At the lake, there’s only one thing better than being on a fast boat – flying behind it. With water skis, wakeboards, ski tubes, and other towables, proper attention to detail is as important as a good grip. Let’s go over the basics of getting your gear and hitting the water safely.
We’re talking about so much more than tubes here. Maybe in the old days Pop would pull an inner tube behind the boat, but today’s inflatable towables are designed with maximum fun in mind. For anywhere between 2 and 5 riders, ski tubes can be round, shaped like a batwing, built with individual seats, or just about anything else.
- Safety note: Never exceed the recommended capacity of your ski tube or the weight limit of your tow rope.
The technology and materials in today’s water skis is enough to knock you off your feet. The choices are nearly endless, but it’s safest to go with the best brands – O’Brien, Connelly, Airhead, Radar, etc.
- The most common choices for newer or novice skiers are combination skis. Combos have wider tips for easier control, and one ski is built with double bindings so you can switch to slalom when you’re ready.
The most important thing to consider when choosing a wakeboard is size. If your board isn’t long enough for your weight class, you won’t have enough float and definitely won’t have a good ride. Every board is rated individually for weight, but use this as a quick reference:
- Under 100 lbs.: Less than 130 cm.
- 90 – 150 lbs: 130 – 134 cm
- 130 – 180 lbs: 135 – 139 cm
- 170 – 250 lbs: 140 – 144 cm
- 200+ lbs: 144 cm and longer
You can also shop for wakeboards according to your skill level.
- Beginners should look for boards with continuous rockers or very smooth 3-stage rockers for maximum stability.
- If you’re crossing or clearing the wake, look at intermediate wakeboards designed for different types of riders to start developing your style.
- Advanced boards are just like those used by the pros, and might feature progressive 3-stage rockers, high-tech bindings, and more. If you’re confident on the water and ready to take it to the next level, these are for you.
Riding behind a powerboat is a thrill like no other, but there are obvious and important safety concerns. These simple guidelines are rules of thumb, but it’s paramount that you also follow all advised actions regarding your boat and the body of water you’re on. Here are some basic safety tips:
- Personal flotation device (PFD)
PFDs are absolutely mandatory for every rider, and recommended for everyone on the boat.
The captain of your boat must remain aware at all times. Be familiar with your boat and its capabilities and requirements, as well as the limits of your towable and the limitations of your rider.
- Use a spotter
Designate someone on the boat to watch the rider at all times. This will help the captain focus on the boat and the water.
Follow the rules
Every body of water has rules and regulations. They’re designed to make sure everyone has a good, safe boating experience. Please be alert, responsible, and sober.
Secure the tow line, check for signs of wear and tear on the line and your tube, and always get a “thumbs up” from your rider before doing anything.
You don’t have to have a motorboat to have fun on the water! Smaller, people-powered watercraft are ready for anything, whether you’re out to enjoy the sunrise, surprise the catch of the day, explore the river, or just get some exercise.
There are more choices than you might think when shopping for a “traditional” boat. A simple, cuts-through-the-water kayak or canoe is a design as old as time, but we’ve certainly improved upon it. Let’s look at the primary types and their uses.
- Recreational Kayaks: These are the ultimate “everybody” boat. Designed to take one or two riders out on the water for an easy, fun time, recreational ‘yaks may be molded plastic or wood.
- Fishing Kayaks: If you think you might bring dinner back with you on your kayak, make sure you have somewhere to put it. Fishermen need all their gear and extra storage space when they hit the water, and fishing kayaks are designed to keep it within arm’s reach.
- Inflatable Kayaks: Kayaks are long. Often they’re really long. Today’s incredible inflatable kayaks solve the transportation problem by allowing you to bring your boat in the car and pop it up to size on the spot. These aren’t flimsy, though – you’ll find the latest in a super-tough hard-body design.
- Canoes: To head out on the river in classic, meandering style, take a seat in a canoe. In traditional bent wood or more modern materials, there’s no better way to head down the river at whatever pace works for you.
The paddle boat is a true family watercraft. It’s as easy as riding a bike, and just as entertaining as a tandem. It’ll take two people to make it go straight, and pedal coordination is half the fun. Built of incredibly durable molded plastic, paddle boats are designed to take whatever your family can dish out through plenty of summer seasons.
Derived from lifeboats, inflatable dinghies are designed to be flexible and fun. These medium to large boats can be manually paddled or easily outfitted with a small outboard motor to move quickly through lakes, rivers, or inland waters. A dinghy can be an easy way to get to the perfect fishing spot.
Stand up paddle boards offer a fun and relaxing way to get a full-body workout. They can be used in various bodies of water from the ocean to lakes and rivers.
Reminiscent of surfing, wakesurfing is the act of trailing behind a boat and riding the wake without actually being pulled by the boat.
Think all you can do in the water is swim? Think again. There’s virtually no limit to aquatic adventure, and today’s incredible selection of floating inflatables proves it. The only real way to get a handle on the possibilities is to browse what’s out there, but here’s a quick look.
Swimming and jumping are like peanut butter and jelly. Trampolines are a great way to add both high-flying excitement and cool lounging space to your waterfront property. There are two main types: water trampolines and bounce platforms.
- A true water trampoline has a steel frame and springs around the edges – they’ll provide the most bounce and highest weight capacities.
- A bounce platform isn’t as springy but it’s much less expensive.
And don’t forget water trampoline accessories! Add-ons start to turn your single trampoline into the centerpiece of a full-fledged water park.
Yep, you read that right. Inflatable water parks. From relatively small attachments to your existing boat or trampoline to 14-foot iceberg climbing mountains, you’ll be splashed to see all that you can do on the water. If you run a business anywhere on the lake, be sure to check out commercially rated waterpark accessories for a surefire summer attention-getter.