You have some friends who like to go tubing, or riding on an inner tube while a watercraft pulls them. Most of the time, this watercraft is a boat, but it doesn’t have to be. Recently, maybe your friends asked if you can pull their tube on your jet ski. Can you?
Yes, a jet ski can pull a tube, at least in most instances. You should have a jet ski that can achieve between 60 and 110 horsepower (HP) but not too much horsepower, such as 300 HP. You also have to keep the following considerations in mind:
- How many seats your jet ski has
- How fast it can go
- Whether it has a broad power band
- The weight limit of your jet ski
- Accidentally sucking up the tow rope
- The legalities of pulling a tube
In this article, I will expand on the above points, making sure you know all the rules and risks when pulling a tube on your jet ski. I’ll even share some tips to maximize the fun for both yourself and your friends riding the inner tube. Let’s begin!
Can a Jet Ski Pull a Tube
As I mentioned in the intro, a jet ski can often pull a tube. I say often because it’s not a guaranteed thing. Certain jet skis are better for the job than others. For instance, you need enough power for towing, which I’ll talk more about in the next section.
You also need a sizable jet ski, so stick to those personal watercrafts that can hold up to three passengers. Besides that, you want to make sure your jet ski has decent mid-range and bottom-end power as well as a broad power band.
Why does all this matter? Well, you’re not out for a joyride when you pull tube riders on your jet ski. You want to maintain a speed that’s both exciting and safe for everyone, so about 20 miles per hour (MPH). With a broader power band, you can maintain throttle control for longer periods. This will let you stay closer to 20 MPH for the duration of your ride.
If your jet ski lacks that broad power band, then you might find that you constantly go faster or slower than you want. This makes being towed less fun, and potentially dangerous. Sudden bursts of speed or quick stops could cause the tube riders to lose their grip and fall into the water.
It’s not about having the fastest jet ski when towing others, then. Instead, it’s all about maintaining an even speed.
Considerations When Towing Tube Riders
Next, I want to talk about the points I covered in the intro in regards to towing tube riders. You must keep these in mind before your ride or you risk having the experience ruined.
The faster your jet ski can go, the more horsepower it usually has. Luckily, you don’t need a particularly fast jet ski nor one with great HP for towing tubes. As I talked about before, if your jet ski can reach at least 60 HP, then you can pull at least a single tube rider. Will it be a super heart-pounding ride? Not exactly. Having a base HP of at least 110 is better, but 60 HP will do.
Now, that might not make sense to you, at least not at first. Wouldn’t you need more power for pulling weight? Nope, trust me when I say you don’t. Anything close to 300 HP is just excessive. Not only that, but it’s probably not legal.
Oh yes, you didn’t think you could ride free without abiding by any state rules, did you? Depending on the state in which you’re riding your jet ski, the rules are different. In most cases, you must use a three-seat jet ski only when pulling a tube. Even a two-seater isn’t allowed, and a one-seat jet ski is definitely prohibited. That’s because you need to have two spare seats open. One is where the inner tube rider will sit and the other is for your spotter.
The spotter will ensure both the jet ski driver and the tube rider have a safe voyage on the water. Going without a spotter will often land you in trouble in many a state, so always have someone come with you for that purpose. It’s not worth risking it.
Besides the two spare seats, it’s also best if your jet ski has a mirror. You also have to follow the HP restrictions as set in place by state law. That’s why you shouldn’t try to pull a tube with a jet ski that gets anywhere near 300 HP. You’d probably get slapped with a penalty for doing it.
The Risk of Sucking up the Tow Rope
Inner tube riders sit on their tube and hold onto a tow rope that you tie to your jet ski. Then, you’re off! Well, it’d be nice if it were that easy, but sadly, it’s not always. You see, when you ride your jet ski, you tend to suck up a lot of the surrounding water. This isn’t something you notice too much, per se, especially when you’re paying attention to what’s in front of you in the water. It does happen each time you ride, though.
You can set your jet ski to neutral and you’re still going to suck up the water. It’s not just water, either. When something gets close to your jet ski’s intake, such as the tow rope, it’ll get sucked up. You can do your best to avoid this fate, but most jet skiers who pull tube riders will do it more than once. Okay, maybe a lot more than once.
You’re going to want to pull off and get out of the water in such an event. Then, you have to turn off your jet ski, let the engine cool down, and take the battery out. Next, you have to find the jet ski’s intake grate. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the rope right away. With one good tug, it might even come free.
That won’t happen every time. When it doesn’t, you need to cut the rope with a scraper or razor knife. This isn’t easy, especially if the rope winds itself around your jet ski’s engine or other components.
Jet Ski Weight Limits
Another important consideration, and arguably one of the most important, is your jet ski’s weight limit. Every jet ski on the market has a max weight capacity. As this tells you, that’s the most weight you can allow on your watercraft. Depending on the manufacturer and the model of jet ski you own, your weight limit might be as little as 350 pounds and as much as 600 pounds. Since you need a three-seat jet ski for towing, you’ll have a greater weight capacity than a single-seater or a two-seat watercraft.
Don’t just take my word for it. Look at your owner’s manual or go to the website of your jet ski manufacturer and figure out your watercraft’s exact weight limit. Then, make sure to stick to within that limit for the safety of yourself, your spotter, and your inner tube rider.
Tips for Tubing Behind a Jet Ski
Okay, so you’ve read through to this point and you’ve decided you’d still like to pull an inner tube rider. You have a three-seater jet ski with a broad power band. You also know the state rules where you want to ride.
To have a safe, awesome, memorable time, make sure you check out these tips.
Invest in a Shock Tube
Remember before how I talked about the likelihood of your jet ski accidentally sucking up the inner tube’s tow rope? What if I told you that you can avoid such a situation with a certain product? It’s true!
A shock tube such as this one from Airhead is what you need. Their Impeller Protector prevents the tow rope from getting lodged up near the impeller of your jet ski. It’s 24 inches, so it’s sure to safeguard your jet ski from all sides. This shock tube is made of a cell foam tube with a nylon cover. Your passengers will have less kick-back from a suddenly pulled ski rope as well.
Get a Booster Ball, Too
Another accessory you’ll want is a booster ball. Try SportsStuff’s towable booster ball, a favorite among watersports enthusiasts. This helps your jet ski’s fuel economy while providing better shock absorption. Oh, and you have less drag as well.
The SportsStuff booster ball has a nylon cover, a durable PVC bladder, and an easily accessible safety valve. You also get quite a lengthy tow rope with the booster ball, one that’s 60 feet.
Get a Longer Tow Rope
Speaking of the tow rope, you want to ensure yours is a long one. This way, you have less chance of the rope getting sucked up. While a 60-foot tow rope like that that comes with the SportsStuff booster ball is nice, I’d recommend getting a rope that’s even longer. One that’s 100 feet will work much better. Make sure you use the shock tube as well to keep the rope out of your intake.
As a jet ski owner, you can pull an inner tube rider, but you do want to keep some things in mind. For instance, you need a three-seater jet ski with a broad power band for maintaining a consistent speed. Most states insist you have a spotter ride with you. You must also make sure you use a shock tube so you don’t suck up the tow rope in your jet ski. Good luck!