Taking the family tubing behind the boat or personal watercraft (PWC)? Is there anywhere the kids would rather be? Doubtful! Tubing behind a boat is great family fun, it’s a hit with all ages and abilities and a great place to start the kids off before transitioning them to wakeboarding or water skiing.


What Is Tubing Behind A Boat?

Tubing is a popular water activity where riders are towed on an inflatable tube. Whether you are towing behind a boat or personal watercraft, towing a tube requires knowledge as well as attention to safety by the driver and observer as well as the riders being towed.

How to tow a tube behind a boat

How far should the tube be behind the boat?

When towing behind a boat or personal watercraft, the tube must be the minimum distance of at least 7 metres behind the boat or personal watercraft, there are towing ropes specifically for tubing available.

Can you pull two tubes behind a boat? 

It is not advisable, especially due to making turns. Let us explain what happens: a sharp turn which essentially shortens the outside rope will cause the tubes to be at different distances from the boat, meaning they won’t simply knock, instead, the rope will cut across the closer tube which has the potential to cause some nasty damage to the rider/s. Keep things safe on the water - don’t do it.

Instead, get a tube that can fit multiple riders keeping aware that you:

  • Must not tow more than three people at once in South Australia.
  • Riders must wear a personal floatation device when being towed

Safety precautions for tubing

Be mindful of local regulations, lifejacket rules and the speed limits of your waterway.

Wearing the proper gear for tubing is also important for comfort when spending a day on the water, kids especially can get cold after getting wet while on the tube. Weather conditions can change quickly and it can take time to get your vessel back to the boat ramp when caught out so it is best to be prepared.

Speed for tubing

Always start at a slow speed to let riders get comfortable before increasing it. Follow any speed limits and local regulations or guidelines regarding water sports.

Lifejacket rules for tubing

Safety first! Ensure everyone on the tube wears a properly fitted life jacket. 

Children must wear a lifejacket at all times on the water.

Lifejackets must be an approved type that meets Australian standards:

  • Level 50S or above on enclosed waters
  • Level 100 or above on open waters.

Always have an observer

You must water tube with an observer who is responsible for watching and communicating with the tube riders being towed and alerting the skipper of any safety issues. This applies to boats as well as to personal watercraft (unless towing in surf).

Water tubing hand signals

Brief riders on hand signals to communicate with the observer on board. Make sure the observer is also keeping an eye on facial expressions, as children who become scared can struggle to take their hand off the handles in order to make a signal.

  • Thumb up or palm up = Speed Up.
  • Thumb down or palm down = Slow down.
  • Vertical flat hand facing the boat = Stop.
  • Create a circle with pointer finger and thumb (ok signal) = Speed OK or I'm OK.
  • Hand pointed left = Turn left.
  • Hand pointed right = Turn right.

Only tube in good conditions

Selecting a safe tubing area is key. Ensure the water is deep enough and free from obstacles like rocks or other watercraft. Follow any local regulations or guidelines regarding water sports. Keep an eye on the weather, avoiding tubing in choppy or stormy conditions.

Where to get tubing gear?

Ready to hit the water? Visit Elite Ski Boats for all your tubing needs. From top-quality life jackets and buoyancy suits to ropes and handles, we've got you covered for a great day on the water.

Gear up with Elite Ski Boats!

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of tube do I need for tubing?

Multi-rider tubesare great for families that want to pull a group of kids or even multiple adults. They have multiple handles and are a bit bigger and sturdier enabling them to take more riders.

What clothing should I wear when tubing?

Aspring suit is ideal for water tubing, otherwise sturdy swimwear that isn’t likely to get dragged off by the water if you fall off the tube! Make sure to follow regulations for your state and weara life jacket while tubing.

What shoes should I wear when tubing?

Wetsuit booties or reef shoes are recommended especially in rivers and lakes where there is potentially submerged tree branches and/or rocks below the surface.

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