Trevor Kaye bought 2007 Sea-Doo GTX 155 about a week after his first time on a personal watercraft (PWC).
Kaye was at a friend’s place on Salt Spring Island—where he lives—and the friend had two PWCs. Kaye was admiring them, so the friend asked Kaye if he wanted to go out for a ride on one to see what he thought.
“I spent eight hours on it that day,” said Kaye. “Then I sold my boat and had (a PWC) the next week.”
Kaye said that learning to ride a PWC is as challenging as you want to make it.
“You can get on and (be) thrown off in an instant, or you can go out and just cruise,” he said. “And there’s a rip cord if you fall off.”
For a PWC enthusiast, there are obvious advantages to living on an island. Kaye and his friend Razz leave Salt Spring Island and head out to the ocean to explore around the Gulf Islands and as far as Point Roberts, as well as up the Fraser River, across to Nanaimo or out to Goldstream.
“Anywhere in the Gulf Islands is great,” he said. “You just get on the thing and go exploring. There is so much to see and get into. They aren’t as noisy as they used to be. They are all four-stroke now and fuel efficient.”
Kaye said a completely different experience is going across to Port Renfrew—on Vancouver Island’s west coast—and experiencing the open ocean.
“On the open ocean you have a way broader range and the ocean is always changing,” said Kaye. “The tides are different, the waves are bigger, and it gets really fun. (PWCs) are like dirt bikes on the ocean.”
Kaye said that in the event of an unexpected change in the weather, the machines are quick enough that you can turn around in a hurry. When it comes to safety, Kaye has two non-negotiable rules: always wear a life jacket and never drink alcohol before or during operation.
Fun for the whole family
Kaye said riding the waves is definitely a family sport—PWCs can pull water-skiers and tubes—and his daughter joins him as often as she can. At 14, she still rides double, but is learning how to handle the machine herself.
“She gets choked if I go without her,” he said. “She loves it.”
When asked what his dream trip would be, Kaye said he would head south to Hawaii, where the waves are high and you can catch a lot of air. In the meantime, he’ll settle for easy day trips to Nanaimo, Friday Harbour in the San Juan Islands, or even to Vancouver.
“From Salt Spring, you can go right downtown under the Lion’s Gate Bridge and go as far as you can,” he said. “It is neat to be on the water and kind of in the middle of a city.”
Interested but not sure where to start? Kaye has some advice.
“Get a friend with one and take it for a ride,” he said. “Once you are on them, you realize how agile they are and how much fun—you don’t stop smiling for hours.”