How to Pull a Tube Behind a Boat

How to Pull a Tube Behind a Boat | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Riding an inflatable tube behind a boat is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting water sports activities for people of all ages. However, towing and balancing the inflatable tube safely can be quite challenging, frustrating, and in some cases, deadly if you do not know how to pull a tube behind a boat. You should, therefore, learn how to pull a tube behind a boat correctly and it will be a super fun and safe way to enjoy yourself.

When it comes to having fun on the water, there are actually very few activities that are more enjoyable and inclusive than having your boat pulling an inflatable tube. An age-friendly activity, pulling a tube behind a boat is a straightforward activity that can be done on any style of powerboat. Whether on a river, a lake, or an ocean, pulling a tube behind a boat is a sure way of making your water adventures more enjoyable to both kids and adults. Even though this may seem like a normal water activity especially for those who grew up around the waters, it's easier said than done. As such, it's essential to know how to pull a tube behind a boat.

There are a few things to keep in mind when towing a tube behind a boat. This is to help you maximize the fun and keep you away from potential injuries and dangers in the water. You should have the right safety measures in place before getting on the boat. You'll, of course, need a boat, a tube, a towing rope, a life jacket, a rearview mirror, and a helmet. Besides that, you need to inflate the tube, tie the tow rope securely, wear the safety gear (helmet and life jacket), make sure that everybody is ready, and drive slowly and surely.

In this article, we'll show you how to pull a tube behind a boat safely and securely.


Table of contents

First Things First: You must have all the Essentials

When planning to take your friends and loved ones out for a tube riding experience, it is important to have all the essential items that will ensure that you remain safe. This is undoubtedly the first crucial step towards a safe and successful pulling of an inflatable tube. With the right gear and safety essentials, pulling an inflatable tube behind a boat will be seamless.

Again, you have to make sure that you choose the type of gear that will endure the conditions you want to ride in. Here are a few items to consider.

A Boat - There are different boat varieties that can perfectly tow a tube. From pontoons to cruisers, deck boats, and Ski boats, these are just a few examples of boats that can perfectly tow an inflatable tube. You should also make sure that the boat is in proper working condition and properly fueled.

Tube - Make sure that you get the right and reliable tube for the body of water that you're planning to do your activities. With that in mind, make sure that you consider the number of riders you're planning to have on the tube at the same time. You should also take into account how fast you want to go as well as the ideal weight limit of the inflatable tube.

Towing rope - Needless to say, you need a good tow rope that can endure nearly all kinds of tension without any problem. Make sure that the towrope is in a good condition and not improvised as it can jeopardize the entire activity and of course, the safety of the riders.

Rearview Mirror - Having a rearview mirror on the boat is essential in giving the skipper a cue on the situation of the tube riders. There should also be a spotter whose main responsibility is to inform the skipper on what's happening behind. In most cases, the skipper is facing the opposite direction and cannot see when something happens behind, say when a rider is hurt. That being said, the spotter should have all his/her attention on the path of the tube as he/she can communicate to the skipper whatever is going on behind.

Life Jackets - Safety is always paramount and everybody should have a life jacket. The skipper, the spotter, and the riders should wear life jackets before getting aboard.

Helmets - Even though most people ignore wearing helmets, it's an essential part of the safety gear, especially for the riders. With a helmet, the riders can avoid harmful impacts on the head in case of falls or collisions. It is also essential in protecting water from splashing on the ears.

An Orange Flag - And because safety should be your number one priority in any water activity, you should have at least one orange flag that can be of great help to alert other boaters that you have an emergency and need assistance.

How to Pull a Tube behind a Boat

Now that you've got the essential items, it's now time to set up for the ride. Here's what you need to do.

Inflate the Tube

Besides having the boat ready for the adventure, the most important thing to do is to ensure that the tube is also ready. This means that it should be well-inflated at the right pressure so that the pressure doesn't drop while you're already underway. You have to make sure that there are no holes in the tube, the valve is properly working, and it can hold the pressure for the entire duration. In short, make sure that there's no malfunction on the tube.

Again, you have to know the maximum weight limit of the tube, the number of people on the tube, and the age recommendation for the tube. You should avoid pulling more than one tube at the same time. This is because balancing more than one tube can be quite challenging for most of us.

Tie the Towrope Properly and Securely

While there are a variety of knots that can be used to tie the towrope to the boat, the slip knot is probably the best. At the boat's end, make a slip knot using the towrope. But before doing that, make sure that the bar is stable to ensure that the cord doesn't move while the boat is moving. On the tube's end, make sure that the towrope is hooked up properly and securely.

It's important to ensure that the rope doesn't have knots, is not improvised, or is damaged. Again, it shouldn't come into contact with any object such as the propeller or even the body of a rider. You certainly do not want an accident to occur just because you used a bad tow rope.

Follow the Boat's Manual

Every boat has a manual revolving around how it should be operated. Make sure that you follow the laid out instructions on how the boat should be operated in terms of making turns and other things such as speed. You should ensure that all the emergency buttons are properly working before getting aboard. You should also have a map of the area and have the course that you're planning to follow. In essence, the skipper is in full control of this entire activity and he/she should follow the boat's instruction while ensuring that everybody involved in the activity is safe at all times.

Make Sure that Everybody Wear Life Jackets and Helmets

Make sure that everybody including you, the spotter, and the riders all wear life jackets and helmets properly. It doesn't whether you all know how to swim or not, wearing life jackets is precautionary and will help you from drowning. This is a safety rule and regulation that must be adhered to by everybody.

Start the Activity only when the Riders are ready

Before riding away, makes sure that the riders are all ready to begin the tubing activity. They must have their life jackets and helmets on and alert them that you're now starting the ride. In other words, do not start the activity when the riders are not ready. The best thing to do is to communicate through verbal gestures and cues. With proper communication between the skipper and the riders, various accidents can be avoided and this is why a spotter plays an essential role in relaying messages between the skipper and the riders.

Enjoy the Ride

Pulling a tube behind a tube is unquestionably a fun activity. It's essential to make sure that everybody aboard is having the time of their life. As the skipper, you have to drive responsibly and make sure that everybody is enjoying the ride. The speed should not exceed 20 miles per hour and all the riders should adhere to every rule and regulation set in place by the authorities.

While speeding the inflatable tube can be thrilling, especially to the riders, you should avoid accelerating the boat abruptly. If you speed the boat abruptly, you'll catch the riders unawares and they'll most probably fall off the tube and into the water, especially if they haven't gripped properly.

Again, you should avoid accelerating too much as this can damage the tube or even disengage the towrope and these are some of the things that you don't want.

To this end, pulling a tube behind a boat can be seamlessly smooth if you know what to do. This, of course, revolves around having the right gear and the right skills to do it. As the boat skipper, make sure that everything is working properly and according to plan. More importantly, you should make sure that the riders are all safe at any given time. Make sure that you're going at a reasonable speed and make the right maneuvers.

Until next time, enjoy the ride!

How to Pull a Tube Behind a Boat
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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