Requirements to Tow a Person With a Vessel
In addition to adhering to laws as they apply to all vessels, operators towing a person(s) on water-skis or a similar device must follow these rules.
- Any person being towed behind a vessel must wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket. Exceptions are made for those performing or participating in an official regatta, marine parade, tournament, or exhibition.
- Inflatable life jackets are not approved for use while water-skiing.
- A water-ski wetsuit may be worn by any person engaged in barefoot, jump, trick, or slalom skiing on a marked course, as long as a USCG–approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket is carried on the tow vessel for each skier electing to wear a wetsuit.
- Every vessel towing a person(s) on water-skis or a similar device must have a person on board, in addition to the operator, who can observe the person being towed. This observer must be at least 12 years of age.
- If towing a skier with a PWC, the PWC should be rated for at least three people—the operator, the observer, and the retrieved skier.
- The operator of a vessel involved in towing a skier must display a red or orange ski flag whenever:
- A downed skier is in the water.
- A skier is in the water preparing to ski.
- A ski rope is extended from the vessel.
- A ski is in the water in the vicinity of the vessel.