Drive That Tube/Towable to Work Behind the Boat

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My Personal First-Time Tubing Experience

A tube (or water sports towable) can be one of the most enjoyable water toys fit for all ages. People with little or a lot of behind-the-boat skills can hop on and experience a thrilling ride. But getting to the thrilling part can be tough and frustrating if a towable or tube is a new accessory to your collection of equipment and you have no experience with towing one.

My tubing experiences began some years back when I was facing an upcoming summer filled with family and friends visiting me in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When they were not on the beach, they wanted to be on my boat. Some of the visitors were children who were too young or too small to strap on my combo skiis, but they wanted desperately to be involved in some sort of behind the boat activity. There were also a few adults who were just too chicken to try waterskiing. So, I ordered a fancy tube thinking this would be the perfect solution to entertaining these people. All they had to do was lay on it and hold on.

When it arrived I immediately inflated it and took some friends out to give the new toy a try. I took the wheel for the first attempts. Well, it certainly was easier than successfully yanking a rookie skier out of the water. Just give the boat gas and you are off.

My tubing companion was trying everything to get the tube to move from side to side and cross the wakes. No luck. Confident that I could make it work I suggested it was my turn. Still no luck. I was totally disgusted and disappointed that all we could get the tube to do was go straight. How boring!

At Last, Success!

I all but packed it back into the box and returned it when it dawned on me that, the boat driver must have something to do with getting the tube across the wakes. We raced back out to the water to give it a try. Bingo! All I had to do was steer the boat gently from side to side in a zig-zag fashion and it zips the tube back and forth across the wakes. Now, that is a fun ride.

At last, success. And the kids love it as well as the adults. It is just one of those exhilarating no-skill-required water toys.

Tubing Tips

  • Over my tubing years, I have gained some helpful knowledge and I'll share with you.
  • Always read warning indicators on the tube before you begin to check on weight, age, and speed limits and requirements.
  • Be constantly aware of your oncoming boat traffic. Never start to zig-zag your boat with another boat approaching. The oncoming boat driver may not see the tube you are pulling and mistake you for a reckless and out-of-control driver with no care to boating safety. Allow the boat to pass before you start turning from side to side.
  • Be aware of obstacles on each side of you so that you do not sling your tuber into a dock, another boat, or a piling.
  • When driving over boat wakes to slow your speed, especially if your tuber is laying stomach-down on the tube. Excessive bouncing can cause back injury.
  • When pulling two tubes take extra caution. Tubes crashing into each other can cause serious bodily injuries. I've seen some serious bloody crashes with dual tubers.
  • It is preferred for your rider to ride stomach down. If they ride in a sitting position, as speed increases, so does the chance of their knees bouncing into their head.
  • Never tube without a life vest.

The following tubing tips were submitted by Richard Frankhuizen:

"Many folks, especially new boaters tube for boating entertainment because it is easy. First, the boat driver is completely responsible for the safety of the tubers. Second, never slack the line. As for speed, it depends on water conditions and the age of the rider.

The slow speed for the little ones is important. Falling at excessive speeds off of the tube can cause injury with no added thrill factor. Laying on a tube so close to the water for a 10-year-old at 10 mph can seem much faster. The idea is to have fun, provide a thrill and not get injured. The rougher the water, the slower the boat should go. Too much bounce can also cause injuries and we certainly don't want that to happen."

See the below chart for suggestions on towing speeds for different ages.

Speed Suggestions

AGE Speed Miles Per Hour
5-11 8-10 mph
9-14 10-15 mph
13-16 13-20 mph
16-30 15-25 mph
30+ remember we got to go to work in the morning, so be careful.