I launched at the Hackensack River in Secaucus, NJ (incase you want to see our path on a map). I was with one other jet ski. We rode into Newark Bay, then into the Upper Bay. We were playing around in the rough waters around the Statue of Liberty - we had a blast....until the rest of the problems came about.
We started on our way back, maybe went .25 mile back when we stopped to talk for a minute. After that, my ski wouldn't start (no dash, no sounds, no cranking....nothing) I popped the seat (tough in the swells we were in) and checked the battery connections, which seemed ok. I was stumped because the battery was 2 months old. I tried again. This time I got a display on my dash reading low voltage, but no cranking. The dash quickly went blank. I then clamped off my cooling line with my vise grips and got the tow line out. I put the seat back on, gave it one last try, but got nothing out of it.
We decided to tie the bow of my ski to the stern of the other ski. We successfully tied them up after some time, but the ski of my riding partner became very unstable before we even began towing. He kept getting dumped and felt like he was taking on water. He popped his seat and said that he didn't see water inside so he kept trying and kept tipping. Last ditch effort, I attempt to get on his ski and it tipped right away.
I had a handheld VHF radio with me (great product by the way, I'll leave a link to it at the bottom of this post). I put out a distress call for two disabled jetskis. A moment later it was very clear that my partners ski was sinking (despite the fact that he didn't notice water under the seat before). I then put out a Mayday call on the radio. Seconds later a Newark Fire Department boat came our way and we flagged them down (BIG BOAT - Their deck was about 8' above the water line and was about 40' long)
The Fire boat stops, they tie up to my ski on the starboard side of their ship, and pull me aboard. They throw a ring out to my partner and pull him aboard.
At this point his ski is completely submerged with only 6"-8" of his nose bobbing around at the surface. His stern and my bow are still tied up. His ski then makes its way under the starboard side of the fire boat and pops out on the port side. My ski was then being pulled right up on the starboard side of the ship as it bobbed up and down giving my ski blow after blow after blow.
Finally, the crew was able to fish the line between the two skis and cut it. Both skis were brought around to the stern of the fire boat and towed to a Marina in Liberty State Park. The firemen (aside from the captain) were out on the boat only this one day for a special trip. They loved every minute of the rescue.
The folks at the Marina were very helpful through everything too and allowed us to keep our skis there overnight.
So what actually happened??
My partner told me yesterday that when they craned his ski out of the water, only one plug was in.
As for my ski, I arrived at the Marina first thing this morning with a new battery in hand. I replaced it and it still didn't start. I then checked the terminals on the cable for corrosion and found the terminal on the positive cable hanging on by a thread. I went to a local pep boys, bought a new terminal, crimped it on and rode the ski about 2 miles to a public ramp within Liberty State Park.
Thats the story and I'm sticking to it. Something to tell my grandkids about...
Useful handheld VHF Radio
UNIDEN MHS125 Floating Handheld VHF Radio at West Marine
A few very important things about this radio. Many radios say they are waterproof and are even called submersible. However, if you research their waterproof rating you'll see that they may only be splash proof. This radio cost me some extra money but it was worth it. it has a waterproof rating of JIS-8/IPX8 and can withstand being submerged up to 1.5M.
The radio came off my vest when I went overboard and I found it bobbing around on the surface. It was also submerged while I was swimming and still worked. The radio is highly recommended.