News Releases

FWC wants boaters to stay safe while tubing

News Release

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Media contact: Katie Purcell, 850-459-6585

Inner tubes. Towables. Inflatable tubes. All are commonly used names for a popular boating item, and they come in many different shapes and sizes.

“Towed water sports can be a great way to enjoy Florida’s beautiful waterways,” said Maj. Richard Moore, head of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Boating and Waterways Section. “We just want everyone to be as safe as possible when doing so.”

Unfortunately, there have been several recent accidents around the state in which passengers on a towable device struck an object, such as a dock, channel marker, piling or other boat. Last year, five people were injured and two were killed during these types of accidents.

The FWC says these and other accidents can be prevented through a few key precautions, including one particularly important one.

“When you are operating a boat that is towing passengers on a tube or something similar, their fate is in your hands,” Moore said. “They are not able to steer themselves in a safe direction and must rely on you to keep them safe. The main safety consideration is keeping them away from all other objects.”

Although there is no required specific distance to keep away from fixed objects or other boats, operators should not pull the tuber close enough to anything where there is risk of collision.

Doing so could not only result in a citation but, more importantly, it puts the life of the person being towed in jeopardy.

“A good rule of thumb is this: Twice the line should be fine,” Moore said. “If you consider the length of your towline and are diligent in keeping your boat at least two lengths of your towline away from all boats and other objects, you are much more likely to provide your riders with an enjoyable, safe time on the water.”

The FWC says that these additional safety tips are very important as well:

  • Any riders being towed behind a vessel are required to wear a life jacket; however, it cannot be the inflatable style.
  • The boat operator must have another person onboard who can observe the rider(s) being towed and alert the operator of any issues. In place of the observer, the operator may use appropriate wide-angle rear-view mirrors. However, the safest bet is to use a “spotter” or observer. That way, the operator can concentrate on driving the boat and pay attention to what is in front of and around him or her. The spotter has a much better ability to watch the person being towed.
  • Boaters may pull riders on towable water sport items only during the day – from a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour past sunset.

The FWC wants to ensure that boaters can enjoy all that Florida’s waterways have to offer. For more boating information, go to MyFWC.com/Boating and click on “Boating Regulations” or “Safety & Education.”



FWC Facts:
Florida has nearly 1,300 native species of fish and wildlife.

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