What could be more fun than water skiing? As a recreational pastime, water skiing in the United States has more than 600 local associations dedicated to the high-energy sport. But as though the blood-rushing activity isn’t exhilarating enough, people have come up with a variety of ways to make it even more thrilling.
One of those ways is to tie not one, but two skiers to a boat at the same time. Tandem water skiing definitely takes things up a notch. But if a boat is towing two skiers at the same time. How long should the tow lines be? Here are the specifics for your safety.
The Answer According to the Boat Ed Quizlet
Of course, the guys at Boat-Ed have all the answers. According to their quizlet, the lines connecting skiers to a boat should be exactly the same length. In cases where a boat can tow more than just one skier, the lines will need to be equal lengths nonetheless. This just helps to make things safer for those enjoying the tandem sport.
Why Do They Need to Be the Same?
On average, a tow line for skiing needs to be at least 75 feet or 23 meters. Of course, that could change depending on how much experience the person has, and the conditions of the water. Regardless of how many people are being towed at a given time though, the lines have to be exactly the same length.
Why is that? Well, for starters, varying line lengths could lead to accidents on the water because of the way the boat would be pulling the weight. Sure, a single person’s weight might not seem like a lot. But when you add in more people to the mix, it creates uneven drag on the boat which may overwork the engine and make it more difficult to turn.
Another issue is exactly that - turning. Unequal tow lines increase the risk of clothe-lining one of the skiers during a turn. More often, the person on the shorter line is at risk of being intercepted by the longer line, and this could lead to serious injury on the water.
What Should You Do Before Towing a Skier?
Before you let excitement get the best of you, it’s important that you keep a few things in mind. Try to follow these tips on preparing before you tow a skier to minimize the risk of accidents and injury:
Call on an Observer
If you’re operating the boat, then you’re going to have to call another person on board to act as an observer. This person’s job is to make sure that the skiers are safe, and to inform the operator in case of any potential danger.
Review Hand Signals
There are a set of standard hand signals for water skiing, allowing the skier, operator, and observer to communicate while the activity is ongoing. Practice the signals with your skiers so you can communicate without having to shout through the noise of the waves and the motor.
Wear a PFD
It’s of utmost importance that all skiers wear a Coast Guard approved PFD. Remember that there are special PFD’s designed specifically for water skiing. High impact flotation devices are required to prevent serious injury.
Familiarize Yourself with the Area
Before you go, make sure you scout the area and figure out if there are any hazards you need to steer clear of. Try to map out your path and avoid waterways that are crowded with too many boats and people.
Watch the Time
In some places, towing a skier at night or when it’s getting dark might actually be illegal. This is because if anything were to happen while you were out on the water, the search effort would be made that much harder. Watch the time and schedule the activity for when there’s still daylight to spare.
What to Do While Towing a Skier
So now you’re on the water and your skiers are having the time of their lives. Try to keep these tips in mind so you can maintain everyone’s safety and make your way back to shore in one piece:
Start your engine and move slowly forward through the water. Once the line is taut, then you can increase your speed to raise your skier out of the waves. Watch out for their hand signals at all times so you can adjust your speed accordingly.
Watch Your Distance
Your skier should be at least two times the length of the rope from hazards in the water. That includes the dock, the shoreline, and other people in the waves. Adjust your boat to increase the distance from your skier to these hazards in case the need arises.
Keep Your Eyes on the Water
As the operator, you should see to it that you maintain your focus on what’s ahead. Avoid looking back at your skier too much and let your observer or lookout take on the responsibility for you.
Always Keep the Skier in View
In case the skier falls or lets go, make sure you circle back as soon as possible. Task your observer to maintain the skier in view at all times. You can let them take a grasp of the towline again, or make them hop aboard, depending on their preference.
Shut Off Your Engine
When you circle back to retrieve your skier, turn off your engine as they clamber on. This reduces the chances of a propeller strike injury or accident.
Better Safe Than Sorry
A boat is towing two skiers at the same time. How long should the tow lines be? Well, common sense would tell you that they’d have to be exactly the same length, and that’s correct. Water skiing can be loads of fun, but only when you do it safely and properly. So if you’ve got family and friends that want to tandem ski, keep these reminders and tips in mind to secure everyone’s safety.