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Launching a jet ski is one of the biggest challenges for beginner jet ski owners, as it can be stressful especially on crowded ramps!

Starting a jet ski does not just mean unloading it from the trailer but preparing it perfectly for the ride which includes a pre-ride check, gearing it up, fueling, and many other important tasks.

We at JetDrift, have compiled a complete guide on how to launch a jet ski properly and safely.

You can also learn how to start a jet ski on the beach, and even some tricks on how to launch two jet skis from a double trailer.

How to Launch a Jet Ski Like A Pro

How Do You Launch a Jet Ski?

To launch a jet ski safely and easily, you have to carefully make all preparations. Back up the trailer on the ramp until the bunks are completely submerged, detach the wench from the eye and push the ski into the water. Ride your ski at idle speed over the dock and tie it up. Finally, you must hurry back to the ramp and park your car as soon as possible.

Although these are the most important steps, as they say, “The devil is in the details.” So, let’s drill into the details of how to prepare your jet ski before you launch it!

Preparation Before Launching Your Jet Ski

When it comes to starting a jet ski, the more you prepare, the less stress and hassle on the ramp.

While you are waiting for your turn at the ramp, you can take time to perfectly prepare your jet ski. To avoid delays on the ramp, you have to get everything done in the staging area or parking lot.

Before you start launching a jet ski, it’s highly recommended that you check the following:

  • NEVER forget to secure the drain plugs! Overlooked plugs are the leading cause of jet ski sinking.
  • Make sure the key is on you and the jet ski engine starts (run the engine just for 5 seconds). It could be very frustrating if you realize your battery is dead after you’ve unloaded the jet ski from the trailer!
  • Remove the seat and ventilate the engine compartment, as jet skis have only passive ventilation and accumulated gas vapors can lead to an explosion.
  • Beyond these most important steps, you need to check some other things as well, which are clearly stated in the pre-ride checklist.
  • Fill up the tank completely! Never launch your jet ski if your tank is not full for safety reasons. Fuel docks can be expensive so the best way to fill up a jet ski is to stop at a roadside gas station on your way to the water.
  • Remove the straps from the rear, but never detach the winch strap before the jet ski reaches the water.
  • Make sure that the necessary safety accessories are on you, as well as the other gear you want to take on your ride. Load everything into the jet ski to avoid unnecessary delays in the loading area.
  • You should put your life jackets on before you sit on the saddle. For safety reasons, it is best if children put on their life jackets in the parking lot!
  • Don’t forget to disconnect the trailer lights from the car.
  • Beyond the gear, a bottle of water and some snacks may also come in handy.

Before you launch a jet ski, it’s also wise to check the steepness and condition of the ramp, and the water depth. Plan ahead and imagine how you would like to start your jet ski step-by-step.

Practice on the Weekdays

If you are a beginner, it’s recommended that you get some practice first before you launch your jet ski on the weekend.

This is because at weekends the ramps are usually crowded, so it makes sense to practice on weekdays when loading areas are generally quiet and you are not rushed.

Give yourself enough time for practicing. It is best if you try to load and unload your jet ski a few times until you can confidently do it.

Be aware that you may need different techniques on different ramps, so it’s a good idea to get some practice on more ramps in your area!

When it comes to launching a jet ski, probably the biggest challenge for beginners is backing up the jet ski trailer. If you feel you need some practice with the trailer, it’s recommended that you do it in an empty parking lot.

You may also find our guide useful on how to properly tow a jet ski with your car.

Act Carefully

Waiting for the ramp and launching a jet ski is always frustrating, but it’s imperative that you stay calm and act thoughtfully.

Ramps are usually crowded and can be very slippery, which can be nerve wracking.

Anxiety and a lack of focus may end in fails and dangerous situations, that’s why a lot of jet ski accidents happen in crowded docking area.

The key is to take your time and act with care as rushing does more harm than good.

How to Unload a Jet Ski

To unload a jet ski, slowly back up the trailer on the ramp and stop before it reaches the water. Remove the winch strap and let your friend hop on the ski. If you’re alone attach a long rope to the bow eye and the rear side of the trailer. Finally, continue to back up the trailer until the jet ski begins to float.

