withstand wind at 70 mph so no worries about it falling off your machine. Many of the movies made on this site use a GoPro HD camera. You can buy it at any BestBuy or at Vistek in Toronto.
These warmers slip on and act like a turtleneck. Your splash suit jacket collar fits tightly around it to keep your neck really warm on the cold mornings. It’s easy to take off once it warms up.
The main tools that are always needed on board are a knife and a socket wrench fitted to the bolts on your intake grate. You don’t want your trip ruined by a stick that got stuck in your impeller. Fix it fast with these tools. One other nice-to-have item is a very, very, long pair of curved forceps – about 2.5 feet long. Princess Auto has these. They are useful for pulling things out of your intake grate without taking it off.
If you have the room on your particular model of PWC, store a small 5 liter or 1 gallon container of fuel. This can really get you out of a jam. There’s nothing worse than getting within a mile of a marina and running out of fuel. On longer trips, where fuel stops are sparse, it is very important to watch your RPMs in order to conserve fuel. We find staying below 5600 RPM will really improve your mileage. Surprisingly, a Stage 1 kit which makes your machine have higher top end and a better hole shot actually improves mileage when you don’t push it.
For those wishing to extend the range of their machines, a fuel rack is a great way to go. For this particular rack, you can fit 3 VP Racing fuel cans on the back of your Seadoo to increase your range by about 67 miles (108 km). For some tours, extending the range means not having to need a marina along a remote area to refuel. For other tours, it means paying for fuel at regular gas station prices and not marina prices. This can mean savings of up to $30 per day depending on the ride. Robbie Taylor in Tampa FL is doing a terrific job of custom making PWC racks for our machines, from fuel racks, to fishing racks to just about anything you can dream up. He does a great job with powder coated aluminum tubing for a frame in any colour and his own unique way of attaching the rack to your ski without the need for ratchet straps. The VP Racing Fuel cans can be found on Amazon.ca or at Royal Distributing in Canada. Check out Robbie’s website here: JetSkiRacks