Make (Safe) Waves This Summer

Tubing and water skiing are summer fun at its finest. While water skiing and wakeboarding take practice and a certain amount of bravery, riding a towable tube is easy for almost everyone. Like so many other fun things, though, water sports are not without risk. With a little knowledge and some common sense, you and your friends can stay safe while you have fun.

Wear it! Even strong swimmers can run into trouble, especially after a hard wipeout, so everyone who skis, boards, or tubes must wear a life jacket. Children riding on the boat are required by law to wear life jackets, and we recommend that adults do so, too. It's much better to be safe than sorry.

Spotters are not optional. Appoint a sober, wide-awake adult to watch those you're towing behind your boat. The spotter is in charge of relaying the rider's hand signals to the driver and alerting the driver when or if the rider falls. Make sure your riders know and understand the hand signals, too, before they take their turn.

Graphic: The Chartroom Graphic: The Chartroom

Speaking of being sober, please don't drink alcohol if you're going to ski, surf, or tube. It slows down reaction time, impedes your judgment, dehydrates you, and wrecks your balance. Stock your cooler with lots of water and sports drinks (or try some fancy mocktails) to keep yourself and your guests hydrated and happy. Especially watch kids for signs of dehydration and sunburn; they're often too busy having fun to remember to drink enough water or reapply sunblock.

Photo: White Birch Lodge Photo: White Birch Lodge

Know the rules of your "road." Most lakes seem to have an unwritten rule dictating that boats must travel around the lake in a counterclockwise direction. If you're towing a skier, it's best to travel in a straight line, turn 180 degrees at the end of your pass, and follow your original path back; this keeps the skier from running over the boat's wake. If you're pulling a tube or other inflatable, follow the counterclockwise rule.

On lakes where wake surfing is permitted, wakeboats also follow the counterclockwise travel rule. These boats are designed to make serious waves, and a strong wake kicked up too close to the docks can bounce moored boats around so much that their lines snap. Please be a good neighbor and "ride the core, avoid the shore," staying about 150 feet from docks and seawalls. Also watch out for kayaks, paddleboards, and other calm-water craft; an unexpected hit from a wake can quickly ruin someone's day.

Have fun!

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