Gone Outdoors

How Jet Skis Work

by Mark Orwell

An Intriduction to the Jet Ski

When personal water crafts were created, they were not well received by the general public. The idea of a water-propelled craft that people would operate from a standing position was simply too much for people to handle. However, when the Jet Ski product went on the market years later, it received fanfare and quickly became a popular recreational vehicle. In fact, most people call personal watercraft "jet skis" today, despite the fact that it is only one type of the craft.

The Jet Ski Engine

Just like land vehicles, jet skis are powered by a motor, though there are two unique properties that affect it. The handle of the jet ski is a button that sends an electrical signal to the engine's ignition, which starts the process of turning the motor. Once this is done, the engine itself continues the operation and powers the jet ski. Because engines create a great deal of heat, they need a cooling implement. In the case of most jet skis, water is let in to cool the craft. There is also a small notch in the handlebar for a pin that is usually connected to a rider's waist or life vest. The engine will only operate when the pin is in place, which keeps the jet ski from running off if the rider falls from the craft.

Jet Ski Propulsion

When the engine begins to run, it turns what is called an impeller, located inside and to the rear of the jet ski. The impeller is composed of curved blades, much like a propeller, only they take water into the jet ski rather than push it out. The blades of the impeller turn at a rapid speed and suck in water through a whole in the bottom of the jet ski. This water is then propelled out of the rear of the craft through a movable steering nozzle. The water comes out with such force that it puts pressure on the water outside the craft. Equal pressure is then exerted on the water craft, and it is pushed forward. In most jet skis, the impeller can be reversed in order to slowly move the jet ski in a backwards direction.

How to Steer a Jet Ski

The handlebars of a jet ski are connected to steering lines that run through the craft and attach themselves to the steering nozzle in the rear. When the handlebars are turned to the left, the nozzle is pulled to the left as well, causing the jet ski to pull in the same direction. This is how a rider is able to steer a jet ski. Some models even allow pressure to be placed on the handlebar in order for the rider to make a sharper turn than usual, which makes the jet ski much like a motorcycle on land.