During Ms B’s and my recent weekend stay at the New Forest, we only spent the first day (and night) in the New Forest, and took the train to Poole on the following day, because we had booked ourselves into a jetski adventure with Jetski Safaris.
We had initially planned on doing the jetski ride together, but the water outside the harbour area was partially fairly rough that morning and many of the activities on offer had already been cancelled, so Ms B gave it a miss and did a cake and muffin safari instead.
The instruction video was followed by a few more bits of guidance from our instructor, and then we were on our way walking the 5mins from the boat shack to the jetskis.
I was slightly nervous, because it had been so long since I last rode a jetski (in the Maldives in 2010, where the sea that day had been flat as a pancake, not with one-metre waves, strong winds, and dark skies). Our group was larger than usual, comprising a total of 5 jetskis (including the instructor’s), with one dude who had arrived on his own and a family father (both my age), each riding their own jetski like I would, and a slightly younger couple that started out with her doing the driving and later on switched to him driving, the two of them sharing one jetski.
The first ten minutes were spent doing exercises next to the harbour at very slow speed, ensuring that we felt comfortable with our vehicles. Then we went at significantly higher speed towards the “jetski zone” designated for this kind of outdoor activity. That’s when – for the first time, while the sea was still fairly calm, with waves no higher than 40cm, we went full throttle doing a parcours around a set of three buoys. I could already feel some adrenaline kicking in. So much fun!
But the heavy-duty real fun was only going to start next, when we went on our trip to Old Harry Rocks. The sea soon turned rougher with waves that built up to about one metre (especially where they were assisted by larger ships’ tail waves). Some of the waves were pretty steep and seemed just before breaking point. They weren’t always going in nice parallel lines, but all over the place, crossing each other.
Our instructor went at steady pace, probably no faster than 50km/h, hard to guess, but us newbies, much further behind in the large wing formation, were regularly thrown to near standstill by the waves. So we had to go full-throttle (approximately 75km/h) a fair share of the rest of the time in order to make up for time lost.
These photos and all following photos (c) Jetski Safari and from their archives, rest (c) BSqB
I nearly broke my front teeth on the steering lever several times and came close to being thrown off my jetski every other wave, but boy was this fun! It was scary as hell at times, especially when you had just jumped across one wave and realised that you were going to hit the next steep wave at a downward angle. The pictures in this post do not reflect how rough the sea was at times, because during the times we crossed those waves it would have been rather hard to take photos. We crossed those patches with 35m safety distance from one another, at times much more (i.e. when one of us had fallen back or been kicked to near-standstill).
It probably doesn’t reflect well on my level of intelligence, that it took me the best of ten minutes to figure out that it’s better to bite your teeth and press your ankles against the bottom part of the seat from both sides rather than accidentally crash your ankles against the seat every other wave.
I swallowed tons of salt water and my eyes (I had refused to wear eye protection because it didn’t fit well) started to close soon, leaving just two small slits.
The short break at Old Harry Rocks provided much needed time to take a breath and to incredulously enjoy still being alive. On the feature photo you can see me with a crazy smile, presumably unaware that a picture was taken.
On the ride back the advantage gained in higher experience levels was more than made up by increasing fatigue. I literally found it hard to grip the steering lever any longer. It just takes so much energy to hold on to it, with all the waves trying to constantly kick you off, but I hung in.
When we were finally arriving back at the pier in the harbour, none of us were able to wipe the crazy smiles off our faces for half an hour or so. I’ll definitely do this again very soon. Front teeth are so overrated!
Just to make sure I’m not putting anyone off: no one will ever bully you into driving faster than you want to, you’re in control all the time. Yes, if you go slower than the group’s intended speed, you will force the group to slow down for you, but so be it. The groups are very small, usually limited to only three jetskis (plus the instructor’s, so a maximum of 7 persons, if all jetskis are shared). We all chose to go at these mad speeds that day because it was great fun, but it can also be a lot of fun to go at slower speeds. One thing I would say is, very small groups of similarly minded, similar-aged individuals are probably better than a larger, more diverse group, and if you know you’re risk-averse, then perhaps choose a day when the sea is flat. Ideally, get a couple of like-minded pals to join you and do the whole trip as a team. It’s well worth the £95.
Looking for more adventure? Check out our posts about Skydiving, Thames Rocket, our Jetlev experience, our Norfolk Seal Safari, rock-climbing and off-roading near Porto, our helicopter ride over London, and our trips to the Sahara and to the North Pole (well, Spitsbergen is about 1,000km from the Pole, but still pretty close).