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How To Drive a Boat and Ski/Wakeboard Responsibly in Traffic


Here's how to remain safe while driving a boat and pulling a water-skier or wakeboarder in traffic.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Duration of Trip

Here's How:

  1. All boats should allow a minimum 100 foot ski area. Meaning, if two ski boats are in the same vicinity of each other they should be 200 feet apart.
  2. At least 2,000-3,000 feet in length should be allowed for the ski course to avoid excessive turning.
  3. Don't ski or wakeboard in water that is not at least five-six feet in depth. Shallow waterskiing increases chances of skis hitting bottom or the skier hitting unseen obstacles under water, resulting in injury.
  4. Stay clear of bridges, rocks, docks, beaches and swimming areas.
  5. Avoid skiing or wakeboarding when the water is rough or choppy. Such conditions can cause the skier to tire more quickly than usual.
  6. Never ski or wakeboard without an observer or spotter on board.
  7. Avoid using the ski(s) or wakeboard to spray water on other skiers, swimmers, or boats to prevent unintentional collisions.
  8. If a skier is being closely trailed by another boat the skier should remain inside the wake and refrain from performing any tricks until the trailing boat is clear.
  9. Never ski or wakeboard in the dark.
  10. When two power boats are approaching head-on, the general rule is that you should go starboard and pass port-to-port.
  11. When two boats are moving in the same direction, the rear boat may pass on either side, however, passing on the left side, as if driving a car on the road, is used if possible.
  12. When two power boats are approaching at right angles, and appear as if they will meet, the vessel on the right has the right-of-way and should maintain its course.
  13. Non-powered boats, such as sail boats and those propelled by oars or paddles have the right-of-way over power driven vessels.
  14. Never operate a boat or water ski or wakeboard while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  15. Observe no wake zones.


  1. Know and practice waterskiing hand signals.
  2. Designate someone in the boat to be in charge of getting the skier's equipment back in the boat and to be in charge of watching the ski rope.
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