Personal Watercrafts Defined

February 23, 2016
Personal Watercrafts Defined

Personal Watercraft are defined as a Jet driven vessel that the rider sits, kneels, stands, or lays “ON”.  As opposed to sitting “IN” a boat, kayak, canoe, or rowboat.  Many people ask what the difference is between a Wave Runner and a Jet Ski.  Great question.  The answer is simple.  It is the way you ride them.  They all fall under the category of Personal Watercrafts or PWC’s.   Personal Watercraft must abide by all local, state, and federal laws while on the water.  In Connecticut, you must have your modern day PWC certificate to operate a Personal Watercraft.


First is the most popular Personal Watercraft being a sit-on style.   The rider operates the watercraft from a seated position.  Often referred to as Waverunners they typically hold two or more people (check the capacity plate).   Pending the capacity plate, the sit-on style may tow a skier or tuber.

The second is the stand-on style.  The rider uses the watercraft standing up.  Riders do more freestyling and racing as a result.  Operators can also kneel on this style of personal watercraft.  They are not designed for towing a skier or tuber.

Third, we have the lay-on style.  Not as popular as the first two.  The rider uses the watercraft in a laying down position hence built for one rider.  Towing a skier or tuber with this style is not an option.


Often referred to by their trademarked brand names all of these vessels are Personal Watercraft.  We always hear Jet Ski, WaveRunner, or Sea-Doo.  Most of these manufacturers make all three styles.  This is sometimes confusing so to clarify it is kind of like Scotch Tape, Band-Aid, and Chapstick where the brand name is referred to as the generic product.

People can also water ski or be towed in a tube or other inflatable riding device behind a sit on PWC’s as long as the capacity is for at least three persons.  In other words, the person being towed must be able to fit on the PWC.  You always need three to ski hence you’d have to be able to seat three in order to tow someone using the personal watercraft.

Above all, Personal Watercrafts are Power boats on the pecking order.  All the rules of navigation apply.

Now, interestingly enough, the United States Coast Guard defines a personal watercraft, among other criteria, as a jet drive boat less than 13 feet in length (Class A), so as not to be compared to the more conventional sized jet boats…..gotta love it!


Most importantly, be smart, be safe, and remember there are no egos when passengers’ lives are in your hands.

Please visit our Public Course Schedule to view all of the classes we have available for you.  Zoom classes are now available.  There has never been an easier way to get your Boating Certificate

Here is a great link to the CT DMV’s page for registering your PWC  Registration of Personal Watercraft aka Jet Ski (