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Towed Water Sports in Florida

Any person who is being towed behind a boat in an activity such as water skiing, kneeboarding, tubing, or when a passenger of the boat is being pulled behind a boat, is considered involved in the activity of water skiing and is required to wear a lifejacket.

Observer 

Any person who operates a vessel that is towing a person on skis or other aquaplaning device must have an observer on board who shall at all times watch the person being towed or the towing vessel must be equipped with a wide angle rear view mirror. The vessel operator shall at all times watch the traffic pattern in the zone of operation.  The observer and the operator must be two different people.

The observer must:

  • Continuously keep his or her eye on the skier or skiers;
  • Inform the operator of the boat that is towing the skier or skiers as soon as they are no longer being towed;
  • Raise the skier-down flag when a person is in the water preparing to ski or to return to the ski boat.

As a team of 3, the boat operator, skier, and observer must learn the skills for safe skiing. You should know the following before heading out: 

  • All persons being towed are required to wear a non-inflatable, USCG-approved personal flotation device (PFD) approved by and used in accordance with the U.S. Coast Guard label.
  • No one may wear an inflatable PFD
  • Water skiing and aquaplaning is only allowed from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour past sunset. Water skiing or aquaplaning is prohibited at night.
  • It is illegal to pass the towline over another vessel, as well as to navigate between the vessel and the person being towed
  • It is illegal to tow a skier so close to a fixed object or another vessel that there is risk of collision
  • As well as the operator, an observer is required to be on board when a person is being towed, or the operator must have and use a wide-angle rear-view mirror
  • No one may ski or use another aquaplaning device while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

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