Towing an inflatable behind a boat is a significant responsibility. When it is done correctly, those riding the inflatable can have a fun, safe time. Here’s how to pull a tube behind a boat in a proper way to make sure everyone can come home at the end of the day.
- Make sure you have the essentials. There are certain items you must have for a day of riding inflatables. This includes government-approved life jackets for all riders and boaters. It does not matter what age you are or your ability to swim – everyone gets a life jacket, no matter what. An orange flag is also necessary in case you have an emergency.
- You need a good towrope. It might be tempting to improvise on the towrope when pulling inflatables. Don’t do it. The inflatable is going to be moving from side to side as you speed along the water. A good towrope will stand up to this tension with ease.
- Don’t start until the rider is ready. Before even getting out on the water, your group should agree on a verbal cue which indicates the rider is ready. A gesture which can be easily seen is a good secondary option. This will avoid miscommunication and lower the risks of an unintended injury occurring.
- Avoid having a heavy foot. When accelerating the boat, be firm about your acceleration curve, yet still gradual about it. You don’t need the same power to pull someone out of the water when they are on an inflatable. Too much power may disengage the towrope or even damage the inflatable. Keep moving the throttle forward until you reach full speed, which is defined with a towable as 70-75% of total engine performance.
- Have a spotter whenever possible. The driver needs to focus on making sure the boat doesn’t hit any obstacles while on the water. Making the driver also keep an eye on the rider(s) on the inflatable sets everyone up for disaster. Have a spotter on-board that can communicate with the riders so the driver can stay focused. The goal is to be comfortable so that everyone can have fun. If that means driving slower, then drive slower.
- Pull just one tube at a time. Some boaters have tried pulling multiple inflatables at once. This increases the chances of collision and injury. Riders may not always be able to control the movement of their inflatable.
- Turn your engine off between sessions. Whenever someone is in the water around your boat, it is a good idea to turn the engine off completely. This will ensure that any swimmers near the side or back of your boat are not unintentionally injured. If someone falls off of their inflatable, then slowly back down into neutral, turn around, and use your orange flag to indicate to other boaters that someone is in the water.
As a final step, knowing how to pull a tube behind a boat means avoiding crowded waterways and channels whenever possible. This will help you to be able to create a fun, memorable, and safe experience for everyone.