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  1. #1

    Considering a Yamaha WaveRunner for ocean spearfishing (Hawaii)

    Hey Everyone, I'm new to the PWC forums and I wanted to get people's thoughts on my situation. I'm over in Hawaii, on the Big Island, and I've been thinking about picking up a Yamaha PWC primarily for spearfishing. I have a few questions:

    - How difficult is it to maintain the engine and the craft?
    There is no dealer on my island and barging it back and forth between islands to have it serviced is impractical. I did as much research as I could in the last month, including subscribing to 30 days for the service manual so I could read and learn what's to be done with the servicing intervals. From my readings and talking to friends, it seems straight forward, but thought I'd ask the crowd. I do work on my own vehicles repairing and maintaining them (to the best I can), so I'm comfortable wrenching some. We have a couple local techs that work on PWC's, but frankly I don't trust them after speaking to them and discussing with friends.

    - Does the engine oil type and brand matter?
    I ask because, along with no Yamaha dealer on-island, getting the YamaLube 10W-40 isn't easy. It's all boated in. Would you recommend the oil made for marine over not?

    - How many of you insure your WaveRunner?
    I know this is a more personal question, but holy smoke on the rates. I was quoted $800/yr. FWIW, I won't be launching from a beach. Only ramps. By law, I'm required to stay at minimum 500 ft from shore, so reef damage, if any, would be minimal. Anyway, just looking for thoughts.

    - How does the WaveRunner handle rough water, wind, and swells?
    From the lineup, I'd pick the FX HO. While I don't plan on going out in small craft advisory or bad conditions, weather changes and just need to make it back safe.

    - If I purchase one, I will be taking a dive partner along on the same craft and no other boat or PWC will be with me. How reliably does the WaveRunner start?
    I hope this isn't a stupid question. I know Yamaha's are reliable, but like anything requires maintenance and care, so I get that. How concerned would you be in being stranded someplace?

    - Does fuel consumption change much with another person?
    I'm 160 lb and my partners are about the same weight.

    I do have a larger boat I use for fishing and diving, but the main benefit of a PWC for me would be to access smaller boat ramps that I normally wouldn't launch from.
    The large hesitation I have is with the cost of everything brand new. It would be a large commitment for an activity (that I'm addicted to) and want to know as much as I can.

    While I've ridden on PWC's prior (few times years back), I do not consider myself super familiar using one. I recently got certified to operate one in Hawaii (there's two certifications required here).

    Appreciate everyone's thoughts.
    Last edited by K447; 10-02-2020 at 07:01 PM.


  2. #2

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    I wouldn't hesitate on the Yamaha. only with a N/A 4 cylinder engine. Superchargers can be a little piggy on fuel, but if have the need to 0-60 in a heart beat, go for it. I never been a big fan of manufacturers recommended oils. If Mobil 1 keeps 767s from falling from the sky, it's good enough for your jet ski. After the first 20 hrs. dump the semi synthetic oil and go full synthetic. Pull the dip stick once a month, if it looks dirty, change it. With simple maintenance you can get years of trouble free performance.

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  4. #3
    Not sure why that insurance rate is so high must be because it's Hawaii? Mine is like $300 a year. Main thing is if I bumped into a 100K boat, you'd really want insurance. Anything can happen.

    As long as you keep your Yamaha flushed after each ride, it will last. I would lean towards a FX HO like you were suggesting. The 4 stroke EFI's are very reliable starting, you may want to switch to a AGM Deka battery over the OEM.

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  6. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by seamurph View Post
    I wouldn't hesitate on the Yamaha. only with a N/A 4 cylinder engine. Superchargers can be a little piggy on fuel, but if have the need to 0-60 in a heart beat, go for it. I never been a big fan of manufacturers recommended oils. If Mobil 1 keeps 767s from falling from the sky, it's good enough for your jet ski. After the first 20 hrs. dump the semi synthetic oil and go full synthetic. Pull the dip stick once a month, if it looks dirty, change it. With simple maintenance you can get years of trouble free performance.

    Thanks for the feedback. I've heard through people I know with more than 5K hours on their Yamaha with minimal maintenance (repairing as needed). Not that I'd go that lean on the maintenance, but it's good to hear that they're problem free in general.

    Quote Originally Posted by LivingSlow View Post
    Not sure why that insurance rate is so high must be because it's Hawaii? Mine is like $300 a year. Main thing is if I bumped into a 100K boat, you'd really want insurance. Anything can happen.

