It's the Law


Vessel operators towing a person(s) on water skis or a 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 U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)–approved Type I, II, or III personal flotation device (PFD). Ski belts are not approved PFDs.

Every vessel towing a person(s) on water skis or any other device must have a person who is at least 12 years old on board, in addition to the vessel operator, in a position to observe the towed person(s).

If towing a skier with a personal watercraft (PWC), the PWC should be rated for at least three people—the operator, the observer, and the skier.

A reasonable distance from other vessels, people, and property must be maintained so as not to endanger life or property. Unless necessary for landing or leaving shore, it is illegal to cause the towed device or person being towed to approach within 100 feet of:

  • A person swimming
  • A canoe, rowboat, or other small vessel with a person on board

Some areas less than 200 feet from the shoreline may be designated for water-skiing. These areas may have special rules governing their use (see “Lake-Specific Rules Regulating the Use of Particular Public Waters”).

towing a wakeboard
Observe towed person(s) at all times.