How to Get Back on a Jet Ski After Falling Off… Do They Come Back?

How to Get Back on a Jet Ski After Falling Off

As a first-time jet skier, I completely understand why you will have some trepidation. But I wanted to put your mind at ease about whether the jet ski will come back to you should you fall off, who wants to be stranded in the sea! I also wanted to talk about how you get back on and return to the jet ski, plus a little first-hand experience on how it feels to fall off.

In this guide I will start off by explaining how to re-board a personal watercraft and get back on a jet ski. Following that you can find out whether jet skis actually turn around and come back to you after a fall – plus how much it hurts right at the end.

How to get back on a jet ski after falling off

Not everyone will fall off their jet ski, but it can happen. The key here is to not panic, remain calm, and always swim back to the jet ski from the rear.

Here’s how you get back on the jet ski after falling off into the water.

  1. Return back to the jet ski by swimming calmly, making sure you paddle towards the back of the personal watercraft. Approaching from the back is always the best and easiest way as it will keep the jet ski stable, so it won’t start to tip or capsize.
  2. Place two hands flat on the back of the jet ski (the stern) or use handles if the jet ski has grips like this.
  3. Now pull yourself up. It’s very similar to how you might climb out of a swimming pool. You use exactly the same action.
  4. Step over the seat, sit yourself back down, gather your composure, and start the jet ski up again.

For people without the upper body strength to pull themselves back up onto the jet ski after falling off, you can get rope ladders that attach to the rear. Talk to your jet ski hire company about these.

If your jet ski does capsize, they are easy to flip back over.

Above all, please relax and stay calm. If you start to panic, you will find it harder to get back on the jet ski.

How do you return to a jet ski after falling off?

Most of the time, you will be in close proximity to the jet ski and should not have too far to return to it. Bear in mind you will be wearing a US Coast Guard approved life jacket, so will be able to swim or paddle back to the jet ski in just a few seconds.

jet ski usage hours
Returning to a jet ski is simple enough, but don’t expect it to come back to you.

When you fall off the jet ski the power will cut as you will no longer be throttling the engine. That means the jet ski isn’t going to go motoring off without you, but will come to a stop.

Do jet skis turn around when you fall off?

There is a common misconception that jet skis will circle back and turn around to you when you fall off. This isn’t strictly true, but it can happen sometimes.

Do jet skis come back to You if you fall off? Some jet skis are designed to steer to the right when the driver falls off and releases the handlebars. In theory, jet skis can come back to you after a fall, but in most cases it won’t happen. 

Why though?

Well, whilst some jet ski pumps and nozzles are designed to right steer after a fall, you’re going to be lucky for it to turn full circle and coming back to you. There are just far too many variables at play including the speed you fell off, the wind, drift, and waves.

No jet ski in the world is designed to know where the fallen rider is in the water, so jet skis will not come back to you after you fall off unless you’re very lucky.

Here’s what a jet skier said on an online forum about when asked if his jet ski came back to him after falling off:

“Mine doesn’t drift to the right. At the speeds I am going mine will continue to travel for about 300 feet before it stops. It just goes straight. When I fall off the lanyard kills the engine, so I get no circular return.”

Does falling off a jet ski hurt?

Jet ski speeds can reach as high as 65 miles per hour (you see some top speeds here). As you can probably imagine, falling off a jet ski at those kinds of speeds can hurt a lot, and in some cases could be even fatal if it involves a collision.

However, as a first-time jet skier on vacation, it’s unlikely you will be given a jet ski of that power and will probably only be driving at top speeds of 40 miles per hour tops.

Having spoken with an experienced jet skier, this is what they told me about how falling off a jet ski can hurt.

“I’ve landed face first off a jet ski driving 40 miles per hour, and it hurt a lot. Lesson was definitely learned there! What I do is roll up into a ball, tucking my arms and legs in. Coming off a jet ski that way doesn’t hurt, well it doesn’t me anyway!”

The most common types of jet ski injuries include:

  • Head or spinal injuries: hitting the water at speed can cause serious head trauma.
  • Broken limbs: arms, wrists and legs can be broken or sprained when break a fall.
  • Burns: can occur if the jet ski engine ignites.
  • Whiplash: hitting water at speed can also cause whiplash injuries.

The bottom line is; yes, it might hurt if you fall off a jet ski. But providing you aren’t going too fast and are driving responsibility you should be able to reduce the chance of injury.

Handy Hint: When driving a jet ski, don’t hold on too tight with your hands. Use a more relaxed grip instead and you will reduce how much your hands and limbs hurt or feel sore after the jet skiing trip.


I hope this has given you a degree of confidence on how to get back on a jet ski after a fall. Whilst it’s unlikely that the jet ski will come back to you, returning to it and getting back on is actually very easy.

Please don’t panic, you are going to love jet skiing I promise you. The hire company will give you a full training and safety brief before you go.

If you are planning on this activity soon, you might also like these other jet ski guides I wrote recently:

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