A day out on the ocean can be memorable and fun if you’re using your boat for tow sports. However, if you haven’t done your due diligence when it comes to rider safety, your sportsboat could end up seriously hurting someone. Sports like waterskiing and wakeboarding can be tremendous fun as long as everyone is watching and communicating. If you’re distracted at the wheel, or even if you’ve purchased the wrong trolling motor batteries for boats, your rider could end up taking a painful spill. Keeping things safe onboard, however, doesn’t have to be a struggle. If you have all the ropes and tools you need and have a bunch of friends and family onboard looking out for each rider, you should be able to enjoy a fun day of tow sports without any stress or drama. If you’re not confident about how to safely enjoy watersports on your boat, here are a few tips to help you stay protected on the water.
1. Keep an Eye Out
While it’s not the easier thing to steer your boat and keep an eye on your rider at the same time, you’ll need to be somewhat skilled with this type of multi-tasking if you’re planning on taking your friends and family out to participate in watersports. Not only will you want to pay attention to your rider to make sure you’re catching their signals and keeping them safe, you’ll also want to find non-verbal ways to communicate with your rider once they’re hitting their stride. Since different watersports require different speeds and different rope types, you might need to experiment to figure out what works best. That means a lot of trial runs and backward falls, which in turn means that you’ll have to be alert and ready to pick your rider up after they’ve fallen. Even though falling back into the water during tow sports isn’t dangerous in and of itself, it can be disorienting, and if you’re not ready to pick your rider back up safely, they could spend more time than they’d like just trying to re-orient themselves after a fall. For best results, keep a lookout and stay as focused as you can on your rider at all times.
2. When In Doubt, Idle
When a fall happens, a tube flips over, or anything else goes awry, don’t worry. All you need to do once a rider falls is put the engine in “idle” mode in order to keep things as safe as possible. While it might seem to make more sense to kick the engine into high gear and circle back quickly to retrieve your rider, this could actually make matters worse. When your engine is on high, it’s going to create waves that will hit your fallen rider when they’re down, as well as create tension that could end up pulling your rider toward your boat’s propeller, which is something you want to avoid at all costs. Once your rider is down, simply turn your engine off and make a wide circle back to keep your rider protected.
3. Chart Your Territory
With any boating expedition, you don’t want to go into unfamiliar territory if you’re planning on going a long distance or bringing along riders for swimming or watersports. In general, it’s a good idea to take your guests to an area you’re already familiar with, especially if you’re new to tow sports. Even if the water looks fine, you don’t want to risk going into unexpectedly shallow waters with rocks and other obstacles for your rider. When in doubt, keep things close to home, but far enough out to sea to be able to cover a good amount of ground.
4. Have a Spotter On Hand
As the driver, you should be in communication with your rider at all times. However, since it’s not realistic for you to keep taking your eyes off the course to look back at your rider, you should also have someone else on deck acting as a “spotter” for your rider. Just like at the gym, having a spotter ensures the safety of the person dealing with the machinery. Your spotter acts as a safeguard to make sure you and your rider are communicating and that everything is staying safe and fun.
5. Keep It Steady
When you’re on the water, you want to work on finding a good speed for each rider and maintaining it. Revving up your engine too fast will cause your riders to fall, and going too slow won’t give them enough power to stand up behind the boat. Try keeping your speed moderate in order to keep your riders on balance and hitting their stride.