Thinking of buying a jet boat and wondering that I often go boating in oceans (far away from the shore) and you are more concerned about whether jet boats do well in oceans or not? So, let’s see whether jet boats are good for using in the ocean (offshore) or not?
Jet boats may not suit well for ocean purposes because they are very light, and the ocean’s harsh weather can make the ride uncomfortable. However, it also depends on the weather; if the weather is right out there, jet boats are probably FINE; otherwise, jet boats result in more bumpy rides.
The main thing to consider here is the weather; if the weather is good (meaning water is not choppy), it’s absolutely FINE to use a jet boat in the ocean without any worries. The experts also say that if you often (most of the time) go boating in the ocean, it’s good to avoid jet boats entirely.
That doesn’t mean that no one uses jet boats for ocean (offshore) purposes. Some percent (not many or not the majority) of the people will use jet boats in the ocean. Since these boats are built for speed, performance, and easy maintenance, they are a pretty good compromise of speed + comfort.
If you want to go out fishing in most conditions, this is not your boat. If you want to take your family out for a day on the water, these boats are worthy of consideration. And if you are a beginner (new to boating) and like to use it often in the ocean, better don’t go for jet boats.
Whether or not you will survive an open sea crossing on a jet boat can depend on sea conditions and fuel supply. If the weather is good and you have enough or more fuel, you will probably do FINE in the ocean. If the water gets choppy, it may become a more uncomfortable ride.
Related post – Check my article on Are jet boats safe or dangerous (link opens in a new tab) to know statistically whether jet boats are safe or dangerous, along with some safety tips.
Some problems of using a jet boat in the ocean
We will now see some of the problems of using jet boats in the ocean. The problems listed below are some of the most common problems that a jet boat can face in the ocean.
- Jet boats burn 30% more fuel, which can be a problem for long rides in the ocean.
- Jet boats have low bows and can take water easily if the water in the ocean is choppy.
- Jet boats give you a harsher ride in choppy waters.
- Jet boats can suck in seaweeds or any waste.
- Jet boats have less efficiency than other boats, so that can hold you back in the ocean.
- Corrosion problems.
Those are some of the significant problems of using a jet boat in the ocean. The surprising thing to note here is you can avoid the majority (half) of the problems by avoiding boating in harsh weather. That being said, we will now see all those problems in a detailed way.
1. Jet boats burn 30% more fuel, which can be a problem for long rides in the ocean
Before starting, that 30% of more fuel consumption is an average value, and it can depend on the weather as well. If you go boating in rough or choppy waters, the boat can consume more fuel than usual 30%, and if you go boating in calm waters, it will not consume much fuel compared to in choppy waters.
Since you go boating in the ocean, which means you will be going miles away from the shore, so on a safe side, having enough fuel on the boat is crucial. But jet boats will consume 30% more fuel than a prop engine boat, which can empty up the gas tank quickly than a prop engine boat.
You will burn more fuel going from A to B with a jet drive than the same boat and engine with a standard prop. Due to less efficiency of the jet boat, it can consume more fuel than other boats. But if you have a big fuel tank, it won’t be an issue for you at all.
That can be problematic for you long halibut and tuna runs (30 miles each way), and you may need to take extra gas with you. If you want to go out fishing in most conditions, this is not your boat. If you want to take your family out for a day on the water, these boats are worthy of consideration.
2. Jet boats have low bows and can take water easily if the water in the ocean is choppy
The gunwale (the upper edge or planking of the side of a boat or ship) of a jet boat is very low in height, which can take the water easily if any big wave hits the boat. And many of the ski lockers can also take on water (rain or wave) from the deck easily. If you are going in rough waters (bad weather), it can be a little problem.
Most probably, you can’t avoid that water getting in the boat due to low gunwale height. Every boat can take water, but the jet boats take more water due to low bows (gunwale height). So, you need to be prepared for that well in advance if you are going in the ocean on a jet boat.
And one more problem that comes along with it is bilge pump inefficiency. Bilge pumps on average can pump roughly 1000 gph (average value); if a vast quantity of water gets inside the boat, they need to be pumped out more quickly to reduce the risk of danger and to decrease the weight.
It is absolutely FINE if you have a big one that pumps out at 3000 gph or more, but if you have a small one, it may not be able to pump enough water out of the boat on time, so that can increase the boat’s weight and it also requires more power to move the boat (since the weight is increased).
So, better install a big bilge pump on a boat if you often go boating in the ocean (offshore) to reduce fuel consumption (since an increase in the boat’s weight requires more power to move in the water, that increases fuel consumption) and to mainly reduce the risk of danger as well.
3. Jet boats give you a harsher ride in choppy waters
Generally, every boat gives some bumpy rides in the rough waters (oceans), but with jet boats, those bumps increase slightly due to very lightweight in nature. Since these boats are built for speed, performance, and easy maintenance, they are a pretty good compromise of comfortable ride + speed.
Jet boats are less comfortable than other boats in rough or choppy waters. However, the only exception can be in calm waters. But Generally, that won’t be the case in the ocean (calm waters in the ocean); ocean waters tend to be more choppy compared to the water in the lakes or ponds.
And if there is any change in the weather, it can turn the whole ride into a bumpy ride down the line until you reach the shore. Since these boats are very light in weight compared to other boats, the conditions can get bad on a windy day.
