Towing a Person With a Vessel Legally
Vessel operators towing a person(s) on water-skis, aquaplane or any other device must also obey these laws:
- 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.
- The operator of a vessel towing a person on water-skis or other devices is responsible for maintaining a safe course with proper lookout. It is illegal to operate or manipulate the towing vessel, tow rope, or other device in such a way as to cause the towed device or towed person(s) to collide with or strike any object or person(s).
- Utah law requires that vessels towing person(s) on water-skis or similar devices carry and use an international orange “skier down” flag, at least 12 x 12 inches in size and mounted on a handle. The observer must continuously observe the person(s) under tow and display a “skier down” flag whenever a person is in the water after falling or while preparing to ski. The flag must be displayed such that it is visible from all directions.
- Utah law prohibits a vessel operator from towing a person(s) on water-skis or other devices within a no-wake zone surrounding a marina or launch ramp.
- Operators may not have an engine on, even at idle, while a person is occupying or holding onto the vessel’s swim platform, swim deck, swim step, or swim ladder. Also, a person may not be towed within 20 feet of the vessel unless the person is in a standing position.
- If towing a person on skis or other 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.
- Every person being towed behind a vessel on water-skis or other devices must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved personal flotation device (life jacket). Inflatable PFDs may not be used by those being towed. Keep in mind that ski belts are not U.S. Coast Guard–approved.
- It is hazardous and illegal for vessels to tow a person(s) on water-skis or other devices at night (between sunset to sunrise).
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.