Towing a Person With a Vessel Legally
Vessel operators towing a person(s) on water skis, a surfboard, or a similar device must obey these laws also.
- Every vessel towing a person(s) on water skis, a surfboard, or other device must have on board, in addition to the operator, a responsible person in a position to observe the progress of the person(s) being towed.
- All persons being towed behind a vessel on water skis, a surfboard, or other device must wear a USCG–approved personal flotation device (life jacket). Inflatable PFDs are not approved for use by persons being towed.
- A boat may tow a person(s) on water skis, a surfboard, or other device between sunrise and one-half hour after sunset only. If the towing vessel is a PWC, it may tow between sunrise and sunset only.
- It is illegal to operate any vessel in a careless, reckless, or negligent manner. Specifically, it is illegal to operate a vessel:
- At greater than 5 miles per hour (mph) within 100 feet of another vessel that is underway at 5 mph or less
- At greater than 5 mph within 50 feet of another vessel that is underway at greater than 5 mph
- A person may not operate a vessel if its capacity would be exceeded by the persons in the vessel plus the persons being towed. If towing a person with a PWC, the PWC must be rated to carry at least three people—the operator, the observer, and the person being towed.
- Exemptions to these regulations exist for performers engaged in professional exhibitions authorized by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
- It is recommended that boaters use a skier-down flag that is at least 12" x 12" in size and blaze orange in color. This flag should be raised into the air when the towed person(s) is in the water preparing to be towed or awaiting pick up by the towing vessel.