Boat Tubing: How to Tow a Tube Behind a Boat

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how to tow a tube behind a boat

Riding a tube being pulled behind a boat is one of many fun boating activities. It’s been popular way before all the standard equipment and safety features of today. It started by someone attaching a rope to an old tire and tying it to the back of a boat. The sport of boat tubing has come a long way both in tubes, tow ropes, and the rider’s protection. Before taking your children, or even a group of friends out for a fun day on the water, take a few minutes to brush up some helpful tips. Here are the basics of how to tow a tube behind a boat. 

The Boat

The good news is almost any type of boat will pull a tube. The only real requirement is an engine. Even pontoon boats with engines can pull a small tube with a single rider. 

It is recommended you are familiar with how your boat pulls a tube. Is there an even throttle so as not to jerk the tube or accelerate too quickly? Do you know the towing and weight capacity for your boat?

If this is your first attempt, start slow. Pull only one rider at a time, preferably an experienced one, and learn how your boat handles pulling a tube. This precaution can save potential problems and avoid delays or frequent spills. 

Maybe with all your time on the water you are considering joining a boating club. Here is some helpful information on what’s really involved in a boat club membership

Purchase the Right Equipment

Once you know how the boat is going to perform, it’s time to buy the tubing equipment. 

As you might suspect, there are many manufacturers of towable boat tubes and they come in a variety of styles. Here are a few factors to consider in the choice. How many riders will you have? What are their ages? Do they want a more comfortable and leisurely ride, or do they intend to try tricks or go fast?

Some tubes offer more than one riding position as well. There are those where the tuber rides on their stomachs, sits upright, or even stands. 

Of course, the tow rope is very important. It’s what holds everything together. It should be a tow rope designed specifically for tubing behind a boat. These are also sold by the number of people being towed. Better to plan ahead for more riders rather than too few. 

The rope needs an inspection each time it is used. Check for any tangles or knots. Look for any torn or frayed sections. Make sure whoever secures the rope to both the boat and the tube knows what they are doing and that it’s done properly.  

How to Tow a Tube Behind a Boat – Have an Experienced Driver

There should always be an experienced boat driver when pulling a tube with riders. The driver needs to be aware of several things at once. 

Of course, they need to know where the tube is, but they also need to watch out for other watercraft. Tubes swing out wide and out past the boat, so it can easily glide out into another boat’s travel lane. The driver has to know to watch for this. 

Waves and wakes from other boaters are also a concern when pulling a tube, especially with children. Driving too fast across a wave or wake can cause the tube to bounce too high and throw the riders off. 

Always Use a Spotter 

It is highly recommended that someone in the boat is assigned as a spotter. 

The boat driver can’t be expected to constantly watch the tubers and the waters ahead. The spotter is responsible for keeping an eye on the riders and notifying the driver of any issues. They can also be on the lookout for any debris or logs in the water that could cause injuries. 

Hand signals are a great way to communicate between the riders and the spotter. These signals can be used when they want to go faster, need to slow down, or even want to stop. Make sure all the riders are familiar with the hand signals before starting. 

Know Your Rider

You should always understand the skill level of your rider. Just because someone is excited and ready to do daring tricks doesn’t mean they can. 

If you are unfamiliar with some of the riders, take a few minutes to talk to them and find out how experienced they are. Some may want to try but are afraid and will need you to start slow. Others will think they are ready for the Olympics. 

Use your best judgment and keep an eye out to make sure everyone is having fun and being safe. As an added layer of protection for yourself, if you are taking out someone else’s children, it is a good idea to have a signed permission slip from the parent. 

Safety Precautions

After the tube is attached securely, the boat is ready, the spotter is in place, and the tubers have been talked to, there is just one last detail: safety precautions. 

Every rider must wear a life jacket. Even riders who are experienced swimmers can be thrown from the tube, hit their heads, and be unable to swim. Make sure every tuber has the right size and type of life jacket before taking off. 

Not all riders will want to wear these next items, but if you have inexperienced tubers or small children, both are a good idea. A helmet offers protection against head-butting other riders in choppy waters or hitting an obstacle in the water. Goggles are also a good idea so the rider can see what’s going on. 

Even though everyone thinks of bathing suits in the water, when boat tubing, it is a good idea to also wear a protective layer of clothing. Board shorts and a t-shirt or tank top can help with rash protection from the tube. 

Here are a few other safety precautions for having children around the water.

It’s Time to Have Fun

Yes, boat tubing is a great deal of fun, but there are precautions to take to ensure everyone’s safety. Now that you know how to tow a tube behind a boat, get out there and have a blast!

Boating is our passion. For more information on how we can make it yours, please reach out


GBC has the fastest-growing fleet of cruising and fishing boats in South Florida. our reputation for excellent service and safety is second to none. Wheter you are planning a sunset cruise, ocean fishing, or a family water skiing trip on the intracoastal, GBC makes it simple and easy.

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