Ultimate Guide to Jet Boats

If you are looking for a boat with some serious racing qualities and the one you can easily turn into a weekend jaunt from a racing watercraft, then a jet boat is what you are looking for. A jet boat is a perfect solution for your everyday ventures without compromising the luxury. The unexposed outdrive of a jet boat gives a lot of opportunity for entertainment like waterskiing, racing, and other water sports.

During one of my visit to Riggings, Idaho in April, I had the most blasting experience any jet ski racer can think of. Every year during the third week of April the little canyon town holds a legendary racing event called “The Salmon River Jet Boat Race.” For many decades the churning whitewater of Salmon River has been giving the jet boat racers a run for their money. After coming back from this legendary racing event, all I can think of is how amazing a jet boat is for racing purpose and of course for other entertainment jaunts.

Nothing would have given me more pleasure than to talk about this wild weekend of racing actions. But the more pressing matter at hand is how beneficial a jet boat is for racing and other everyday ventures.

What are the advantages of a jet boat?

In many cases, a jet boat is more useful as a personal watercraft over a tradition stern drive. A jet boat has many advantages to offer depending on where you want to boat and what purpose the boat will serve. Let me give you an overall summary of how a jet boat will be more beneficial for you than a tradition stern drive.

Interior space:

The difference between how the jet boat used to be in the past and how they are now is quite visible. If you look at any modern day jet boat, you will notice the change right away. The inside of the cockpit is quite spacious than how they used to be in the past. It is because how the motors are inserted now. They don’t require a large sun pad anymore. As they are inserted way lower and further back than they used to be before, you will be able to extend the cockpit up to 12 – 18’’ longer than you could in any similar sized stern drive. The modern days’ 22’ jet boat has the potential of fitting the interior space of a 24’ stern drive.


The modern jet boats are the first choice for any parents with small children. Jet boats aren’t made with an exterior propeller. So there’s no chance of having anything exposed behind the back. That means you don’t have to worry about any potential accidents related to spinning prop. But why should that mean you don’t have to be careful? You should never have anyone in the water while the boat is running. You can endure an accident even without the motor running the prop. Sometimes the outdrive can get in the way while swimming or driving. So you have to be careful. But as nothing is exposed behind the jet boat, you will have less chance of enduring an accident than with any other boats.

Shallow Draft:

As I already mentioned before, a jet boat does not have a outdrive or driveshaft. So there is no chance of anything hanging down below the jet boat. This gives the jet boat an opportunity to operate even in as little as 12” space of water or even less. But one must remember that this is not recommended. That’s why if you ride through a lake that is shallow or full of stumps then a jet boat is the perfect solution for you.


When it comes to having top-speed, jet boats are the perfect example. No other boat can match the turning ability and quick acceleration of a jet boat although this may depend on the engine setup and horsepower rating.

Water Surfing:

Not having a prop or outdrive sticking out behind the jet boat opens endless opportunities for sports lovers. There’s a new trend in the world of watersport among the surfers. That is “Wakesurfing.” The idea is that the surfers will use the wake behind the boat to push the small surfboard they are surfing on without involving rope. Now Wakesurfing has become so popular among the surfers that they are choosing Wakesurfing over skiing. This wouldn’t have been possible if the boat had any exposed outdrive or prop. Inboard boat, jet boat, and the new Volvo FFD are the safest option and the best choice for watersports or Wakesurfing.

What are the factors you need to consider before buying the perfect jet boat for you?

When it comes to buying a jet boat, the first thing you have to consider is what you will be using the boat for? What will be its purpose and will your selected boat meet all your requirements?

It’s quite easy to be overwhelmed by the vast variety of boat types, models, sizes, prices, and many more. But there are some factors you cannot overrule while buying a jet boat. The factors mentioned below should give you some basic ideas on how to prepare yourself for buying a jet boat and how to select the right jet boat for you.


Before buying a jet boat, the first thing you have to decide is how much money you are willing to invest in it. Your budget for the jet will decide the type of boat or the size and additional features you can afford. Many people organize boat finance approval in advance so they can know exactly how much they would have to pay and can also take the advantage being ready when they find the right kind of jet boat for them. Pre-owned jet boats always cost less than any new-model jet boats. So if you are tight on the budget, then you should consider this one. Another advantage of pre-owned jet boats is they mostly come with additional features that are added over the years.

Size of your jet boat:

The size of your chosen jet boat is a major decision. Every boat has a maximum capacity. This tells you how many people you can have on board safely. So when you are thinking of buying a jet boat, you have to consider how many people you need to have on board on a regular basis or holidays. Another factor that decides the size of your jet boat is where you boat and your budget. Other amenities that you need to consider when buying a jet boat are bathroom facilities, cooking area, and sleeping space. You might think getting a bigger jet boat will solve all your problems, but it’s not always the case. Before getting a bigger jet boat, you need to take into consideration whether you can captain that big boat or not.

Where you plan to boat:

A boat is always equipped with the equipment and hull suited to where you will be taking your boat. You might have to take your jet boat to the lake, river, estuary, harbor or ocean. What is suited for open water will be hard to navigate it down the river. And if you are just planning to use your jet boat for fishing in the local river and estuary, then you will need to get a different type of jet boat than the one you were planning to use for boat racing. But mostly jet boats are used to travel quickly, navigate in a narrow river or a lake, and for other entertainment purposes. So make sure you buy a jet boat that suits your purpose.

Check the engine capacity:

The capacity of your jet engine will be decided by what you will use it for. Most jet boaters use their boat for water skiing. So they expect their jet boat to have the maximum power. But as I have already mentioned the most powerful engine of the jet boat uses maximum fuel. So it’s not always efficient. But now we can easily buy the new-tech engines that are fuel efficient and environment-friendly.

