Do Boats Have Brakes? [How To Stop?]

Boats are very strange to people who never been on one or drove one before.

While there are a lot of similarities to cars, boats tend to be very different. Boats do have forward, neutral and reverse, but braking is different and for most boats.

The crazy part, and what many don’t know about, is there are boats and jet skis with brakes, and they’ve been around for a good bit. Let’s go over all of this and more!

Not All Boats Have Brakes

For the most part, it’s safe to say boats do NOT have brakes. Though, that statement is not entirely true, the boats that do have brakes are not as common… sort-of.

I know it sounds confusing, but you go to a regular boat dealership or buy any used regular boat, the chances of you finding a boat with brakes is near impossible. But go to the right dealership or buy the correct boat, and you’ll see it’s pretty common to have brakes.

The boats that are more likely to have brakes, or something that slows you down, will be jet skis. Sea-Doo, Yamaha and now Kawasaki all have some kind of braking system that will slow you down. The way it works is quite interesting, kind of like a parachute, and it also doubles as the reverse too!

Sea-Doo was the first ones to have brakes back in 2009 and now all the other jet ski manufacturers are catching on. Sea-Doo got out of the bigger boat market in 2012 but has come back with the Sea-Doo Switch pontoon jet boat, and it has brakes just like their PWCs.

You also have specialty boats, like the jet drive US Coast Guard Boats, that have brakes and can stop a lot quicker than most of the boats we talk about.

Jet Skis Have Brakes

A jet ski is a small boat, and as the years go on, it’s becoming more common for them to have brakes.

Brakes on a jet ski don’t work similar to your car. The brakes on a jet ski are like throwing the jet ski into reverse while at speed, but safer.

Jet skis are smaller and more agile, so brakes are important. It’s one of those big shifts to an industry that changes everything. A jet ski is more likely to pull out in front of another boat or be more careless, so jet skis having brakes is smart and allows them to correct the problem and get out of the way of bigger boats.

It’s not just the jet skis that are getting brakes, but jet boats too!

The Sea-Doo Switch Has Brakes!

Every model of the Sea-Doo Switch will come with Sea-Doo’s iBR system (brakes).

The Sea-Doo Switch uses a lot of the parts from Sea-Doo’s PWC line, so it makes sense for it to have brakes.

You still get the normal forward, neutral and reverse but also brakes! With brakes, the Sea-Doo Switch is the best beginner’s boat on the market!

Regular Pontoon Boats Don’t Have Brakes

While the Sea-Doo Switch is a pontoon with brakes, it doesn’t mean all pontoon boats have brakes.

Actually, no pontoon boat on the market besides the Sea-Doo Switch has brakes. You can at a safe speed put the pontoon boat in reverse to stop yourself, but at speed there is no safe braking system.

I wouldn’t be surprised if more boat manufacturers start to catch on and add brakes. I feel Yamaha is the closest as they have the biggest jet boat line up now and have their RIDE system for their waverunners.

Throw Boat Into Reverse =/= Brakes

At lower speeds, like docking, you can put any boat into reverse to stop or slow down.

What you can’t do is throw the boat in reverse while at speed.

Throwing a boat into reverse while going at speed will damage the engine and transmission, along with nose-dive the front of the boat into what is called “submarining“. It’s a good way to sink your boat and kill your transmission!

Where the brakes on jet ski get things right is that the bucket that slows you down also moves back up when the jet ski starts to nose dive too much, it’s like ABS for jet skis.

Do Boats Need Brakes?

Boats been doing just fine without brakes, and while I love it for the Sea-Doo Switch, I will admit it’s not needed.

For me, it’s not the ability to stop quicker that makes the Sea-Doo iBR system so great, but instead the control it gives you at the dock. The Sea-Doo Switch uses triggers for the forward, neutral and reverse. Flipping the triggers back and forth gives you the confidence to put the boat wherever you want, and far easier to understand than any other boat.

Other boats require many quick movements in long strokes, but everything is contained in the Sea-Doo iBR system at your fingertips. It really is something else and may get scoffed at by other boaters, but it’s a real game-changer to regular people.

Since brakes are rare on boats, I wouldn’t let that stop you from getting one. They’re not needed, and you’ll be fine without them.

Brakes May Come To All Boats

Brakes on a jet ski are still a fairly new idea, but that is not what keeps some away.

It’s all about the patents, and Sea-Doo seems to be the one to own the term brakes for a boat. Other manufacturers have tip-toed around it, Yamaha using dual throttle and working a little different.

But something this groundbreaking and innovative will find a way to the general public.

About the only other reason I can think that more boats don’t get their own braking system is that the manufacturers don’t think it’s necessary. Also, most boat manufacturers don’t make their own engines/transmissions unlike jet ski manufacturers, so they don’t have a tight-knit ability to make such things. We need the boat engine manufacturers to release something.

As of now, it looks like brakes for boats as a whole may never happen. So if you want brakes on your boat you need to hang close to the jet boat manufacturers as they seem to be the only ones doing it.