But these boats will make it thru these conditions, but if you want to fish or hang out in the boat during these conditions, this boat is simply not the right boat for you. The flatter hull design can slap the water every time if there are any swells, which won’t be comfortable for many people.
So, if you want a comfortable ride, this shouldn’t be your pick since most probably, jet boats may lack a comfortable ride in rough waters (oceans). Other than boating in choppy waters, jet boats are absolutely FINE in calm waters. So, check the weather prior to avoid choppy waters.
4. Jet boats can suck in seaweeds or any waste
Generally, this can be a serious issue if you boat in seaweed or seagrass areas; otherwise, you need not worry about this. Since a jetboat draws the water from under the boat through an intake and into a jet pump inside the boat, before expelling it through a nozzle at the stern, if there is any seaweed or seagrass on the way, it will suck that along with the water.
The jetboat’s fuel efficiency and performance can be affected by anything that disrupts water’s smooth flow through the jet unit. Not only the grass or weeds, if any plastic bag sucked onto the jet unit’s intake grill can have quite an adverse effect.
So, if you often go boating in more seaweed or seagrass areas (especially in shallow waters, the depth will be low and can easily pick up the things from the ground), the jets can suck that, and it can create problems. Sometimes, it can turn into a serious problem.
And people say that jet boats are excellent for shallow water uses, yes it is absolutely correct. But if there are any weeds or grass down the water, the impeller can suck that easily and creates a mess all the time. Generally, this won’t be an issue if you avoid boating in seagrass or seaweed areas.
5. Jet boats have less efficiency than other boats, so that can hold you back in the ocean
Another major disadvantage of jet boats is that they are more sensitive to engine mismatch compared to an engine mismatch in the propeller-driven craft. If the jet-propulsion unit is not well-matched to the engine performance, inefficient fuel consumption and poor performance can result.
Due to that drawback, jet boats have much lower efficiency than other boats. The trade-off of having a protected propeller-driven engine is about a 30% increase in engine efficiency. And it roughly takes a 150 HP jet engine to equal a 115 HP propeller engine.
Jet boats generate about 30% less HP at the water nozzle than the same engine will at the prop. In addition to that 30% less hp, it also uses 30% more fuel than normal propeller boats, which can be a problem for long rides in the ocean. The best possible solution to avoid that is by having a large fuel tank installed.
But for occasional trips on the right day (with good weather), not a big deal, jet boats do well. Generally, every boat gives some bumpy rides in the rough waters (oceans), but with jet boats, those bumps increase slightly due to very lightweight in nature.
6. Corrosion problems
Do you know? Saltwater corrodes metals 5 times faster than freshwater. Since oceans contain salt water, it can corrode the boat metals parts quickly than other waters. So, it would help if you took appropriate measures to prevent corrosion problems prior.
However, it is impossible to avoid corrosion altogether, but it is possible to prolong the process with the proper maintenance precautions such as washing the boat and flushing the engine with fresh water after every ride, bottom painting it, etc.
Saltwater affects the boat more than any other waters. Not only the corrosion problems, but it also fads out bottom paint quickly (if any), damages electrical hardware, damages anchor and anchor line, etc. It is essential to take appropriate measures prior if you often go boating in the ocean.
Related post – Check my article on Is saltwater bad for jet boats (link opens in a new tab) to know some of the essential things to do to prevent corrosion on jet boats.
A simple solution to avoid half of those problems
The best way to avoid all those problems (half of those problems) of using a jet boat in the ocean is by not boating in bad weather (choppy waters). Boating in the calm waters results in low bumpy rides, won’t consume much fuel than in choppy waters, and won’t take much water due to low bows than in choppy waters.
Half of the problems will get eliminated if you avoid choppy waters (bad or harsh weather). You can avoid choppy waters (bad weather) by checking the weather before starting the trip. However, before starting the trip, the weather can be fine, but it can change after starting the trip.
And also, constantly checking the weather while boating using VHF radio or something is also an essential thing to do. If they report any bad weather symptoms, you can quickly get back to the shore, avoiding half of the problem. But the weather has nothing to do with grass or weeds problems, corrosion, and engine inefficiency.
Apart from those three problems (grass sucking by jets, corrosion, and engine inefficiency), jet boats are good if you go for occasional trips in the ocean on the right day, not a big deal. But, if you often (most of the time) go boating in the ocean for fishing, better completely avoid these boats.
Related post – Check my article on Safety tips for boating offshore (link opens in a new tab) to know some essential safety tips to make your ride out there safer in oceans or seas.
Jet boats may not perform well in the ocean, but if you go for occasional trips in the ocean on the right day (on good weather days), nothing to worry about. But if you often go fishing in the ocean throughout the year or season, better avoid purchasing these boats.
Due to more fuel consumption and less efficiency, these boats consume more money than normal boats. So, boating throughout the season or year in the ocean is like simply leaving the money on the table for nothing. In addition to that, it gives bumpy rides and takes in more water due to low bows.
So, maybe once or twice a week on a good day is fine for occasional purposes, but more than that, it can create problems, and it also consumes more money in the form of more fuel consumption and less efficiency. And sometimes, additional problems of sucking grass or weeds by the impeller.
Jet boats may only worth it if you usually run in water less than 5 – 8 feet deep and make short runs due to the lousy fuel economy. If you are running a 21-24 ft boat, you won’t spend most of your time running that shallow. Not saying not to get one, just some real-time info. It is a blast to drive, though!