Jet skiing is a fun water sport that’s easy enough that anyone can participate without special training. However, jet skis are prone to flipping over, and can sometimes fail to restart if that happens a lot. So what do you do when your jet ski does not start after you flip it?
If a jet ski does not start after flipping, tow it back to land and check if the engine has been submerged or stuffed with debris. If so, clean and dry out the engine before having a professional repair it.
This article explains the most common reasons jet skis flip over and what to do when your jet ski does flip over, both when the engine starts and when it does not. It also covers handy tips to keep you and your jet ski safe when you are out on the water.
Why Do Jet Skis Flip Over?
There are many reasons why jet skis flip over, and you should try to avoid these situations if you want to flip over less or keep your jet ski working well.
The most common reason jet skis flip over is the speed you are riding them. Trying to get back on the jet ski after a fall can also flip it due to the imbalance caused by your body weight. Additionally, jet skis can flip over when overloaded, or when the people onboard are inexperienced riders.
Here’s a more in-depth explanation of why jet skis flip over.
The Speed Is Too Fast or Slow
The most common reason jet skis flip is that you are riding on them too fast or too slow. You can go as slow as you want on a jet ski, but when you are sitting still, or you want to idle, you need to be more conscious of how you balance on your jet ski.
A jet ski balances better when it’s moving. But when it’s stationary, you need to balance it well when you sit on it. Otherwise, it’ll flip over.
On the other hand, going too fast will also make you more likely to flip over your jet ski. You are also more likely to flip if you are doing tricks and big turns on your jet ski or riding on big waves.
If you are doing any of these things, you need to be comfortable riding on the jet ski and be confident in your ability to flip it back over when you fall off. If you are a new jet ski rider, take it slow and do not go faster than you are comfortable.
Number of People on the Jet Ski
If you ride with multiple people on the jet ski, you need to consider a few other things to prevent the jet ski from flipping:
- Buy a bigger jet ski if you will be riding with more than one person more often than not. If you go over the weight limit, you will sink or tip over before you can even start moving.
- Make sure everyone on the jet ski knows how to ride. If everyone doesn’t shift their weight properly, or the weight of the people on the jet ski is not distributed evenly, you are more likely to flip over.
If you or anyone else riding are unfamiliar with riding a jet ski, start slow and do a small tutorial on land before you start riding.
After Falling, You Do Not Know How to Get Back on the Jet Ski
Finally, make sure you can get back on your jet ski after it flips. You should practice doing this in shallow water, keeping in mind that you will not have any ground to push off of when you flip your ski in the middle of the water. The idea is to practice enough that you can get yourself back on the jet ski using just your body, without flipping it over again.
There is also a chance you will fall off the jet ski without it flipping. Even if the jet ski does not flip, you still need to get back on it. If you cannot get back on using just your body, and you try to put too much weight on the jet ski, it will end up flipping, leaving you worse off than you started.
You do not want to keep flipping the jet ski over until you have to give up and get back to shore to get back on (source).
What To Do After Your Jet Ski Flips
After your jet ski flips, there are a few steps you need to take before you can get riding again. You need to turn off the engine and flip the jet ski back over quickly. What happens next depends on if the jet ski starts or not.
Here are the steps to take after your jet ski flips.
- Turn Off the Engine
First, make sure the engine is off before you start taking any of the steps below. Usually, the engine will turn off automatically when you flip a jet ski since the lanyard will be pulled. However, there are rare cases where this doesn’t happen.
Ensure the safety lanyard is always tightly secured on your life jacket or wrist before you start riding. This way, the engine will turn off if anything happens.
- Flip the Jet Ski Back Over
Once the engine is off, flip your jet ski back over immediately. The faster you can flip it over, the better. If you let it float upside down for too long, water can leak into the engine and damage the jet ski. This damage might prevent the jet ski from starting after it flips over, which i’ll will explain later.
The best and easiest way to flip over your jet ski is to go to the back of it and grip the ride plate, which is the metal piece by the intake grate. Then, push on the top of the jet ski, called the gunwale, with your hands or feet until the jet ski is right-side up again.
Once you flip the jet ski back over, you can climb on it.
- Drain the Bilge
Next, you need to start the engine up and let the bilge drain before you can ride again. You should let it drain for at least one minute before riding again at full throttle. Otherwise, you may severely damage the engine by splashing water from the bilge into it. If all goes well, you can continue riding as normal.
If it is not working right away, give the jetski a few tries to start, and wait until the bilge is drained before trying to start it a second time. It may need a minute to drain before it can get going again. But, if it is not starting despite your efforts, you need to move on.
