Guide To Towing With A Jet Ski, Sea-Doo, Or A Power Watercraft

Jet Ski, sea-doo, and other personal watercraft (PWC) are capable of towing, but unfortunately, all of them have their limits. These limits are in terms of their pulling capacity. It’s because they’re not designed primarily for towing purposes, and so most people ask: What’s the pulling capacity of a PWC? Or, can a jet ski tow a tube?

Average jet skis are 100 to 150 HP, capable of pulling up to about 200 pounds. It’s the same case with sea-doo, and other PWC. 200 pounds can be in the form of boats, tube (with passengers), caught fish, etc. The watercraft’s towing speed will vary based on the weight attached to it.

This article is a guide to towing with your PWC (jet ski, sea-doo, etc.). If you’re interested in getting lots of valuable information in a fun and exciting way, please keep reading until the end!

Guide To Towing With A Jet Ski, Sea-Doo, Or A Power Watercraft

How To Tow With A PWC

Since PWCs can tow up to 220 pounds on average, you’re likely to be able to pull just a tube (with passengers under the weight limit). Additionally, you can also tow a small empty boat. For instance, a 12′ Jon boat usually weighs 170 pounds (including the fuel weight) and thus, can be pulled by your PWC. 

Towing with a PWC requires following a particular procedure. Furthermore, there are a couple of essential points to consider to avoid a bitter towing experience. The crucial entities include strong towing rope, an observer, etc.

We’ll now cover the towing procedure up next.

Correct Procedure For Towing With a Jet-Ski

Before proceeding, please remember that the towing procedure is the same whether it’s a jet ski, sea-doo, or any other PWC. The process below is to tow a tube and or a PWC.

  1. Tie the towing rope with your PWC and the disabled boat or the tube. There’s a dedicated hook or something similar present on every boat, which is meant just for towing purposes. Avoid tying the rope with any other part of the boat.
  2. If you need additional ground clearance, you might need to lift the outboard engine (if towing an empty and small boat). Or else, you can leave it as it is.
  3. Before towing, make sure that the rope isn’t tangled, damaged, and or there’s nothing stuck with the rope. The rope MUST be rated for towing the weight and then some. The rope should not be considered or used if not intended for this purpose.
  4. Now you’re good to go (or tow). Start the momentum slowly so that you’ll get to know about it before getting up to speed if there’s an issue.
  5. If pulling the tube, we recommend moving in an “S” manner.

Essential Points To Consider When Towing With PWC

A couple of steps to remember while towing are as follows:

  • Always Follow The Weight Limits

Towing (with a jet ski) more than its weight capacity can stress the engine, which may blow in the worst-case scenario. While pulling, if you think that the speed is less than desired, you’re more likely to pull the weight beyond safe limits.

  • Consider The Rope Size

If you’re pulling a tube with children in it, keep the rope short. Since long rope can create more centrifugal force, kids could potentially be in danger. If you’re towing something else, keep the rope longer.

  • Use Bright Colored Rope

Using a bright-colored rope helps the observer keep track of it. The rope must always be visible to the observer throughout the towing process. That way, in case the rope tangles or something gets stuck (maybe marine plants floating on the water surface), you’ll get to know about it.

  • An Observer Is Mandatory

It’s imperative to have an observer present on your watercraft throughout the towing process. The observer’s job is to keep an eye on the tube being pulled and inform the driver about issues (if any). At some places, you might not be allowed to tow a person without an observer (please check your State’s rules before proceeding).

Man on a jet ski towing a person waterskiing.
Man on a jet ski towing a person waterskiing.
  • Use Sign Language

Avoid shouting or yelling to communicate. Instead, using a sing language to communicate is highly recommended. Also, the passengers on the tube must only communicate with the observer and not the driver. Make sure that the driver only drives the ski safely and does nothing else. 

You must be thinking, why only sign language? First, there’s a high chance that the water might enter the mouth if you open it to speak. Even if the water is reasonably calm, you never know when it might contain something like E. coli bacteria. However, the driver and observer must speak to communicate. Also, the towing craft’s noise will often make shouting between observer and tuber near to impossible. For this reason, adopting some simple hand signals is imperative.

  • Watch Out For The Speed Limit

Another vital limit to consider is the speed limit. If you’re towing another watercraft with your watercraft, you must observe your riding speed. Why? PWCs have their predefined speed limits over which they must not consider towing. Or else the water might enter the crucial parts where it should not 


It would be best if you did not tow your ski faster than five mph, or else the water might enter the engine, causing massive damage and enormous repair costs.

Similarly, if you’re pulling a tube, moving faster might put passengers’ lives (in the tube) in danger.

Tubing Tips: Pulling or Riding on a Water Tube

This section covers some short and quick tubing tips compiled by the actual tubers after the practical experience.

  1. If the passenger in the tube is lying on their stomach, NEVER ride at a high or moderate speed. Always go slow, or else the excessive bounce can break their spine, possibly causing instant death.
  2. Always wear a life jacket even if you’re a driver.
  3. If pulling multiple items such as two boats, tubes, or something else, take extra and extreme caution. The items can collide, ending up knocking down each other. If pulling two tubes, both the tubes’ passengers may crash into each other in the worst-case scenario, receiving severe damage.
  4. Dock slowly. Stopping the boat in a slow and controlled manner is highly recommended because the tube or the boat (being pulled) will glide furiously on the water and will crash into the shore/bank or back of the PWC due to inertia.
  5. Never tow humans without an observer.
  6. Watch out for the marine traffic. The incoming traffic may see your boat but may not see the tube you’re pulling.
How to tow with a PWC or Jet Ski.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is by driving in an S manner mean?

Riding a PWC in an S manner is like moving in a zigzag fashion. Steer left and right alternatively for a few seconds, resulting in an S-shaped course of travel. If viewed from overhead, the trail behind the boat will appear similar to the English alphabet “S,” hence we can call it traveling in an S manner.

Why Should you drive your ski in an S manner?

Driving in an S manner is very important, especially when pulling a tube. If you move in a straight path, the water trail behind the boat will act as a rough course for the tube, which will increase its chances of turning upside down. This situation becomes even more dangerous if there are kids or newbies in the tube.

If you drive in a zigzag fashion (S manner), the boat will move left and then right alternatively or vice versa for a few seconds. That way, the tube is always slightly away from the wake behind the boat. It lets the tube glide smoothly and safely on the water.

Alternatively, if you kept moving circularly, the tube will encounter a lot of centrifugal force, which can throw the tube far away if the towing rope broke, or the force may cause a misbalance. Hence, the S manner or the zigzag manner is the best-recommended course of travel.

How fast should you drive your PWC while towing?

Towing speed depends on what you’re pulling. If it’s a ski or a boat, stay within five mph (consequences of surpassing the speed discussed above). It would be best if you did not pull the tube faster than 20 mph. It should be slower if the passengers (in the tube) are kids or novices.


We’ve covered the towing procedure along with some essential points and warnings that you must not avoid at any cost. Towing a tube can be a lot more fun if you follow the guidelines. Please remember to respect the rules and laws because they’re meant for your safety and benefit. 

People, especially youth, tend to ignore the warnings, and many end up hurting themselves. Our job was to offer you the right information, and it’s your turn to follow them. Good luck and have fun!


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