The First Personal Watercraft

Ever wonder about the birth of the personal watercraft? A lot of people think the first bouncing baby pee-wee was the Kawasaki Jet Ski in the early ‘70s, a green stand-up machine that combined the skills of waterskiing with the high-octane thrills of riding a motorcycle. I actually owned a yellow 1976 Jet Ski 400, a model that stayed with me all the way through the latter years of high school and college before I unceremoniously dumped it for a shiny red 550 shortly after graduation. But I never owned the first ...

19th November 2009.
By Jeff Hemmel

SeaDoo 69

Ever wonder about the birth of the personal watercraft?

A lot of people think the first bouncing baby pee-wee was the Kawasaki Jet Ski in the early ‘70s, a green stand-up machine that combined the skills of waterskiing with the high-octane thrills of riding a motorcycle. I actually owned a yellow 1976 Jet Ski 400, a model that stayed with me all the way through the latter years of high school and college before I unceremoniously dumped it for a shiny red 550 shortly after graduation. But I never owned the first mass-production PWC — the 1968 Sea-Doo, an 18hp beast that sported a 318cc engine and a bright yellow paint job.

Sea-Doo sold these craft for three years, ending with the 1970 model year. Eighteen years later they’d reintroduce the brand and eventually become the market leader.

My good friend, and former editor Joel Johnson wrote a story about how it all came together years ago for Personal Watercraft Illustrated. Click here to read the whole story.


About the author:

Jeff Hemmel

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Jeff Hemmel writes for boats.com, Boating, PersonalWatercraft.com, and Powersports Business. The former Senior Editor at Watercraft World, Jeff is a multi-time award winner as well as a 2008 inductee into the IJSBA Hall of Fame. His first book, "The Anti-Pirate Potato Cannon...and 101 Other Things For Young Mariners To Try, Do, & Build On the Water," received a bronze medal in the 2010 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. For more info, visit Jeff Hemmel's website.

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