These are the most important steps, but here are some other factors you should keep in mind to unload a jet ski properly:

  • Always back up the trailer carefully as it’s always a hassle if you jackknife the trailer across the ramp.
  • Check the ramp carefully and make sure that there aren’t any vessels or other obstacles around you.
  • If the ramp is wide you may want to pick one side and never hog the center of the ramp.
  • Before your trailer’s wheels reach the water, stop the car, put it in park, and don’t forget the emergency brake.
  • Never detach the winch strap and the emergency chain before reaching the water.
  • If it’s possible, submerge the bunks completely under the water, so you can easily unload the jet ski.
  • If the water is shallow, back up the trailer slowly and carefully into the water, without backing off the end of the ramp.
  • If you can’t submerge the bunks completely you may need to push the ski off the trailer. It always depends on the steepness of the ramp, as a steeper ramp allows your jet ski to float sooner.
  • Never power load a jet ski (applying the throttle to load or unload a jet ski), as it can damage the boat ramp or even the jet ski’s hull. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to push the jet ski off the trailer by hand.
  • Once your jet ski is floating, make sure that the waves don’t push it into the trailer!
  • Pull the jet ski to the dock with a rope if there is a dock near the ramp. If the dock is further away start the engine and ride to the dock at idle speed. (Make sure that the water is at least 3 feet deep!)
  • If there aren’t any docks nearby you can anchor the jet ski near the ramp, or you can ask somebody to supervise your ski while you park your car.
  • In shallow water it is easier to start a jet ski if the trailer features rollers instead of regular carpet bunks.
  • While you back up your truck or car on the ramp, don’t submerge the exhaust into the water, as it may be damaged, especially if you launch your jet ski in saltwater. If the sound of your exhaust has changed it means that you have gone too far, and you have to come out the water.
  • If the water is shallow and you can’t get close enough to the water, you can consider a Trailer Hitch Extension, or another jet ski trailer with a longer tongue.
  • Be careful and aware of your surroundings as well. Boat ramps could be very crowded, which can easily result in an accident.

After Loading the Jet Ski

After you secure your jet ski to the dock, you should get back to the ramp and park your car as soon as possible. Other owners are waiting for their turn, so it’s always polite to free up the ramp in the shortest time.

If you are not alone, just drop off the jet ski with your friend/relative and move your car away from the ramp. The best practice is if your helper hops on the seat before you unload the jet ski from the trailer.

Also, try to leave the dock quickly, especially on a busy day, as others may be waiting for the dock as well.

That’s why it’s important to load all of your gear and prepare your ski for the ride before heading to the ramp!

How to Unload a Jet Ski by Yourself

To unload a jet ski by yourself you should first stop the trailer before it reaches the water. Detach the winch strap and the safety chain and attach a long (40-50 feet) rope to the bow eye and the rear of the trailer. Then, continue backing up the trailer until the jet ski floats, then pull the trailer out of the water and unhook the rope.

You can see the process in this helpful tutorial video:

How to Start Two Jet Skis

If you want to start two jet skis from a double trailer, the best practice is to attach ropes to the bow eyes and the rear of the trailer. Back up the trailer slowly until the jet skis float and move them to the dock. Launching two jet skis assumes that you have company with you, so ask for their help in this operation.

Be aware that it could be tricky if you want to unload two different types of skis from the trailer.

You can launch two jet skis much easier if they are sitting on rollers instead of bunks, as in this case, you can unload them easily with the winches:

Where Can You Launch a Jet Ski?

You can you launch a jet ski in many places, as marinas and public boat ramps can be found everywhere nationwide. If you are looking for the closest places to launch a jet ski in your area, don’t miss this free marina and boat ramp locator tool!

How to Launch a Jet Ski on The Beach

The safest and easiest way to launch a jet ski on the beach is to use a bigfoot beach cart (known as a jet ski aqua cart). Be extra careful if you want to launch your jet ski with a trailer on the beach, as full-size trucks or even 4WD trucks can get stuck in the soft sand! What’s more, the corrosive saltwater can damage your truck in many ways.

Because of the reasons above it’s not recommended that you launch a jet ski on a beach with a car or truck:

Conclusion – How Do You Start a Jet Ski?

To start a jet ski like a pro just follow these steps:

  • Prepare the jet ski (pre-ride check) and load your gear before heading to the ramp.
  • Unhook the straps on the rear side (don’t unhook the front straps!).
  • Check out the ramp’s condition upfront.
  • Back up the jet ski trailer slowly and carefully on the ramp.
  • Stop the trailer before its wheels reach the water.
  • Unhook the strap and the safety chain.
  • Attach a rope to the bow eye (or jump on the saddle if your buddy can park the car).
  • Continue moving the trailer slowly until the jet ski floats.
  • Move the jet ski to the dock and tie it up.
  • Park the car as soon as possible, so as not to block the ramp!

One of the biggest mistakes of beginner jet ski owners that they want to start their jet skis without preparation, which results in unnecessary delays and frustration on the ramp.

You also need some practice to back up the trailer and unload the jet ski with confidence, so it’s recommended that you get some practice on weekdays when the ramps are not as busy.

As the final word, before you start the process always get everything done, check the ramp, then you can launch your jet ski like a pro!

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Related Articles:

How to Load a Jet Ski on a Trailer in 5 Easy Steps! [Video]

How to Back Up a Jet Ski Trailer [Video Guide]

How To Trailer a Jet Ski Safely and Legally? [Video]

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