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Florida Towed Water Sports & Water Skiing Laws

November 30, 2022

Towed water sports are a category of aquatic activity that involves a person using a device such as a board or skis to aquaplane while being towed behind a vessel or PWC. Towing activities include wakesurfing, kneeboarding, water skiing, and more. Being towed behind a vessel can be dangerous, particularly in adverse conditions, so it’s important to follow all required safety measures and regulations in order to mitigate the risk.

Required safety measures for water skiing and towing activities in Florida

Keeping a lookout

When towing someone on water skis or another aquaplaning device, the towing vessel or personal watercraft (PWC) must have either:

  • an observer on board dedicated to looking out for the person being towed, OR
  • a wide-angle rear-view mirror the operator can use to watch the person being towed.

Life jackets

Anyone who is water skiing or using another type of aquaplaning device is required to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket approved by the United States Coast Guard. Inflatable PFDs are not permitted for water skiing and aquaplaning.

Restrictions on water skiing and towing activities in Florida

Time of day

According to Florida boating laws, all water skiing and aquaplaning activities are prohibited from half an hour past sunset to half an hour before sunrise.

Alcohol use

It is illegal to water ski or use any other aquaplaning device while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Florida, boating under the influence is a serious offense that can lead to heavy fines and even jail time, depending on blood alcohol level, priors, resulting injuries and other factors.

Reckless operation

When towing someone, the vessel operator must not maneuver so close to a fixed object or vessel that the person being towed is in danger of colliding with it and resulting in a boating accident.

Boat in compliance with state law with Drive a Boat USA

Boating laws are in place to keep everyone safe on Florida’s waterways. Taking a US boat safety course is a great way to learn everything you need to know about boating regulations and safety measures, and the state of Florida requires it for motorized vessel operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1988.

Studying with Drive a Boat USA is a convenient way to learn the material you need to pass the Florida boat exam and obtain your boater education ID card. Start our course today!