Like riding Harleys — the most fuel-efficient way to tour by boat.
I’m enjoying the sun’s first rays as I head down Florida’s west coast, swapping stages in the Gulf with periods on the Intracoastal Waterway. Truth be told, this is a pleasure cruise. Several years back I crossed from Miami to Bimini at the helm of a PWC, surviving the open Atlantic, the Gulf Stream and all the eeriness the Bermuda Triangle could muster. Pushing my luck? Nope, my craft had proved both seaworthy and comfortable, even when Mother Nature decided to kick things up a notch.
Though its pint-size stature may tempt you to think otherwise, a PWC makes a fine touring machine. Many models are designed for this purpose. It usually starts with a touring-specific seat that’s forgiving under the behind but offers bolstered support that will save your lower back. To save my throttle finger from the agony of holding speed for hours on end, an electronic throttle makes it possible for me to set a speed and then forget it. A no-wake mode makes it even easier in those pesky slow-speed zones. Low on gas, without a marina in sight? Eco mode plots the most efficient speed and keeps me there.
Today’s three-passenger PWCs are bigger, and more big-water-worthy, than ever before. Hulls slice through waves, spray-deflecting chines knock down the water, and steering tracks straight and true. My Wake has more than 30 gallons of storage for necessities; flagship models offer as much as 60 gallons. On previous trips I’ve managed to fit in everything from a gear bag to a small tent with room to spare.
Limits speed, allowing novice riders to take their turn driving on cruises.
Keep an eye on what’s behind you in traffic.