The Different Types of Personal Watercraft
Personal Watercraft are typically designed for the rider to either sit or stand on. Some are designed for one person, but can carry two; and now they are made in models for three and four people to ride on. They have become more popular in recent years.
Original models were stand-up watercraft, designed for one person. Now, they are a means of entertainment and water transportation capable of holding the whole family.
They have been referred to generically as WaveRunners, Jet skis and SeaDoos, which are actual models of Yamaha, Kawasaki and Bombardier. But much like the Jacuzzi was a term used for every hot tub made until it was clarified as a brand name, there was some confusion in the past.
They have no exterior propeller and are fairly easy to use and affordable. The larger models can even tow a skier or tube behind them. They get good gas mileage, which makes them more affordable than a boat to operate. They have a kill switch, and will typically circle the rider, once they have fallen off.
While they were once equipped with two stroke engines, the majority of the newer models now use a cleaner burning four stroke engine. There are still some issues regarding the safety of personal watercraft, as accidents and deaths have been on the increase with the burgeoning popularity, and many states now require a rider to be 14 years of age to ride alone.
The other negative about the personal watercraft is normally related to some of the daredevil and careless drivers that jump the wakes of larger boats, cut across in front of bigger watercraft at a dangerous distance, and drive too fast for the water conditions, such as waves, obstacles, or currents.
For the most part, the majority of the riders follow the rules and ride them safely and at proper distance from other, larger watercraft. It is recommended that riders wear life vests and neoprene suits for the safest operating conditions.
The most popular brands are Bombardier’s Sea Doo, Yamaha’s Wave Runner and Kawasaki’s Jet Ski. All of these are similar in features, and are top sellers.
The largest personal watercraft is the Sea Doo LRV model, which is 13 foot long and 5 feet wide with 180 gallons worth of storage space, and the largest fuel tank available at 25 gallons. It has enough power to pull a skier with three riders. Bombardier’s Sea Doo has 50.3% of the United States market of sit-down type personal watercraft.
Several manufacturers like Polaris and Arctic Cat have gotten out of the personal watercraft market, leaving fewer competitors, and only the strongest remain. Bombardier, Yamaha and Kawasaki still have strong sales in the most popular units, and consumers are still in love with personal watercraft for fun and transportation.
How Recreational Vehicles Damage Hearing
Hearing Loss can be caused by many things, but a main culprit is continual loud noise. You might not have thought of this, but riding recreational personal watercraft – think of jet skis (generic term used) for example or snowmobiles might be endangering your hearing. Riding these machines can be fun, even exciting, but take adequate precautions for your hearing. There are some newer PWC that are electric and don’t make noise so they wouldn’t be a problem.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires annual hearing tests for workers exposed on a daily basis to 85 decibels (dB) or more. Besides the frequency of the loud noise, the duration (length of time exposed in minutes or hours) is also taken into consideration.
Permanent hearing loss may occur at 140 decibels (such as shooting a weapon without hearing protection or an explosion) and gradual hearing loss may occur over a period of time at 90 decibels for those exposed daily or for longer periods of time.
So consider this – some older snowmobiles generate as much as 120 decibels. According to the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees, the newer four-stroke models of snowmobiles still generate enough noise to damage hearing.
Yellowstone safety officer, Brandon Gauthier, “advises employees who drive the new four-stroke snowmobiles to wear earplugs because the machines are almost as loud as the two-stroke models, reaching a noise level of 111 decibels during acceleration.
Because the decibel scale is logarithmic, that’s many times higher than the 85-decibel level at which medical experts advise the use of hearing protection * “As for Personal Watercraft (PWC) such as jet skis (generic)” We can expect the older Personal Watercraft (PWC) and two-stroke engines to have extremely high noise levels, with a range of 85- 102 decibels per unit “, according to a 2005 Issue Summary for Colorado State Parks. The American Hospital Association does recommend using hearing protection above 85 dB.
Do you work around Go-Karts or motorcycles ?. Loads of fun for everyone, yet the average Go-Kart has a decibel level of 79-83 dB at 100 ft. I wonder what it is for the person inside the Go-Kart? Let’s hope the employees are wearing hearing protection. So the next time you or your children go to ride Go-Karts put some ear plugs with a good rating in your pocket. That was easy!
According to research published in Audiology, 2001, those people that were involved in leisure activities with loud noise associated with them, such as 90 dBa or more, were significantly more likely to have acquired hearing loss than those that did participate in noisy recreational / leisure activities.
So, do yourself a favor – if you are going to be using loud recreational vehicles, protect your hearing with ear plugs. Check out the Noise Reduction Rating before buying, and you can enjoy yourself with less risk to your hearing.