Can You Pull a Tube Behind a Sailboat?

Can You Pull a Tube Behind a Sailboat? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Tubing and sailing are both highly enjoyable activities for the whole family. But, can you combine the two thrills?

The short answer is, yes. You can pull a tube behind a sailboat. It wouldn’t go nearly as fast as a speed boat, but it would still be enjoyable, especially while under sail.

If you’re considering purchasing a tube to pull behind your sailboat, consider a few things. First, how much of a factor is the speed for you? Is your sailboat capable of pulling a tube? And what tube options are there?


Table of contents

Don’t Expect to Go Fast

When most people think about tubing, they think of it as a fast ride with lots of bumps and the occasionally lost rider. A speedboat is the best choice for sports tubing.

Just for comparison, consider the average powerboat speed compared to the average sailboat speed.

Speed boats can travel up to 80 knots (or 92 mph) in calm conditions. On the other hand, a sailboat made for racing travels 15 knots (or 17 mph). Though, your typical cruising sailboat travels much slower than that. Cruising sailboats average closer to 4-6 knots.

But speed isn’t everything for some people who want to pull a tube behind a sailboat. Young kids and even some adults enjoy being pulled behind a sailboat, even though it doesn’t go very fast.

Are You Equipped to Tow?

Sailboats typically aren’t made for towing, but thankfully inflatable tubes are very lightweight. Make sure to secure the tow rope somewhere it won’t damage your railing or come undone.

Many sailboats either don’t have a motor or only have a small trolling motor. You may want to consider adding a larger motor to your sailboat if the tubing is something you want to do regularly. That way, you can get more speed and maneuverability.

After all, if you lose a passenger on a tube, turning around for them with only sails to propel you would take a very long time.

What Kind of Tube Should You Get?

With a sailboat, you don’t need to worry about the tube being sporty, because you most likely won’t be towing very fast. A small, lightweight tube (maybe two-person max) is probably the best option for a sailboat because it creates less drag.

The less amount of drag on the sailboat, the more speed gain you can get. There aren’t any tubes on the market that cater to sailboats, but you can find one that will work for you at just about any West Marine store.

Here are some tubes that might be a good option for sailboats:

  1. Airhead Blast 1-person Towable Tube
  2. Wake Ryder 1-person Towable Tube
  3. HO Sports 2G 2-person Towable Tube

In addition to a tube, you’ll need to purchase a towing rope for the weight capacity you’re expecting to ride the tube and life jackets for each person.

Tubes that you can sit down in, instead of laying stomach-down, might be more comfortable. The ride won’t be smooth, and it won’t be fast, so things comfort first. Also, think about who will be riding the tube. If you plan on towing kids behind your sailboat, make sure to get a secure one and they are unlikely to fall off.

As we mentioned before, recovering a lost tuber is more difficult on a sailboat than it would be on a powerboat.

Can You Pull a Tube Behind a Sailboat?
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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