This video on YouTube from David Brown shows you how to drain your jetski’s bilge when it is in the water:
Do not worry if the engine does not start. In the next section, I will explain what to do if you cannot get the engine to start again after the jet ski flips.
What to Do if Your Jet Ski Won’t Start After Flipping
It would be great if the engine starts and you can be on your way after the above steps. But what happens when the jet ski does not start after flipping it? You will need to get it back to shore.
There are two options to do this.
- If you are close to shore or have another person or two to help you, you can push it back to the dock, take it out of the water, and figure out why it is not starting from there.
- If you cannot push it on your own or are too far away from your dock, you will have to tow it with a boat.
For the latter option, you’ll need to get a towline, which should be three times as long as the total length of the jet ski and the boat towing it. If you don’t own such a line, consider a heavy duty braided one like Obcursco Premium PWC Dock Lines (link to Amazon).
It comes in a set of two ropes made for towing small watercraft like jet skis up to 2200 pounds (998 kg). The ropes have a stainless steel clip and come in two sizes of 7 and 14 feet (2 and 4 meters).
When towing your jet ski, have someone sit on it and keep the bow raised out of the water to prevent further engine damage. Also, make sure you only tow at a speed of five miles per hour or less for the same reasons.
Once you get the jet ski back to land, inspect it to ensure that the engine is not flooded or stuffed with debris. If it has been submerged, you need to dry it out. This video on Youtube from Mainland Cycle Center covers the specifics of what to do with a submerged jet ski:
If you cannot empty the engine, you need to take it to a professional who will assess it further. Go to a Yamaha Dealership, or contact the sellers of your jet ski and see what they recommend
How To Take Care of You and Your Jet Ski
Taking proper care and safety precautions when you ride your jet ski is extremely important if you want to keep riding.
Here are some tips for keeping your jet ski in good condition, and more importantly, staying safe when riding.
1. Wear Proper Equipment
First, you should always wear the proper safety equipment when jet skiing. Having a life jacket is the most important thing, especially if you flip it over.
Even the best swimmers need life jackets when participating in water sports like jet skiing. Not only will it keep you safe in case of an accident, but it will help you stay afloat while you try to get your jet ski right side up after it flips.
Some states even require you to wear a lifejacket when you are on a jet ski. You can find your state on the USCG Boating site.
Here are some great life jackets you can get online that will help to keep you safe while jet skiing.
- Seachoice Life Vest, Type II Personal Flotation Device – USCG Approved (link to Amazon): You can get these life vests in multiple colors and sizes for adults and children, so everyone on the jet ski will stay safe.
- Eyson Inflatable Life Jacket Life Vest Basic Automatic/Manual (link to Amazon): These inflatable life vests work for adults and children thanks to the adjustable belt. They come in ten colors and dry fast while still being durable.
2. Be Conscious of Everyone Riding
You should also be aware of your passengers at all times. After your jet ski flips, make sure your passenger is safe and close to you before moving on to flipping the jet ski back over. Get them close if they’re far from you and the jet ski and assess their injuries (if any).
If the injury is bad, leave the jet ski and get to shore for medical attention. If the injury is not bad and can wait until you get back to shore, move on to flipping over the jetski.
3. Do Not Ride in Dangerous Areas
You’ll also want to avoid riding too fast in an area that is not wide open, especially if you have multiple passengers.
Be more cautious if you are close to the shore, any rocky or murky area, or you are unsure of the water conditions. Hitting obstacles with your jet ski can result in injuries or damage to your favorite watercraft.
Riding in an area with lots of debris like seaweed also comes with its fair share of challenges. Your engine can get clogged easily, causing all kinds of complications (source).
4. Fall Correctly
Even the most cautious riders will eventually fall off. As such, you need to know how to fall off a jet ski safely. Since you are more likely to fall when going fast and doing tricks, this is especially important for wilder riders.
When you’re about to fall off your jet ski, just let go. Do not try to hold on to it. Not only will this make it flip, but it also poses a safety risk because the safety clip will not come out. You may hold onto the power, which could send you and the jet ski flying.
You also don’t want to fall off and end up under the jet ski. Ideally, you should fall off to the side so the jet ski does not hit and injure you.
When you hit the water, try not to fall on your face or your head. This is especially crucial if you are going fast because chances are you’ll hit the water hard. It’s even more critical when you’re riding in a rocky area, where you risk falling on rocks near or under the water (source).
When your jet ski flips over when you are riding, and it does not start, you will have to tow or push it back to land and see what the issue is there. More likely than not, there is something wrong with the engine, whether there is something stuck in it, it flooded, or the jet ski was just not generally taken care of.