Kawasaki Jet Ski Service
Comedian Bill Hicks once said, "Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy a jet ski, and you never see an unhappy person riding a jet ski." Mr. Hicks, and most of those who have copied his quote since, never saw someone ride Kawasaki's new 310-horsepower jet ski, the Ultra 310. The rider of this brutish machine may be having fun, but that person, particularly if he or she is a rookie personal water craft pilot, will also be terrified.
(Full disclosure: Kawasaki wanted me to try their jet ski so bad, they flew me down to the Florida Keys, wined and dined me, and tried not to laugh too hard as I flew by on an Ultra 310R, grim-faced and hanging on for dear life with a white-knuckled death grip, at nearly 70 miles per hour.)
Kawasaki had two different types of jet skis on hand in Duck Key, Fla. last week – the Ultra 310LX and the Ultra 310R. The LX had cool things like adjustable handlebars, a stereo system with a waterproof memory stick tube in the console and a seat made from special material that doesn't get insanely hot when the ski is sitting out in the sun on a blazing summer day. The R model is set up for racing, and has dirt bike handlebars that Kawasaki says provide tighter steering control. It doesn't have a stereo, but when you're going faster than about 40 mph, it's impossible to hear the speakers anyway.
Before last week, I had never driven or even ridden on a jet ski. Sure, I used to pilot small boats for a living, but the most robust among them was 21 feet long and had a pair of 110-horsepower Mercury outboards to propel the boat, two or three people, and a bunch of depth-sounding equipment. Kawasaki's 310 series jet skis are the maritime equivalent of wearing a rocket pack on a pair of roller skates; also similar to buying a 750 cc Honda as your first motorcycle (which I foolishly did).
As a surfer, veteran ocean lifeguard and all-around beach guy, I'm pretty well acquainted with the ocean and its characteristics. But before hopping on the back of a 310, my experience had thus far been limited to the speed my arms could make me travel. Add a liquid-cooled 310-horsepower supercharged 1.5-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine into the mix – which is good for a motorcycle, but would also serve most mid-size cars just fine – and the amount of time required to respond to those conditions compresses into an interval much more brief than most peoples' brains are equipped to process, mine included.
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