A widely loved water activity that gets the adrenaline pumping and the heart racing – Tubing. Flying through the water with the wind in your hair and the ocean spray in your face. It doesn’t get better for many.
Tubing aficionados all swear by their own techniques and methods. Let’s try and take a little bit of a technical look at one of these methods.
Are jet skis a good option when it comes to pulling tubes in the water?
First, a look at the basic facts. 110 horsepower is the minimum requirement for a jet ski to tow weight of 91 kilograms. Anything less than that would lead to excess strain on the engine, causing damages to it.
Let’s take a look at some of the things to keep in mind before using jet skis on your next fun-filled tubing adventure:
1. How do you pick the right jet ski?
The first and most important thing to remember while picking a jet ski is that it needs to be powerful. Apart from its normal cruising duties, it needs to be able to carry the extra weight that you add on to it with the tube.
Do some thorough research. Spend time reading about different jet ski manufacturers, their various makes, and the specs of all these makes. Apart from doing your reading, you could also visit a dealer and speak to them about your requirements.
There are three important characters that need to be considered while using a jet ski for tubing. The rider of the jet ski, the person on the tube, and a ‘spotter.’ A spotter is the person sitting with the rider on the jet ski, whose job it is to watch the people tubing.
Most states have regulations that require a spotter to be present if a jet ski is being used for pulling the tube. In some states like Texas, having rearview mirrors that are 4 inches tall and 4 inches wide is enough, and the spotter isn’t required.
Remember that the jet ski needs to be able to seat all these people for it to be safe and legal to use jet skis for tubing.
Let’s take a little bit of a closer look at those seating capacity regulations:
The total number of people who are seated on the jet ski and who are going tubing must not cross the seating capacity of the jet ski. So, in essence, the bare minimum seating capacity you would require from a jet ski is three. One person riding the jet ski, one spotter, and the other person who is going tubing.
In a case where the jet ski has only a capacity of two, then installing rearview mirrors that are of regulation size and in the right spot could mean that only one rider and one person going tubing is enough.
As you all know, tubing is an activity enjoyed with companions. It’s fun alone, too, but you know it’s just a riot when you have one of your buddies up there on the tube with you.
So, if you were to take one of your friends along on the tube, the ideal jet ski would be one with a seating capacity of four people. This would allow one rider, one spotter, and two people going tubing.
Some safety precautions to keep in mind while using a jet ski for pulling your tube:
Always remember that more than one person on the tube increases the risk of injury. So while it may be more fun, keep the risk factor in mind.
All persons involved must be wearing life jackets/preservers. This includes the rider of the jet ski, the spotter (if there is one), and those being pulled on the tube. If there is more than one person on the tube, it is strongly recommended to wear helmets. The majority of tubing accidents occur due to the tubers not wearing helmets.
What’s the weight situation going to be like?
Consider that you have just gone out and bought yourself a shiny new jet ski. Packed with power and a seating capacity of 4. A couple of your friends say they want to see how it’ll fare on a tubing run. Before you jump right into it, make a few calculations in your head about the weights involved.
It could be the difference between a completely harmless and fun tubing experience and the complete opposite of that.
The majority of jet skis will weigh somewhere in and around 450 kilograms. So it’s crucial that the balance of weight is spot on. So if a significant weight on the tube whips, yanking the jet ski from one side to another, there is a very high chance of an accident. In some cases, the drivers of the jet skis have been thrown clean off.
A jet ski is capable of pulling large weights. But just because it can, it doesn’t mean it should. Seeing as how the jet ski is not a vehicle that is very large in size, the weight that it is pulling has a lot of influence on the jet ski itself. Keeping that in mind, it would be a lot safer to have kids tubing while pulling with a jet ski, as opposed to full-sized adults.
Jet Skis vs. Boats – Which goes better with tubing?
Now the first comparison being made here would be the price. Obviously, it would set you back a lot further if you chose to invest in a boat rather than a jet ski.
A brand new boat would cost you anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000. Whereas you could get a good jet ski starting somewhere at around $5,000. The most expensive jet ski won’t cost you more than $20,000. So the thought of the boat burning a hole in your pocket is enough for most people to choose the jet ski.
Even when it comes to used models, you would have to search as far back as models from the 80s and 90s to see actual significant reductions in costs for boats. However, for jet skis, even a five-year-old model would be much cheaper than the newest model on the market.
Now let’s look at the size. The jet ski holds a considerable advantage over the boat when it comes to storability. As per the United States Coast Guard regulations, any water vehicle that has to be classified as a jet ski needs to be under 13 feet long.
This means that storage becomes much less of a headache when you own a jet ski as opposed to a boat. Not many people have space in their homes to store a boat, so they end up having to pay to store it at the marina or at a facility. Even transportation to and from your local water body becomes a hassle.
For transportation of boats and jet skis, you need appropriate vehicles and trailers attached. With the large weight difference between jet skis and boats, you can even transport your jet ski using your car. Most sedans can pull weights of up to 450 kilos.
On the water, jet skis are far more maneuverable. Their smaller size means more room for improvisation once you’re on the water. You can even use them in smaller bodies of water where a boat may not have the space necessary to operate.
The internal jet propulsion system of the jet ski allows you to take the jet ski right up to shore, within only a few feet of water, without causing it any damage. This makes it a lot easier to switch between riders and passengers.
While boats with internal propulsion systems are available on the market, climbing on and off a boat is a significantly harder task than doing so on a jet ski.
How do you pick the right place to go jet ski tubing?
