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 understand that it might sound confusing, but if you visit a typical boat dealership or purchase any standard used boat, the likelihood of finding a boat with brakes is almost nil. However, if you go to the right dealership or choose the right boat, you’ll find that it’s quite common for boats 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 pioneer in introducing brakes to their jet skis in 2009, a feature that other jet ski manufacturers are now adopting. Although Sea-Doo exited the larger boat market in 2012, they have made a comeback with the Sea-Doo Switch, a pontoon jet boat equipped with brakes, similar to those found on their personal watercrafts (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.
You Will Find Braking On PWC
A jet ski is a small boat, and as the years go on, it’s becoming more common for them to have brakes.
The 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!
There Is A Boat With Brakes… Sea-Doo Switch
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.
Throwing 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.
Doing Just Fine Without Them
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, what makes the Sea-Doo iBR system outstanding is not just the ability to stop more quickly, but the control it provides at the dock. The Sea-Doo Switch employs triggers for forward, neutral, and reverse. Alternating between these triggers instills confidence in placing the boat precisely where you want. It’s far more intuitive than any other boat system.
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.