It's the Law


Vessel operators towing a person(s) on water skis, an aquaplane, or any similar device have additional laws.

Requirements for Towing Skiers


All persons being towed behind a vessel on water skis or any other device must wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD. Inflatable PFDs and ski belts are not approved PFDs for water-skiing.

Every vessel towing a person(s) on water skis, an aquaplane, or any similar device other than a parasail must have either:

  • A person on board, in addition to the operator, observing the towed person(s) at all times or…
  • A wide-angle rearview ski mirror designed to allow the operator to observe the towed person at all times. Note that factory-installed mirrors on PWC normally do not meet this requirement.

Every vessel towing a person on a parasail or similar device must have a person, in addition to the operator, observing the towed person(s) at all times. Rearview mirrors are not acceptable when towing persons on parasails.

If towing a person on skis or other device, a vessel without a mirror must be rated to carry at least three people—the operator, the observer, and the retrieved skier. You may not exceed the vessel's recommended carrying capacity (including the retrieved skier).

Persons may be towed behind a vessel on water skis, an aquaplane, a parasail, or any similar device during the hours of one half-hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset only.

A reasonable distance must be maintained from a person in the water, another vessel, a bridge, a wharf, a pier, a dock, a buoy, a platform, a piling, or a channel marker. It is illegal to cause the person being towed to collide or be likely to collide with any object or person.

Hand Signal – Skier OK
Hand Signal – Stop
Hand Signal – Skier Down
Hand Signal – Speed Up
Hand Signal – Slow Down
Hand Signal – Speed OK
Hand Signal – Turn Left
Hand Signal – Turn Right