Once you’ve picked the right jet ski and have all your safety measures in place, it’s now time to pick the right place. Lakes, oceans, and rivers are all viable options.
While you are scouting for locations, make sure that there is enough room for the tube to be pulled around. Jet skis are a lot easier to maneuver than boats, but they still need adequate space to be safely operated for both the vehicle and the riders.
Ensure that the water is deep enough in the area you choose to go tubing. Rocks, logs, trees, and sand bars are all hazards. These could cause serious injuries to the rider and those being towed. Watch out for other jet skis, boats, and buoys.
One crucial duty of the spotter is to ensure that the driver is aware of anyone that is in the water. At any instance of someone falling off the tube, the spotter must raise his hand to ensure that no other boats or jet skis approach the immediate area—ideally, the spotter would be equipped with an orange flag to ensure visibility to the vehicles in and around the area.
What kind of equipment do you need for jet ski tubing?
Getting the right gear and equipment for tubing is very important. This begins with the rope used for pulling.
There’s a lot of factors that count towards a rope being a ‘good rope’ for pulling a tube. It’s not just about walking down to your nearest hardware store and picking up a length of rope. Most ropes have a breaking strength that you can enquire about.
If you choose to buy used rope, you have to do a very thorough inspection of it. Used ropes may have weak spots on them, which can cause them to snap suddenly. This is a very real danger.
Always try to pick up the rope that is brightly colored. Fluorescent colors are a good choice. Most water bodies have a shade of bright blue. With the abundance of blue and the spray of the water, it’s very easy to lose sight of the rope. A nice, brightly colored roped will give you extended visibility.
Check if your rope floats. In general, ropes aren’t very buoyant, but there are floating devices available that will help to keep your rope out of the water.
Once you’ve found the right kind of rope, with the right color and the right strength, the next thing to remember is, always keep the rope out from under the jet ski. There is always a risk of the rope getting caught under the jet ski and getting tangled up with the propulsion unit.
The spotter has a very key role to play in controlling the slack of the rope.
Where do you attach the rope to your jet ski?
There are a few options when it comes to choosing where to attach the rope to your jet ski. Some models of jet skis come with the option of attaching something known as a ski pylon. This is basically a pole that you can attach the rope to ensure that the rope stays above the surface of the water. However, these are more geared towards activities like jet skiing and wakeboarding, so they won’t be much help for tubing.
Most of the jet skis available today have a tow hook that is underneath the seat, on the back of the vehicle. If you use this, you don’t have to go through the trouble of installing a ski pylon, and the built in tow hooks have a much heavier weight carrying capacity.
While you attach the rope to the tube, make sure you’ve done due diligence and follow all the appropriate instructions. Ensure that the equipment you use is the right one. Use tubes that are made for tubing. Don’t cut any corners when it comes to the safety procedures.
What does jet ski tubing feel like?
Well, to answer that question in one word, it’s amazing. The use of a jet ski for tubing as opposed to a boat doesn’t minimize the fun involved at all. In fact, procedures and installation are much easier.
With modern jet skis capable of reaching high speeds, it’s going to be a thrill a minute ride for sure, provided you have someone willing to ride the jet ski and pull the tubers along.
If you’ve made sure to check all your equipment, take necessary precautions and choose the right place to go tubing, you’re going to have a whale of a time.
Kids and adults alike will have the time of their lives racing along on the tube, being towed by their friends and family on jet skis. It’s an activity that you will remember for a very long time. It’s also so much fun, you’ll want to go back out on the water every chance you get!
Water sports are always extremely fun and an absolute thrill of a ride. It’s a great way to pass some time and in the heat of summer, and even better past time. So if you and your friends are water lovers, why not invest in a jet ski so you can spend hours of unparalleled joyriding around in the water and towing each other around on tubes?
Imagine it’s a weekend, you’ve got your buddies along, and you all hit the water for a day of fun and frolic. You hop on your jet ski, and your buddy jumps on the tube. It’s going to be a thrilling ride. Make sure to switch places, so you get a chance to hop on the tube, too!
There seems to be a general consensus that when it comes to tubing and other related water sport activities, the first rule is to ‘just have fun.’ Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The first rule is always safety. Safety for the rider, safety for the tubers, and also safety for anyone else that may be in the water in and around you.
It’s very easy to overlook safety precautions when everyone is having fun. All it takes is one small slip up for the whole experience to go sour. It may take up some extra time, but check, check, and recheck. Make sure that all safety precautions are in place so that your experience will be fun and only fun. It’s important to remember rules and regulations while you have the time of your life.
Another thing to remember is, don’t cut costs when it comes to safety. As you’re well aware, you can’t put a value on human life. If there’s a rope that’s just a little bit more expensive but safer, invest in it. If there’s a helmet that’s a little above your budget, but guarantees better protection, buy it.
Saving a few dollars here and there will be completely redundant if you, your friends, or your family end up getting injured. Don’t cut any corners. If you are going out on the water, be confident of the fact that you have taken all necessary steps to make sure that while the experience will be fun, it will be one hundred percent safe, too.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way. Here’s the next rule to follow. Have fun! Have a great time! Forget about all your worries for a while. Take a day to get out on the water with your loved ones.
It’ll be a day that will live on amongst your best memories ever. Honestly. Once you’re out on that open water, there’s not much that can bring you down. Everything else can wait. Live in the moment. Live each moment.
So now that you’ve had a chance to do some comprehensive reading about jet ski tubing, when are you planning your next session? Why delay it? Make it tomorrow!