There’s nothing like going out on the water to water-ski, wakeboard, or tube using your sportsboat. Being able to take part in water sports is one of the many reasons owning a boat is so much fun in the first place. However, as any seasoned boater knows, a simple day of fun on the water can end in suffering if the proper safety precautions aren’t taken. It isn’t hard to use the right tools and behaviors to create a safe experience for your waterskiers or swimmers. All it takes is a bit of knowledge about the safest practices to use while setting up your boat for tow sports, along with taking the necessary precautions to create a carefree, fun experience for everyone onboard. Don’t assume that you can play it by ear: The slightest change in the water can make your fun day of waterskiing a stressful experience. Even with a boat with great marine battery reviews, you need to put safety first. Here are a few ways to have fun and stay safe while doing tow sports on your boat.
1. Have a Variety of Ropes
When it comes to tubing or water-skiing, one size does not fit all. Tubes need to be a bit closer to the boat’s end to function properly, whereas wakeboards and water-ski ropes should be longer and have a bit more give to them. Every rider will have a different preference, so don’t worry too much about getting the perfect rope for everyone. Just make sure to have a standard variety of ropes ranging from about 75 feet to 50 feet. You can also experiment with stretchier ropes for experienced water-skiers. You’ll also need to check that the rope you’re buying can handle a certain weight. There’s a reason why watersport ropes are built a certain way. They not only need to be able to withstand the pull of the boat without snapping, they need to be able to carry the weight of a rider up to a certain amount of pounds. Do your research when it comes to buying the right ropes, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Once you have your ropes set, you’ll also need to experiment with positioning. For instance, if you tether one of your shorter ropes to the back of your craft, your tubers will be less likely to flip over once the boat picks up speed. The way your water-ski ropes are set up will also have to do with rider preference and also their level of skill. New water-skiers might need to use a side bar attachment to gain balance, while more experienced skiers will be able to work with progressively longer ropes.
2. Take It Easy
If you’re testing the waters, don’t let speed be a major concern. While you want to pick up a certain amount of speed in order to get your wakeboarders or water-skiers off the ground, you don’t want to go too fast and risk throwing your rider off. Speed is also important when you’re dealing with a flipped tube. Once a rider falls, you want to instantly throw your boat into the idle position, making sure you’re not creating choppiness in the water for your rider to contend with. This is also a safety precaution that helps ensure your rider doesn’t end up getting pulled toward the engine. When you’re just starting out, you’ll need to pick up speed and adjust smoothly once your rider is coasting. Your coasting speed will be different depending on your rider and their sport of choice, so always listen to your rider and create easy-to-read signals to indicate going faster, slower, or stopping.
3. Spot, Spot, Spot
Once your rider is cruising through the water, you might imagine that your work is done. However, that’s far from the case. In order to stay safe on the waves, you need to have someone else on the boat “spot” your rider to make sure they don’t fall or waver without your knowing about it. Think of your spotter as the go-between, making sure you and the rider are on the same page at all times. Your spotter can also communicate more easily with your rider and lend a hand if things get choppy. Whatever you do, don’t try to go out with just you and a rider unless you’re incredibly experienced with towing watersport passengers.
4. Go Slow When a Rider Falls
When a rider is down, that’s the key for you to stop everything. You’ll need to cut the engine and turn back around to make sure you don’t create waves or lose your rider too far back. While taking a spill on the water is totally safe and happens all the time, you still need to make sure you’re there for your rider and taking every possible precaution to give them a safe, fun time out on the ocean.