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Tips for Towing Behind a Personal Watercraft

03/16/2021

If you want to amp up the excitement that comes from tubing or waterskiing, you can hook up to a jet ski and really get the adrenaline pumping. The speed and agility of the jet ski add some extra thrills for the person being towed behind.

It’s important to note, though, that towing in this manner can be dangerous if you are an inexperienced rider. While towing a person behind a speedboat is usually pretty straightforward, there are some additional complexities with personal watercraft (PWC) you should be familiar with before attempting to tow a skier or wakeboarder behind your jet ski.

Here’s a quick overview of what you should consider before you begin towing your buddies behind your jet ski.

Have the right equipment

Not every type of jet ski is going to be capable of pulling skiers or tubers. You’ll need to consider factors like the weight of the rider, who/what you’re pulling and what the riding conditions are likely to be when you’re out on the water.

You don’t need to go extremely fast when you’re towing someone, but you do need to have enough power to be able to get up to speed quickly. Higher horsepower will obviously give you greater acceleration and speed.

Make sure you’ve also got the proper accessories. When using a jet ski for towing, there’s a decent chance you’ll suck up the tow rope into the intake. To lower the chances of this happening, it’s a good time to invest in a shock tube, which is a type of float designed to keep the tow rope as far away from the jet ski as possible while riding. It also helps to avoid reversing while you have the tow rope behind you, as doing so makes sucking up the tow rope more likely.

As far as the rope itself goes, plan on it being a hundred feet in length and a bright, highly visible color so you can keep it in sight. It should be secured to the jet ski with a tow eye or ski pylon.

Know the local regulations

Make sure you read up on towing regulations in your area before you hit the water and start pulling someone behind your jet ski. Some areas will require the use of mirrors. Other areas will require you to have a spotter if you’re going to be pulling behind a jet ski, so the skier always has someone monitoring them. There might even be limitations on horsepower.

You should be able to find any information you need about regulations in your area with a quick Google search.

Ensure a safe ride

It’s always tempting when you’re on a jet ski to throttle up and dart around the water, but you have to be extra careful when you’re towing someone behind you.

Take it nice and easy. Idle until the rope slack decreases, then when it’s reached proper tautness you can signal you’re ready to tow when they are. Maintain the same speed until the skier says they’re ready to go, then you can kick into gear.

A spotter might not necessarily be legally required in your area, but we strongly recommend having one anyway for greater safety. This person will be able to watch for hand signals, problems or obstacles. Then, when towing sessions are over, both the rider and the skier can be mindful of where the skier is and how they’re doing. Idle again while turning the jet ski and maintain a slow, steady speed, staying to the side of the skier. Avoid running over the rope as well to prevent any damage to it, and to prevent a clog in your engine pump.

Create signals

This is something you should do whether you’re using a jet ski or a boat, but it’s never a bad idea to re-state this tip. Everyone who will be skiing or riding should know ahead of time what the preferred signals will be for communication. Develop signals to speed up, slow down and go back to shore. It’s up to the driver (or spotter) to watch for these signals, understand them and respect them. During breaks, check and make sure the person being towed is doing okay.

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