Towing

Towing a water-skier, wakeboarder, kneeboarder or other towable device requires the use of a spotter. A spotter is a person who observes the person being towed at all times. The spotter notifies the driver if there is a need for a change in speed and/or direction as indicated by the skier’s hand signals. The spotter can also notify the driver in case of emergency.

Boat towing a waterskier with a spotter on board

The driver should never watch the skier. The driver should always concentrate on driving the boat in a safe manner, keeping well clear of other boats, skiers, swimmers and hazards.

Safe Boating Tip
When ‘dropping off’ a water-skier at the dock, do not run parallel to the shore in shallow water. Keep your distance and let the person swing into shore. This will ensure the person being towed does not hit bottom or any underwater hazards.

Rules and Regulations

Waterskier being towed behind a boat

Obey the following rules when towing a water-skier–it’s the law:

  • A spotter must be in the boat at all times
  • The towing vessel must be equipped with an extra seat for each person that is being towed in case an emergency recovery is necessary
  • Only personal watercraft designed to carry three or more people can be used for towing a water-skier
  • The person being towed must wear an approved flotation device (a ‘ski belt’ is not considered to be an approved flotation device)
  • The towing vessel cannot be operated by remote control
  • Do not tow water-skiers between one hour after sunset to sunrise
  • It is a criminal offence, as governed by the Criminal Code of Canada, to tow a person after dark

Hand Signals

Both the spotter and the person being towed must understand and be able to communicate using these standardized hand signals:

  • Speed OK
  • Turn Left
  • Turn Right
  • Ok
  • Retrieval
  • Stop
  • Slower
  • Faster
  • Back to dock