Table of Contents

Download the PDF Version

It's the Law


Vessel operators towing a person on water skis, a surfboard, or any other device have additional laws.

Requirements for Towing Skiers


All persons being towed behind a vessel on water skis, surfboards, or any other device must wear a life jacket, which cannot be of inflatable design. Exception: Performers engaged in exhibitions or tournaments authorized by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife do not need to comply with this requirement. Please review Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife rules for trick water-skiing exemptions.

It is illegal for boat operators to tow persons on water skis, a surfboard, or any other device between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise. If the towing vessel is a PWC, it may tow between sunrise and sunset only.

Every vessel towing a person(s) on water skis, a surfboard, or any other device must have on board, in addition to the vessel operator, a responsible person at least 12 years of age in a position to observe the towed person(s) continuously. Exception: Vessels operating within a regulation slalom course and that are equipped with rear-view wide-angle mirrors are exempt from this requirement.

It is illegal to operate any vessel in a reckless manner. Specifically, it is illegal to operate a vessel towing a person(s) on any device:

  • Within 200 feet of any shoreline, including islands, unless operating in a manner that does not endanger any person or property while picking up or dropping off a person on water skis, surfboard, or other device
  • In a way that causes the device or the person on the device to move within 200 feet of any shoreline, including islands

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 should be rated to carry at least three people—the operator, the observer, and the person being towed.