Chapter 7: Water Cleanliness and Small Vessels

Water Skiing and Towed Water Sports

When towing passengers behind the boat, be mindful of their safety since it is, ultimately, the operator's responsibility. Before heading out of the water, take some time to establish a few rules and review communication signals with the observer and the person being towed. This way everyone understands what is needed and how to effectively communicate with one another. Also, verify that everyone is familiar with the proper procedures for reboarding the PWC and picking up fallen skiers.

When engaged in towed water sports, everyone should wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved lifejacket at all times. This includes the boat operator, passengers, and the person being towed behind the vessel. Remember that inflatable PFDs are not approved for high-impact activities meaning one should never be worn by a person being towed. Make sure the PFDs are all approved for high-impact activates.

Boat operators should also have an observer on board whose job it is to watch the person being towed behind the craft. The observer can communicate with the towed passenger through predetermined communication signals and let the operator know when the towed passenger falls or needs assistance. Additionally, if towing another person using a PWC, one must leave at least one seat free for them on the vessel.

Inspect the tow rope before boating, especially when towing a passenger. The tow rope should be in good condition and at least 75 feet long. When dropping off the towed passenger one must keep a distance from the shore and let them swing into it, smoothly, moving back inland. Never run a vessel parallel to shore in shallow water to drop off a towed passenger.

Always cut the engine before approaching a person who has fallen into the water while being towed. Also, always approach a fallen passenger from the operator's side of the boat. This is so one never loses sight of them.

Finally, remember it is illegal to participate in towed water sports at night.