Has anyone else noticed that nobody hates PWC riders anymore? Seems like just yesterday watercraft riders were drawing small arms fire from flats guides in the Florida Keys, getting kicked off the water in New England and Lake Tahoe, and even drawing the ire of boat manufacturers for causing too much controversy.
Well, a lot has changed. Last week I was at the media introduction for the 2011 Sea-Doo line in Stuart, Fla. Our group of about a dozen watercraft and six Sea-Doo sport boats rode under the Dixie Highway bridge to the mouth of the St. Lucie River, and then motored into Sunset Bay Marina, where there is not a boat in the place smaller than my house – a high-rent district for sure. The public dock put our arrival on display for the lunch-time crowd enjoying the terrace of the Sailor’s Return restaurant. Just 10 years ago, we would have been about as welcome as the Black Pearl herself. And for good reason – we would have been banging around the dock and emitting a lot of obnoxious two-stroke noise and exhaust fumes.
But on this day, nobody even looked up from their Cobb salad. I think PWCs are now generally quieter and cleaner than many boats on the water. And thanks to the clever Sea-Doo iBR brake/reverse control, everyone snugged neatly up the dock with nary a scuffed rub rail. And there were some beginners in the group. This was a minor revelation. I can remember times in the past when riding with a covey of PWC (twin-engine jet boats were even worse) was simply embarrassing.
So, thumbs up to the PWC manufacturers for transforming their product, which today is not only cleaner and quieter than ever, but also faster and more technologically advanced as well. Riders are doing their part by learning and observing the rules of the road, and respecting other boaters. It probably helps that we have stopped wearing neon neoprene wet suits, as well.