Few watersports offer such sheer enjoyment as boat tubing. And the great thing is that it's so easy compared to, say, water skiing. This ease makes it suitable for all age groups and so a great activity for the whole family. Easy as it is, however, you need to take some precautions. Here a some pointers on how you can get the most out of your towable tubing experience.
First, let's look at what towables are. Essentially, the towing experience involves being pulled behind a boat in or on one of various types of “towables.” These boat towables can take a variety of forms but tubes are the most popular (like water ski tubes). Tubes come in a vast range of shapes and sizes, so our first tip is about buying your tube and the rope that connects it to the boat.
Towables are made of artificial fibres such as nylon, polyester, PVC or neoprene. Polyester is the most durable while neoprene is the most comfortable and most expensive. If you have kids, you might prefer the latter.
Next there's the matter of shape. Towables come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. The original design is the donut shape. This is most suitable for adults who can sit on top. However it's not so convenient for smaller people to sit on. Plus the donut rolls over easily making it unsuitable for young children.
Then there are deck tubes which are flat and delta shaped. These are great for multiple riders. These can flip over easily so they're most suitable for teenagers and young adults.
Next we have 'ride in' and 'ride on' tubes. The former are like small boats and so are perfect for small children and those requiring a gentler experience. 'Ride ons' are long narrow towables. Sometimes called torpedo style, these can sit up to six riders. So they're great for groups of young riders seeking speed and thrills.
Finally for extreme thrills there are the rocker towables which have wings. These are examples of concept tubes which are aimed at the thrillseeker.
As for the ropes that connect the towable to the boat, these are graded according to the number of riders allowed. Towable ropes should be 50 and 65 feet in length.
Now that you've bought your towable and rope, it's time to look at some tips for using them. First, always check any warning indicators on the tube. Read and obey the manufacturer’s specifications on such factors as the number of riders, their maximum size and weight, and the recommended top speed limits. Then the tubers should be instructed into how to position themselves on the tube. Don't forget they must always wear a personal flotation device while in the water.
The next thing to do is to find the right area of water for towing. To be safe, you should allow at least 100-feet of unobstructed water on either side of the boat and a minimum of 3000 feet in front. Aside from the driver, the boat should have a 'spotter' to check for riders who fall off. The spotter can then alert other boats in the area by waving a flag.
It's essential too that the boat handler be familiar with any regulations affecting that stretch of water you're on. Speed limits are influenced by water conditions. Wakes for example can be dangerous for towing so boat speeds should be reduced. And he must keep in mind the capabilities of the riders on the tube he's towing. There are various speed limits that apply to riders of different ages, for example.
If you follow these simples tips, you'll be assured of a safe and fun towable session. Towables, whether marine towables or freshwater, offer a genuine water sports experience for the whole family. In fact perfect activity for large groups of all kinds.