A weekly column by Catherine Dugan. This week: Take a Ride on a Jet Ski.
Cape May is a peaceful town, perfect for slow walks, leisurely bike rides, and naps on the beach. All of these are crucial elements of a summer getaway, but none are likely to inspire whoops of delight. We needed some excitement. They say people who share an exciting experience form a deep connection, and since family vacations are all about connection, we decided to inject some adrenaline into our relaxing Cape May vacation with a jet ski excursion.
Jet skis are personal watercraft – basically, small speedboats. “Jet Ski” is the brand name of the first widely available personal watercraft, introduced in the 1970s by Kawasaki as a “safe but thrilling” form of boating. You may actually be riding a WaveRunner or a SeaDoo. Invented by Clayton Jacobson, jet skis were inspired by motorbikes and snowmobiles. Although they are used primarily for recreation, modified jet skis are also used by lifeguards, law enforcement, and – thanks to improved noise and emission controls – by wildlife officials. Rentals are available at East Coast Parasail at Utsch’s Marina in Cape May, at Cape Jet Ski on Ocean Drive, on the way into Wildwood, and at other facilities around the Jersey Cape.
Generally, renters must be over 21, and all drivers must present a valid driver’s license. You do not need a boat license to rent a jet ski, but you must ride within a marked course in the company of a licensed guide (it is customary to tip the guide). Liability waivers and lifejackets are required. Passengers must be at least 42 inches tall. Rates are around $65 per half-hour – which is plenty of time – with a small additional fee for each passenger.
Driving a jet ski is just tricky enough to be exciting. It feels like riding a motorbike on the water – you sit or stand on the jet ski and passengers ride behind, holding on to a strap or to the driver. The guide gives you a brief lesson, and by the time you motor out to the course at the no-wake speed, you’ll have the hang of it. Speed demons may chafe at the restrictions, but you can have a lot of fun within the large marked course. With bare feet, the wind in your hair and the salt spray in your face, you’ll feel free and wild. Even if you start out nervous (talk of the “dead man’s switch,” which cuts the engine if you fall, may add to your jitters), you’ll end up laughing, and yes, whooping it up a little.
Adrenaline is a bonding agent. Bond with your family by trying out a jet ski!
Next week: Miniature Golf