Let’s do the wave

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Few areas are better for exploring by wave runner than Siesta Key and the Intracoastal Waterway

By Jane Bartnett

“This is a happy business. Wave runners are really fun,” said Siesta Key Jet Ski owner Frankie Longenbach with a big smile.

The Pennsylvania native, who holds a degree in structural engineering from Penn State, took over the company two years ago. He’s really enjoying his second career and not looking back.  As Siesta Key’s only wave runner rental company, the business has been a part of the island’s waterfront community since 2006.

Families, friends, couples and individuals, and groups come to this welcoming place to get out on the water, zip around in a wave runner and have a really good time as they enjoy Siesta Key’s and Sarasota’s natural beauty.

“We’ve had corporate and wedding groups, bachelor parties, all kinds of gatherings,” Longenbach said. “We can rent up to 15 wave runners at a time.”

Rentals are available on an hourly basis, charged for each wave runner. Rates are:

1 hour, $119; 1½ hours $179; 2 hours $219; 3 hours $ 309; and 4 hours $399.

As the busy winter season begins, reservations are highly recommended. A valid photo ID and a $300 security deposit on a major credit card for every watercraft is required. Credit cards, debit cards, and cash are accepted for payment.

Many people choose to go out and explore the Intracoastal Waterway for an hour or two by themselves, Longenbach said. An hour-long rental allows for a leisurely ride south as far as the Casey Key Fish House and back. A longer 1½-hour ride, or a two-hour rental, gives riders time to head out into Sarasota Bay. 

If hanging out on a sandbar to swim, picnic and relax is on the agenda, and for adventurers who want to travel further into the Gulf, a three- or four-hour rental is the way to go. “It’s enough time to go as far as north as Lido Key or up to Holmes Beach,” Longenbach said.

Once out on the water, if needed, drivers can reach the office by cell phone. “The cell service is up to 9 miles out and there’s a dry storage box onboard each wave runner to stash a cell phone,” Longenbach said.

For those who don’t want to head out on their own, two-hour tours that begin at $259 are popular and can be booked for the morning or afternoon. “Each tour is custom to that group. Some people want to look for dolphins, some want to see the coastal homes or bird sanctuaries.  We cater to whatever they want. Our guides are very well versed in the area,” the owner said.

Each Siesta Key Jet Ski Yamaha wave runner can carry up to 450 pounds. “For a family, we allow two adults and one child to ride together, as long as the total weight is under 450 pounds,” Longenbach said.

Each driver must have a valid driver’s license and/or a boater safety course license and each person receives a lesson before they head out on the water. No previous experience is needed, but each driver must be 18 years and older. Teens who are 16 and older can drive a wave runner if an adult is on board. Parents of those drivers must be present to sign for the rental. Florida requires anyone born after January 1, 1988, who is under 21, and at least 16 years of age, to have a Florida Safe Boating Certificate. The test can be taken at the store or online.

Siesta Key Jet Ski can be found at 1250 Stickney Point Rd., inside the Fin Island Co. and below the Daiquiri Deck. Customer parking is free. The business is open even day of the year, except Christmas Day. 

For more information, visit siestakeyjetski.com, or call (941) 346-3000, or send an email from the website. Gift certificates are also available.

Jane Bartnett
Author: Jane Bartnett

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