Maritime Lawyer Fulweiler Explains Jet Skis Are Vessels

Posted by John K. Fulweiler | Feb 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Jet skis are fun. I know the ruckus they can bring when they're in the wrong hands, but I challenge you to tell me a better way to explore the gin clear waters of the Bahamas. Gurgling along under a bright sky and with the freedom to cover scores of miles all without the confines of a vessel, wow that's something special.

What's that? Yea, jet skis are vessels. You didn't know that?

Okay, let me explain.

The United States Code defines a vessel as "every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water." And lots of courts have specifically held that a jet ski is a vessel. That's good news for the owners of jet skis because by being a "vessel" the jet ski is covered by the Limitation Act. (The Limitation Act restricts the financial liability of a ship owner to the value of the vessel and its freight when the vessel is involved in an accident caused without the ship owner's "privity or knowledge.)

The fact that a jet ski is considered a vessel should also underscore to their owners and operators that their use is serious business. That is, the navigational rules of the road as well as all of the burdens and benefits of ownership apply to jet skis.

Underway and making way.

By John Fulweiler

[email protected]

About the Author

John K. Fulweiler

Proctor-In-Admiralty / Licensed U.S. Coast Guard Master Formerly a partner in a New York maritime law firm, John K. Fulweiler graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Marine Affairs degree and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law. In addition to being recognized by...


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