How To Pull A Tube Behind A Pontoon Boat

How To Pull A Tube Behind A Pontoon Boat | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

December 5, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Tubing behind a pontoon boat can be a source of fun for a family
  • Tubing will depend on the size of the engine and the weight of the boat
  • A tow rope should be secured to a pontoon boat with a tow bar.
  • Every tuber/operator should practice safe boating practices.

When it comes to watersports like skiing or wakeboarding, a pontoon boat is ideally suited for the task, but how do you pull a tube behind a pontoon boat?

Pulling a Tube behind a pontoon boat is relatively easy if you follow a few simple suggestions.

  • Do the Math
  • Get the Boat fitted with the Right Harness
  • Choose the Right Tube for the Job
  • Pick the Right Tow Rope
  • Safety is Key
  • Start Slowly and Work up Speed
  • Have Fun!

Whether you are using your pontoon boat for fishing your secret spot or just cruising around the lake with friends and family, there is more than a pontoon boat can do. Many families are discovering that pontoon boats are ideal for enjoying watersports like waterskiing or even tubing. But you must ensure everything is in order before you begin. Keeping your loved ones safe while letting them experience fun is more than just slapping a rope on an inner tube. Let’s review some best practices so your weekend adventure can be a blast instead of a boondoggle.


Table of contents

What is a Pontoon Boat?

A pontoon boat is a flat-decked boat kept buoyant by two metal tubes on either side of the deck. They are built for cruising and ideal for fishing.

What are the Steps to Effective Tubing with a Pontoon Boat?

Tubing can be a blast for any family if done safely and correctly, and the process starts long before you and your loved ones hit the water.

Do The Math

The boat's speed is the most significant factor in pulling an inner tube across the water. For a pontoon boat to reach cruising speeds depends on the size of the engine pushing the boat. For effective tubing, an engine of at least 70 - 90 HP is needed (particularly if the boat is weighed down with other guests).

Another factor involved is figuring out what kind of tubing you want to do. If you are planning on racing across the water to give your teenage riders a heart-pounding experience, then you will need speed and room (a wide area to race your boat in). If you are just tubing with some youngsters who don’t need to be scared out of their wits, then a motor with 60HP will be plenty fast enough.

Weight and the size of the pontoon boat can make a big difference. If your pontoon is more extensive, moving the boat while pulling the tube will take more power. In addition, if the whole neighborhood is aboard (lots of people on the boat), the motor may need to be up to the task.

If you’re planning on letting two or three people ride at once, you will need a large enough tube and a rope strong enough to accommodate them. You should use a rope with a tensile strength of 1500 lbs per adult rider. Remember that the heavier the tube riders are, the stronger the rope that will be needed.

A pontoon boat does not produce as high a wake as a V-shaped boat. So, bear that in mind when choosing how to proceed.

Get the Boat fitted with the Right Tow Bar.

You will have to figure out how to attach the tube rope to the pontoon boat. Refrain from assuming you can tie a rope to the back of your pontoon boat's tower and tug away.

The best solution is a tow bar. A tow bar is specifically designed to distribute the weight evenly.

Most recent pontoon boats are equipped with tow bars. However, if your boat doesn’t have one, you can install one in about an hour.

Choose the Right Tube for the Job

Since more and more families are engaging in tubing, companies are coming out with all kinds of tubes. The options include an old-fashioned round inner tube, chariot tubes with seats, and a hot-dog style where multiple people straddle it to ride comfortably.

Remember that whatever size tube you pick, you will need room to store it on the boat. (A tube will only sometimes be deflated).

It is crucial to ensure that the inner tube is inflated to the right psi. An underinflated tube will sit lower in the water, making the boat work harder to pull through. In addition, the added stress of pulling by the tow rope can cause catastrophic failure in the fabric of the tube.

Pick the Right Tow Rope

A suitable tow rope will make a difference between an afternoon of fun and a day of disappointment. Be sure to pick a solid rope to pull the rider(s) on the tube. Do not use a tow rope that is frayed or looks old.

Be sure to secure the rope to the boat and the tube. You need a good 60-65 feet to adequately pull the tube, as anything shorter will not put enough distance between the boat and the riders to keep water from splashing in their face.

Safety is Key

Everyone aboard your boat is wearing an approved life vest. The Coast Guard recommends a Class Three flotation device. This vest does not impede the arms and will keep the rider afloat if they lose their grip and end up in the water. A class three flotation device will not guarantee that an unconscious rider will be face up, so be sure to keep an eye on anyone being towed.

Every rider who is tubing should know the appropriate hand signals to ensure good communication between the rider and the boat operator.

  • A thumbs-up means going faster.
  • Thumbs down mean slower.
  • A pat to the head means that the rider wants to stop tubing (return to the boat)
  • When separated from the tube, hands clasped above the head means the swimmer is okay.
  • Any kind of non-response should be checked on immediately.

It is always a good idea for the boat operator to have a spotter watching the tubers constantly. This addition allows the driver to concentrate on driving and avoiding obstacles while the spotter can alert the operator if there is a problem.

Since a pontoon boat needs more distance to turn around, there must be enough room to do tubing adequately. The last thing you want is for your riders to invade another boat’s personal space or get hung up on an obstacle in the water.

Start Slow, and Move Up as Safely Can Be Done.

Jerking the tow rope suddenly can cause more trouble than it is worth. Not only will riders not be prepared for the sudden tug, but the quick motion could also make them fall off. In addition, the stress of a sudden tug can weaken connections. It is always better to begin slowly and work up speed over the time of the ride.

Have Fun

Once you have done the basics, enjoy your tubing adventure. Take plenty of sunscreen and lots of towels because people will get wet.

How To Pull A Tube Behind A Pontoon Boat
Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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