    As long as you keep your Yamaha flushed after each ride, it will last. I would lean towards a FX HO like you were suggesting. The 4 stroke EFI's are very reliable starting, you may want to switch to a AGM Deka battery over the OEM.
    The insurance rates are probably because it's Hawaii and the things some people did over the years to drive the prices higher. I've been hearing that most people here don't insure their PWC's, probably because of the cost. But you're right, shit happens. Thanks for the battery recommendation. A thought I also had was to run a second battery and alternate using each. I thought I saw that there was enough room there for two.
    I've been reading people using Salt Away during the flush and Fluid Film for coating everything inside the engine bay to help with the upkeep.

  7. #5
    Click avatar for tech links/info K447's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musubi View Post
    ... subscribing to 30 days for the service manual ...
    Link to this please.

  8. #6
    Click avatar for tech links/info K447's Avatar
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    Welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by musubi View Post
    ..; I'm new to the PWC forums ... in Hawaii, on the Big Island ... Yamaha PWC primarily for spearfishing. ...

    - How difficult is it to maintain the engine and the craft?
    There is no dealer on my island .... I do work on my own vehicles repairing and maintaining them (to the best I can), so I'm comfortable wrenching some...

    - Does the engine oil type and brand matter?
    I ask because, along with no Yamaha dealer on-island, getting the YamaLube 10W-40 isn't easy. It's all boated in. ..
    ...

    - How does the WaveRunner handle rough water, wind, and swells?
    From the lineup, I'd pick the FX HO...

    - ... I will be taking a dive partner along on the same craft and no other boat or PWC will be with me. How reliably does the WaveRunner start?
    ... I know Yamaha's are reliable, but like anything requires maintenance and care, so I get that.
    How concerned would you be in being stranded someplace?

    - Does fuel consumption change much with another person?
    I'm 160 lb and my partners are about the same weight.

    ... The large hesitation I have is with the cost of everything brand new. It would be a large commitment for an activity (that I'm addicted to) and want to know as much as I can.

    While I've ridden on PWC's prior (few times years back), I do not consider myself super familiar using one. I recently got certified to operate one in Hawaii (there's two certifications required here).

    ...
    Lots to discuss. Is there a Seadoo dealer on your island?

    Why are you leaning towards Yamaha over the other two brands?

    If at all possible try to connect with other experienced PWC riders on your island. Perhaps you can rent (or borrow?) a few different models and learn more about how they differ.

    Carrying fishing equipment, plus safety gear, plus anchors + ropes (multiple) plus your swim gear, and sharing the limited on board space with another person. You may discover issues that are not apparent until you are actually doing it.

    There are multiple companies that sell racks for the rear deck. This can carry extra fuel, fishing gear, or whatever. There are different designs and some racks may not be a good fit for some hulls.

    A fellow in New Zealand is making/selling an internal auxiliary fuel tank for the current Yamaha FX. If fuel range is a real concern, internal added fuel capacity is much more convenient than attempting to pour fuel from a portable gas can while on open water.

    Note that the current FX fuel filler cap is quite low on the front side. Not ideal for refueling while bobbing around on the waves.

    Seadoo for years offered only 60 liter fuel tanks on many models. The Seadoo Fish Pro and some of the most recent models have the ‘larger’ 70 liter fuel tank. Yamaha has 70 liter tanks on all the larger model hulls.

    The Seadoo rear deck Linq fuel can option is cute but adds limited additional fuel capacity.

    Kawasaki has the largest capacity internal stock fuel tanks, something like 21 US gallons. The large and heavy Ultra hull is well regarded for rough water capabilities, and the non-supercharged model would be reliable and reasonably fuel efficient (for such a large hull)

    Non-supercharged engines are fairly flexible on oil choices.
    The Yamaha and Seadoo supercharged engines impose specific requirements on the oil to avoid damaging the clutches.

    The current generation of Yamaha FX hull (2019 onwards), judging by initial owner reports, seems to provide a wet ride with lots of water sealing over the bow. This was not a complaint with the FX hull up to 2018. There are aftermarket ride plates for the new FX but so far no feedback on whether it corrects the wet ride problem.

    Also, riding with passenger may change how the new FX hull handles, many of the riders on here mostly ride solo.

    I have the Yamaha GP1800 SVHO. It is a fast machine but the hull (same hull as GP1800 HO, aka VXR) is not intended for rough water distance travel with a passenger.

    Any new PWC brand and model should be reliable, at least initially.

    Unless you are using on board electronics that might drain the battery, they all will start after riding to your open water location. Frequent engine starts and short engine run times are hard on any battery.

    There are ways to fit a larger capacity battery or even a dual battery system if you want to run electrical stuff with the engine off or just want some backup engine start capacity. Compact portable Lithium engine start packs are another option to keep on board.

    For the main starting battery I recommend the Deka AGM batteries for PWC use. No liquid acid, cannot leak, solid starting power.

