Jet SkiBoats aren’t for everybody. Some folks just don’t have the space, cash or ambition that’s required of a full size watercraft. Enter the jet ski, or for the sake of correct terminology, “personal watercraft.” Who do we have to thank for these miniature boats? Glad you asked.

Clayton Jacobsen is widely accredited with the invention of the personal watercraft due to his major role in the development of Kawasaki’s line in the early ‘70s. As Kawasaki revved up production of both stand up and sit down models, other companies like Yamaha jumped on board, giving lake lovers a vast selection of motorized ways to get out on the water without a boat.

Fast forward to today and it seems like most of the personal watercraft out on the lake are about the size of a boat, with some comfortably seating 3 full grown humans. However, that doesn’t mean everyone’s rockin’ a new ski. No matter what your budget, taste or skill level is, there’s a ski to fit the bill.

Stand Ups: Two years ago my husband dragged me to a stranger’s garage to see about buying a jet ski. He forgot to mention it was a stand up that looked like Cindy Lauper had just rode in on from 1982. However, unbeknownst to me, there are apparently a good number of folks with a major interest in “vintage,” If you will, stand ups.

These skis provide a platform for riders to stand on once they get the thing up to speed, with tall handles and lots of capabilities. Although I automatically associate stand ups with old school riding (and my husband’s odd taste in hobbies,) they’re also widely used for competition riding and unbelievable stunts.

New stand ups  retail for upwards of $6,000, however if you’re in the market, check out online auctions and sale sites where you can nab a beauty like my hubby’s for around $800.

Sit Downs: After my husband bought himself a blast from the past that I knew I wasn’t coordinated enough to ever ride, we decided I also needed a lake toy and invested in a Yamaha sit down ski. Mine was at least 10 years newer, however there was no escaping the early ‘90’s graphic scheme. What ever happened to splatter paint? I digress.

Sit down skis are far more popular in today’s marketplace among personal watercraft enthusiasts. Available in 2, 3, or 4 person models (4 person?! That may as well be a boat for pete’s sake), the price range on new, large personal watercraft can reach into the $10,000 range. However, if you like quick turns in the water and lots of wind in your face, they’re a fun investment.

Or, buy yourself a 1992 Wave Raider for about a grand (yes, it was really called a “Wave Raider”) and you can experience the same level of awesome as I did.

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