Ski Boats And Skiing Safely

When water skiing the boat operator and the skier must work as a team. They both need to learn safe skiing skills. Before you hit the water, you should know your equipment, general and local boating laws, and the basic fundamentals of the sport.

What the Boat Operator should know

All boats should allow a minimum of a 100 foot ski area. This means, that if two ski boats are in the same vicinity of each other they should be at least 200 feet apart. Before pulling a skier up carefully check the path ahead for obstacles and make sure the towline is not caught in the propeller or wrapped around the skier. Never accelerate until the skier is holding the towline handle, with the ski tip or tips showing above water. Skiers should have a smooth acceleration as they come up on a plane. As the boat operator, you should ease the throttle at first with a slight increase in speed.

You should never attempt sharp turns with the boat, especially if the skier is cutting sharply outside the wake on either side. If you have to make an unexpected turn, throttle back as you turn. Signal to the skier, that you have to turn, remembering that it is safer to dunk the skier than risk an accident.

If a skier falls, return immediately. Other boaters may not notice a skier in the water, and the presence of the tow boat may keep other boaters away from the general area. You should approach with caution from the driver’s side so the skier is always in view and on your side of the boat. Never back the boat up to someone in the water. Shut the engine off when you are near the skier so there is no danger from the propeller. Be aware that when boat engines idle, even in neutral, the propeller may still turn and injure the skier or entangle and cut the tow lines. If a skier falls and is injured, you must proceed with caution. Any injury might be aggravated by pulling the person aboard. It is best to get into the water to support the skier until the nature of the injury is known.

What the skier should know

A skier should be alert for cross-wakes, partially submerged objects, swimmers, or anything that might come between them and the boat. It is recommended that you wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device designed for water-skiing at all times. This will allow you to rest in the water while waiting for the boat, it protects the rib cage and cushions falls. Its bright color will make you more visible to others in the area. Ski belts are not Coast Guard-approved and do not offer positive protection to a fallen or injured skier.

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