With the variety of water sports on the rise, such as wake skating, knee boarding, tube riding and multi-person inflatable riding, it means firstly that there are more people on the water and secondly, that boat drivers need to be far more aware, careful and vigilant when on the water. Here are our top tips to help you improve your towing abilities.
[pullquote]Towing people behind a boat requires a level head and good boating skills[/pullquote]
All fun seekers who are skiing, wakeboarding or tubing behind the boat need to wear an approved PFD which fits snugly and won’t slip of. Often, particularly in high speed skiing and even tubing, there is the chance that concussion can occur when hitting the water, and without a PFD, you chances of survival are dramatically reduced.
Make sure that all the gear being used is in good condition and does not show signs of wear. If equipment is looking old and tired, it is time to replace it, as using old equipment can become a towing hazard for those being towed.
It is always advised that you get to know the waterway you are towing on and become aware of any restrictions, no-tow zones, pilings and outcrops. If you are not a frequent user of a particular waterway, ask for advice at the club house or chat to the locals to find out more. Some areas of the waterway might be more dangerous to use than others.
Motors must always be switched off when a skier enters or exits the water. The boat’s motor produces a lot of fumes when left running and the propeller can cause serious injury to people in the water behind the boat.
ENLIST A SPOTTER
It is important to have a dedicated spotter to assist the driver when towing people behind a boat. This allows the spotter to keep a keen eye on the skiers and tubers behind the boat and convey any messages to the driver very easily. Skiers can also indicate to the spotter whether they need more or less speed and the spotter can pass on this information to the driver. Having a spotter allows the driver to concentrate totally on the water in front of the boast and be vigilant of the other boats on the water.
Never exceed the maximum allowable person or weight limit set out for a particular tube. Exceeding these limits will only jeopardise the safety of those using the tube and injuries can result.
As the boat driver, it is important to find out from skiers and wakeboarders what their level of competence is and explain to them the correct hand signals that need to be used. That way, the boat owner can marry the speed of the boat to the ability of the rider being towed.
AT A DISTANCE
As a general rule, it is suggested that those skiers being towed are kept at least two tow rope lengths from the shoreline. This means that in the event of a sharp turn, if the rope is released by the skier, he stays well clear of the shoreline and shallow waters.
KEEP IT CLEAN
The skipper should not drink alcohol or take drugs when towing as this will impair his ability to drive the boat properly and this can lead to handling errors and accidents.
Boating is always going to be fun and towing skiers is just another facet of this wonderful outdoor pleasure. Towing responsibly and being level-headed out on the water will ensure improved safety and fewer accidents.