Personal Watercraft: From Water Scooter to Jet Ski

Almost everyone knows what a Jet Ski is, but have you ever heard of a water scooter? We didn’t think so! 

From Water Scooter To Jet Ski

The idea for the first personal watercraft, originally designed to be a one-person recreational vehicle, emerged in 1950s Europe under the term “water scooter.”

These leisure vehicles weren’t exactly popular in their early years, leaving their designers to toy with the idea for almost a decade before getting it right. It was Australian Clayton Jacobson II who designed the first standing version of the machine in the 1960s, but with a revolutionary twist: he traded the traditional outboard motor for a more efficient pump-jet. Thus, the personal watercraft we have come to know by the name Jet Ski came to life!

These small, self-powered vehicles went through a number of changes over the years, and was even the center of a  lawsuit over the rights to who created it. Kawasaki, the prolific Japanese vehicle producer, finally surfaced as the victor, releasing the first stand-up personal watercraft available on the market and claiming the rights to the term Jet Ski. Though Jacobsen was compensated for his idea in lieu of a lawsuit, the vehicle manufacturing tycoon continues to use the name today. The name Jet Ski is widely used to describe crafts of the same type, but the moniker remains trademarked specifically to its parent company. Other vehicle manufacturers eventually produced numerous similar vehicles under their own trademarks, but “Jet Ski” really stuck with consumers, much like Kleenex has laid claim to facial tissue.

Summer Staple

Some 20 million Americans use personal watercraft every year. Is it even summer if you’re not cruising the nearest body of water aboard one of these iconic leisure vehicles? Though sales of the personal watercraft have had their ups and downs, it’s clear that their influence in the recreational world of water sports is still prominent. 

There are tons of makes, models, and types of personal watercraft available on the market. A large number of those sold are multi-person vehicles that make them suitable for up to three people, without having to spend the big bucks on separate crafts. Among those available, some come with advanced technology that makes them (somehow) even more fun to own. One such craft is the Gibbs Quadski, so-named for its unique ability to convert from a four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle into a personal watercraft of the same power! With the touch of a button, the wheels retract into the body, leaving you with a fully amphibious vehicle that goes 45 mph, on land or at sea. While it isn’t exactly a revolutionary concept, owning one of these versatile toys can open the door to new, exciting vacation possibilities.

Evolution and Improvements

The evolution of the modern personal watercraft transformed it from a standing, one-person craft into a multi-person, recreational vehicle. More power and streamlined bodywork made these crafts easier to control and even less dangerous than boats, and environmental consciousness brought them into the present where electric motors reign supreme. Consumers’ desires for a more environmentally friendly watercraft contributed to the production of more efficient jet-propelled vehicles. Additionally, due to its thorough evolution, the craft has significantly improved its emissions ratings over the years, leading it to be one of the more environmentally-friendly recreational watercraft available!

StrandCraft V8 Wet Rod

If you’re in the business of extreme luxury, the StrandCraft V8 Wet Rod is the model for you! This ultra-lavish, celebrity-quality personal watercraft is not only super powerful, but it’s all about living fast and loose. The V8 Wet Rod is capable of achieving speeds of up to 65 mph and has a powerful 300 horsepower engine that will bring out the racer in anyone. The whopping $49,000 bottom-dollar price tag might have you reeling, but the luxury craft’s speed and design make up for it in spades. 

Explore the Underwater World on a Sea Scooter

Also known as “underwater scooters,” the sea scooter will have you zipping around underwater like you’re on a jet ski!

What is it? 

The sea scooter is a SCUBA diver’s luxury vehicle! Also called a Dive Propulsion Vehicle (DPV,) as an underwater mode of transportation, there are a number of different options.

More personal and portable scooters are simply a torpedo-shaped motor that divers hold onto with both hands as it propels you through the water. Divers use these to cover more area faster either for recreational or working purposes. Indeed, there is a need for SCUBA divers as an occupation. When a person is diving for a living, it often requires rapid travel underwater. The ability to move quickly is a huge advantage for those types of divers. 

Non-SCUBA Options

There are some other really cool options for those that want to ride a sea scooter, but have no SCUBA experience. A video presented by the YouTube channel Oddity Mall showed that there are underwater scooters with a breathing chamber that let you ride approximately 15 feet underwater. These scooters look very much like actual street scooters but include an oversized helmet that allows you to breathe freely underwater.

These vehicles are very expensive and not typically an impulse buy for private use. To meet the demand, they are often found in major diving destinations for rental and group tours. 