Storing your jet boat:

One of the things that every buyer forget to take into consideration is where they will store their jet boat. But it’s one of the essential parts. This will decide the size of your jet boat, and you will also have to consider if your car can tow the heavyweight in case of storing the boat at your home. But mooring the jet boat locally at your nearest marina is usually the best option. Most of the marina offers secured moorings at an affordable cost. This gives you the opportunity to simply walk off and on to where your jet boat is moored and not to take the trouble of transporting your boat to the coastline every time you want to use it.

Get help from the expert:

It’s never a bad idea to talk to an expert before buying a jet boat. They can offer the right information about what’s more fuel efficient, what type of engine will work for you the best, and how to afford the best jet boat at an affordable price. They can also introduce you to your local boat broker or boat dealer who can show you the jet boat that meets your requirements.

What do you need to avoid while shopping for a jet boat?

Even though a jet boat is more useful to most people who want to possess a personal watercraft, it still may have some features that are considered to be a disadvantage to some people.

Here are a few things to pay attention to while you are shopping for a jet boat:

How much fuel does the jet boat consume?

Jet boats are faster than any other water vehicle. Even though we take this as an advantage, this may not always be the same case. As they are the faster watercraft, they are also the most fuel consumers. This happens because they run at a higher RPMs than the stern drive counterparts. So this also labels the jet boat as less efficient boat among others. But the fuel consumption doesn’t always depend on the RPM number. If you compare a single engine of a 300HP stern drive to a double engine jet boat of 500HP, then you will notice that the difference is quite marginal. The double engine jet boat only uses 6-8% more fuel than the single engine. So my suggestion is always to take the advice from a manufacturer.

Check maneuverability:

Not all jet boats are built the same way. Especially when it comes to turning system almost all jet boats are considered to have the best turning system, but it’s not always the same case. In this case, it’s always a better idea to go for a test drive or get help from the professional.

Avoid noisier jet boats:

It’s no surprise that jet boats are noisier than any other boat because of the engine they use. Having a higher RPM number is also another reason for the engine to be noisier than their stern drive counterparts. To reduce the noise of jet boats, the sound has to be stopped before it can escape the engine compartment. The noise of a jet boat is high pitched than a stern drive. The stern drive’s noise is deeper and lower. So next time you are shopping for a jet boat, make sure the jet boat has some features that will take care of that disadvantage.

What do you need to look for if you are getting ready to buy a used jet boat?

There are thousands of things you should be paying attention to while buying a used boat, and jet boats are no exception. So before meeting your bat broker, do your research. You can gather information from the internet or by consulting an expert. Do whatever suits you the best.

Here’a simple guide about buying a second-hand boat and the rules you have to follow:

Hull or overall condition:

When buying a used jet boat, the overall hull condition is very important to take into consideration. You will have to check the built quality and the amount of reinforcement in the hull. This is more important to the buyers who intend to use the jet boat in the skinny lake or rocky water, especially if you are using it for hunting.

Other things to look for are:

Any obvious dents or dings, especially small dents or dings that might run down to the side of the jet boat.

Always check the condition of the floor and stringers.

Look for cracks in the seams or welds and the degree of the hull’s deadrise.

Hull protection:

The protection of a jet boat is built to be slippery and reduce friction. This is to effortlessly glide over the rocky water and skirt through really shallow rocky channels. The hull protection is mainly to glide over the obstacles in the water and to provide minor protection to the hull.

Today the most common materials for coating is Ultra High Molecular Weight plastic or in short UHMW. People use it with varying thickness and is lagged or bolted to the hull of the boat. Over the years, these bolts get bent or shifted and thus elongates the hole through the hull. So make sure to check for these as they might lead to water leakage.

Engine or pump:

It’s not easy to do an engine or pump inspection. But a little research can help you to make an educative choice now and save you from tons of trouble in the long run. You can know a great deal from the hours on the engine and the overall condition of the exterior of it. Let’s say the hour motor is covered in dirt, oil, and grease. So what does it say? A dirty and oily marine engine screams that the jet boat may not be in overall good condition. So it’s a good idea not to buy from that seller.

Here’s a list of the basic things about the engine you have to inspect while buying a second-hand jet boat:

Get your local mechanic to do a compression test on the engine and to find out what is the acceptable compression should each cylinder contain.

A leak down test is a must to find out more about the overall condition of the exhaust or intake valves and piston rings.

Check the fuel filter, oil or any other fluids.

Inspect the condition of the belts, wiring and water separator.

Last but not least, listen to the engine run and especially during the sea trial.

Electrical System:

The indicator of a good jet boat is probably a well-maintained electrical system of that boat. Always avoid buying a used jet boat that has a rat’s nest of wiring or worse, a badly corroded wiring system. But if you enjoy repairing work, then I guess you don’t have to pay much heed to this. Most jet boat owners don’t use their boat in the saltwater environment. The salt water can be really harsh to the electrical components and exposed wiring conditions of the boat.

Other basic things to pay attention to while buying a used jet boat are:

Wiring terminations. Are they clean and tidy?

Is there any corrosion on the terminals or in the engine bay?

What type of battery the jet boat uses? Or how old is the battery?

Check the charging system. It needs to be in well-maintained conditioned and operational.

Over the years, jet boats have become one of the quickest growing segments in the marine industry. There are thousands of reasons why a jet boat is a real catch over any other traditional stern drive. In my article, I only tried to cover the big ones that may work as a deciding factor for choosing a jet boat for your everyday purpose or especially for racing and other entertainments. So do yourself a favor and check out some new model of the jet boat before getting yourself a traditional outdrive or stern drive.

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