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Course Outline

Observer with orange flag watching persons being towed

Vessel operators towing a person(s) on water skis, an aquaplane, or any other device have specific equipment and observer requirements.

  • Every person being towed behind a vessel on water skis or other devices must wear a USCG–approved PFD. Inflatable PFDs may not be used by those being towed. Keep in mind that ski belts are not USCG–approved.
  • Every vessel towing a person(s) on water skis or other devices must have on board, in addition to the operator, a person at least 8 years old who is observing the person(s) being towed and reporting the progress of the person(s) under tow to the operator.
  • If towing a person on water skis or another device, the vessel must be rated to carry at least all persons on board plus those being towed.
    • You may not exceed the vessel’s recommended carrying capacity as defined by the manufacturer.
    • If towing a skier with a PWC, the PWC must be rated for at least three people—the operator, the observer, and the retrieved skier.
  • Vessels towing person(s) on water skis or other devices must display an international orange skier-down flag whenever the towed person(s) has fallen into the water or is preparing to ski.
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  • Topic 14 of 19
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