History of Personal Watercraft

I was looking around for some information on Seadoo pwc covers and came across some really interesting information on the history of Seadoos and personal watercraft in general. I am a bit of a history buff so I put off the Seadoo cover search and gobbled up a little history lesson.

 I had always thought that Seadoos were an invention of the late 1980s or early 1990s. In one sense that is correct. The most modern and significant developments in the area of PWCs happened post 1988. However, to limit your sense of history to that era doesn’t give you a proper perspective on the evolution of Seadoos.

 Back in the mid to late 1960s, the Canadian Bombardier family was busy making the ever popular Ski-doo snowmobiles. The family began to toss around the idea of making a snowmobile that traveled on water. They quickly became serious about this project and started to make some preliminary designs of different types of prototypes. After hitting some design snags they heard about an American banker turned inventor named Jacobsen that was playing with a similar design project.

 Jacobsen was interested in motorcycles and his dream was to create a machine similar to a motorcycle that would travel on water. Jacobsen and Bombardier joined forces. Before long, Jacobsen had designed the first Seadoo. Bombardier bought the rights from Jacobsen and added the signature yellow and black coloring from their famous Ski-doo snowmobiles. Bombardier also designed and manufactured the yellow and black seadoo covers. Bombardier produced these Seadoos and offered them to the market in 1968 and 1969.

 The Bombardier Seadoos were limited by the market technology of the times. The 1968 engine was air cooled. This posed as a great problem as the hull wasn’t big enough to allow the proper air circulation. In 1969, the design was changed to allow a liquid cooled engine. This helped a bit there were other problems to contend with. Most of these Seadoos were sold on the east coast and used in salt water. The salt corroded everything. Apparently Jacobsen had some ideas to improve the engine and reduce corrosion but these ideas were not adopted by the Bombardier family.

 After a few false starts the Bombardier family moth balled the idea of the modern day Seadoo for the next 20 years.   Jacobsen bought the rights to his ideas and joined forces with Kawasaki. While at Kawasaki, Jacobsen developed the first Jet-Ski. The history of personal watercraft is colorful and interesting.