    I presume you would be carrying a VHF marine radio, should you ever need to call for tow or rescue.

    None of the current models include what I would consider a proper bilge pump, and many have no factory bilge pump at all. I would recommend a high capacity bilge pump (say 1000+ gph) with electronic automatic water sensing, directly connected to (fused) battery power. If water starts coming in, you want it to be going OUT fast, regardless of whether the engine is running or you have even noticed a problem.

    PWC hulls get wobbly quickly if water is accumulating inside, especially with the engine off and a passenger aboard. a good bilge pump may not keep you afloat long term but it can buy you time. Maybe enough time to get closer to shore on engine power, or make some calls for help.

    Emergency planning on a PWC is different than on a large boat where you have time to figure out what is happening and what can be done. On a PWC solutions to problems often need to happen quickly. And sometimes you are in the water swimming shortly after things start going south. Just getting the seat off to see underneath means the passenger may have to go into the water.

    Fuel range will be about the same with passenger on board. The larger factors are speed and water conditions. Rough water will burn more fuel. Plowing along off-plane will burn fuel. Mid-range cruise on plane speeds are where fuel range is optimized. Yamaha (or a third party reviewer) has published fuel consumption and range estimates for varying speeds.

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  10. #7
    Click avatar for tech links/info K447's Avatar
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    My own riding is mostly not ocean, but we are often on unfamiliar waters and some of the lakes here are quite large. In addition to riding experience and the extra equipment we carry, a primary safety factor is that we always take (at least) two PWC. If one PWC were to fail severely or even sink, we still have a ride home on the other machine.

    Sometimes a PWC just needs to be towed back to shore as whatever the problem is is not easily fixed while afloat. So carry a tow rope (I carry several). At shore or back on the trailer many problems can be fixed much more quickly/easier.

    Here is a problem specific to riding a PWC. A small piece of debris sucked into the jet pump can entirely disable the machine, with zero forward thrust. I have had a plastic bottle cap incapacitate my own jet pump, a small stick will do the same. You are not going anywhere until the debris is removed or you are towed.



    Sometimes it is possible to roll the machine upside down in the water and get the thing out. Maybe. But you need to have your extraction tools with you (i carry a set of special tools just for debris extraction). It can be extremely awkward climbing onto the inverted hull and actually getting at whatever is stuck deep inside the jet pump while bobbing in the water. And during this entire time the inverted hull is slowly taking on water, so the clock is ticking ...

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  11. #8
    Thanks a ton K447 for sharing your feedback on my questions. The manual I subscribed to is at: https://yamahapubs.com

    Unfortunately there are no PWC dealers on my island. Kawasaki's website says we do, but we don't. Come to think of it, I haven't seen a Sea-Doo around at all. Only Yamaha's. I searched for a Sea-Doo dealer in Hawaii and I didn't pull up any.

    I had been leaning towards Yamaha because of the reliability I've had (I have a 06' Yamaha ATV that still runs great with little maintenance) and that everyone I know has a Yamaha and has had great reliability with them. I think your suggestion of borrowing one is a great idea. Riding it with the gear and someone on the back would definitely give me a better sense if owning a PWC is right for my use. Like you mentioned, it could also change the way it handles in our waters. The water on my side of the island and where I intend to ride it is typically choppy with swells.

    After reading your post, the larger concerns in my mind are the wet ride and not having another PWC ride along with me. Of course, I'd probably expect a wet ride regardless due to our rainy weather and the choppy seas, but having the newer design more prone to it is something I'll need to think more about. While I do know people with PWC's, their interest is with fishing not spearfishing. For the dive partners I have, expecting them to get a PWC with me is out of the question. I'll give Kawasaki a look and see if there's anyone that actually brings them in to Hawaii. That said, if I ever did get stranded, I believe I know enough people to help rescue me with their boat (or my boat).

    I would lean towards a dual battery setup with the battery you suggested. It would at least lessen the issue of being stranded because of the battery.

    I do carry a VHF and PLB when I head out with my kayaks and would carry the same with a PWC should I decide on one.

    Thanks for the info on the bilge pump and debris in the impeller. Could you view into the impeller area in the water with goggles? Not sure if that's more dangerous to do. I ask only because I'll have my dive gear with me or on.

    I'm not too worried about range or getting back to shore. My dives are close to the shoreline and I don't need to range too far to get to decent grounds here. I probably wouldn't range more than 20 miles from the launch location. Although, the water would be on the rougher side. No plans to bring additional fuel or try to fuel in the water. I'd be too worried about screwing that up and getting water in the tank or fuel in the water, regardless of where the fuel cap is.

  12. #9
    .
    Last edited by musubi; 09-09-2020 at 02:53 PM.

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