Sea Scooter History

The Diving Almanac identified that the first Dive Propulsion Vehicle was “The Torpille” in 1952 by Dimitri Rebikoff from France. But the sea scooter as we know it today was first called the Aqua Scooter. The story, according to H.I. Sutton, is that an East German chemical engineer named Bernd Boettger created the scooter as a way to flee East Germany to get across the Baltic Sea to Denmark.

This daring escape plan made the sea scooter an instrument of necessity that has evolved into many different options from recreational to professional. It has become a huge hit though in the recreational diving market because it can allow a diver to see more underwater, getting more mileage out of your air tank—literally! 

Options in Sea Scooters

The price point for a sea scooter has a very wide range. How deep do you want to go? How fast do you want to go? What additional features do you want it to include? These are all pressing questions that have a range of answers. You can get sea scooters rated to a more shallow depth that travels only a few miles per hour at a very reasonable cost. Many scooters also include a camera mount, so you can do a little cinematography while you explore the underwater landscape.

The amount of time you get on one run is also another consideration. While you won’t be underwater for hours on end anyway, you want to make sure that your battery won’t give out on you mid-trip. Professional quality sea scooters will take you to much greater depths at faster speeds. These are not at all cheap, but then again are not necessary for recreational divers.

People have always wanted to see what life is like underwater. SCUBA allows this, but sea scooters provide an opportunity to see and do more of this beautiful world. The functionality of sea scooters has come so far over the years with options for virtually any budget and certainly any level of dive experience.

With options available for people to enjoy without SCUBA experience, the sea scooter has definitely come to a point where everyone can enjoy life among the fish for a little while. 

Surf’s Up: Freedom in the Water

Riding Free

Water sports are always sure to bring fun and enjoyment for all. But if there’s one watercraft that can allow for the greatest of freedom, it’s the surfboard.

Speeding over the curl of that perfect, cresting wave with a mist of blue water on your face is an experience beyond compare, and the surfboard is the instrument that makes it all possible.

peeding over the curl of that perfect, cresting wave with a mist of blue water on your face is an experience beyond compare, and the surfboard is the instrument that makes it all possible.

Like many sports, surfing can be practiced at virtually any age, but in order to excel, the water demands relentless discipline and athleticism. And it’s not without its share of danger. Ask any surfer, and they will say the risk is well worth the reward. This is a code shared among thrillseekers. Central to success is the surfboard itself, and it has quite a tale to tell. 

Surfboard Story

The surfboard is as an open vessel used for play and for sport on the ocean’s ever-changing current. But the roots of the craft have origins dating all the way back to Peruvian ancients, circa 3,000 BC. These early surf crafts were unearthed by archaeological digs in South America, proving that the prototypical surfboards were employed primarily as transportation modes across bodies of water. Civilizations past made use of the native totora reed (or Californian Bullrush) as the raw materials for their inventive floating devices. Imagine the thrill of that first successful float, heralding the expanse of possibilities for travel and trade. In early use, fishermen were likely to have laid prone atop the vessel. At other times, they are thought to have floated in a kneeling position while making use of a long stick of bamboo as a paddling device through the waters.

Around 300 AD, Polynesian settlers arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, and in tow came their rich he’e nalu culture. At this time, surfboards were quite large by today’s standards. They were essentially fashioned into solid, flat wood planks. Frequently used for fun, these early crafts also played a role in ceremony, training for rulers, and as a means to resolve disputes.

Over the next sixteen hundred years, the surfboard’s evolution reached profound advancements. In the early 20th century, surfing gained mass popularity following the annex of Hawaii by the U.S. government. This fostered an unprecedented growth in surfing culture, and it wouldn’t end there.

Tom Blake introduced the first hollow surfboard, rocking the scene in 1929. This design became the first mass-produced surfboard, and it was picked up by numerous companies. The development of plastics following WWII also changed the game on the open water. A streamlined, big-wave model was introduced to the market in 1950 by George Downing.

The year 1970 saw the advent of Lightning Bolt, whose refined surfboard included none other than a lightning bolt image on deck. This proved to be a stellar business move for the company, as everybody wants to surf in style. In the 90’s, the longboard experienced life anew as lighter, three-finned surfboards became available. 

Shortly after the world entered the 21st century, surfing manufacturers got “on board” with the growing green movement. Using revolutionized bio-friendly materials, these surfboards proved to be a hit among environmentally-savvy surfers. With their playground located within the majesty of the ocean, it’s only natural that surfers embrace this trend.

Daring to Dream

The surfboard’s evolution has allowed for greater and greater advancements in the sport. From humble beginnings as a simple raft to a vehicle for demonstrating incredible athleticism, one thing remains constant: rider, board, and ocean must merge into one. Surfing invites not only an appreciation and awe for the ocean, but for the technological beauty of the surfboard itself.