Pontoon boats are often called ‘party barges’ due to their high versatility. From cocktail parties to other recreational activities, pontoon boats seem like the ultimate multi-purpose boat. As a result of their rare features, many have wondered if these boats can also be used for watersports like skiing, wakeboarding, or tubing. Consequently, this has led to concerns about how to pull a tube behind a pontoon boat.
The high versatility of pontoon boats extends to watersports as many of them can easily pull a tube across the water. However, how fast a pontoon boat will go with a tube attached to it depends on a few factors. The user must consider the boat’s power engine, size, and the weight it has to pull. While pontoon boats do not typically have high horsepower, they can offer a fast and thrilling ride when conditions are right.
This guide aims to show readers how to pull a tube behind a pontoon boat effectively.
Can You Pull A Tube With A Pontoon Boat?
A pontoon boat with decent horsepower can comfortably pull a tube across the water at a safe speed. However, many pontoon boats do not have the massive horsepower. Plus, other factors like the number of passengers on the boat, the size of the boat, and the weight of people on the tube will affect how a pontoon boat pulls a tube.
Typically, a pontoon boat that has a top speed of 20 miles per hour can pull an inflatable tube, though, at a relatively slow speed. Newer pontoon boats have motors of 60hp, which can pull a small-sized tube at a basic level. To enjoy speed when pulling a tube with a pontoon boat, the boat has to have a minimum of 90hp. For even higher speed, the pontoon boat should have a larger motor of about 115hp.
Factors To Consider Before Pulling A Tube With A Pontoon Boat
Pontoon boats are unarguably great for recreational activities like hanging out with family, holding gatherings, or fishing. The versatility of pontoon tubes also makes them a good option for towing tubes and other watersports. However, before pulling a tube behind a pontoon boat, there are a few factors to consider. They are as follows:
The Boat’s Horsepower
Pontoon boats can work relatively well for tubing. However, they only reach an average speed of about 15-25 mph which may not suit high-speed tubing. Furthermore, the boat’s horsepower will determine whether or not it can pull a tube at all.
A 60-70hp pontoon boat can reach 10-15 miles per hour which might not be adequate for many adults. A boat with a 90hp engine, on the other hand, will reach 18-20 miles an hour which may be acceptable for some. However, many adults and teens will prefer a boat with a 115-150hp engine. This is because a 115 or 150hp boat will offer a more thrilling ride at about 25 mph.
The Number Of People On Board
Aside from the boat’s engine, it is also essential to consider how many people will be tubing. This is because the boat will have to work twice as hard if it pulls too many people on the tube. If the boat’s horsepower is low, even having two people riding in the tube will significantly reduce its speed.
Additionally, how much speed a pontoon boat will attain while pulling a tube depends on how many people are on the boat. Hence, it is advisable not to let more than two people board per session if the pontoon boat is slow.
Before deciding to go tubing with a pontoon boat, one must ensure that their pontoon has a tow bar. Without a tow bar, there is no way to attach the tow tube to the boat. Most pontoon tubes come with attaching points; however, some do not.
For pontoon boats without a tow bar, users can install it themselves or seek help from an expert. If the boat has a tow bar, it is still crucial to ensure that the tow bar is sturdy enough to carry the pressure of a tube. For a weak tow bar, the user can use some strong U-bolts on the boat’s transfom to tie the rope instead. Manufacturers also recommend using a harness with carabiners to hook the eyelet on each end.
The Boat’s Size
The tubing experience can be impacted by the size of the pontoon boat and how much weight it is carrying. For instance, if two people are on a 22-foot boat with a 150hp motor, and the boat is pulling only one person or little kids, they will get a high-speed ride.
However, if the boat is 16-foot with 115hp and many passengers are on board, the ride will be slower. Hence, it is essential to remember that even a boat with high horsepower will go slow if it pulls too much weight.
Equipment Needed For Towing A Tube To A Pontoon Boat
After considering the above factors, one must get all the needed equipment for towing the tube. Hence, before learning how to pull a tube behind a pontoon boat, the user must have the following;
The user must ensure to have a tow rope at hand. The rope should not be less than 50ft and no more than 65f. Also, check the ropes for any sign of fraying, sun damage, or knots before using.
The rope should have enough tensile strength to pull the tube safely. For instance, a one-rider tube will need a tow rope with a tensile strength of about 1500Ibs. If the boat lacks a tow bar and one uses a U-bolt, then a Y-harness can replace tow ropes.
Users must also ensure to get an appropriate towable. If the boat has a low horsepower, then a 1-2 rider towable is best-suited. However, if the boat has a horsepower of about 115-150, they can consider a multi-person towable tube. Whatever the case, it is crucial to remember not to exceed the tube’s weight limit for safety.
Protective gears like a helmet and a life jacket are essential for tubing. Helmets will protect the riders from head or brain injuries caused by head collisions during the ride. A life jacket or a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) will also protect riders in accidents.
How To Pull A Tube Behind A Pontoon Boat
Once all the necessary equipment is on the ground, then the user can go ahead to connect the tube to the boat.
Below is a step by step guide on how to pull a tube behind a pontoon boat
Get A Full Idea Of The Setup
To reduce the chances of mishaps, it is necessary to consider all factors beforehand. The user should consider the tow ropes, the tube’s weight capacity, and the number of tube riders.
The user should get the proper specifications of tow ropes or harnesses before setting off. Different towables will require different ropes depending on their size. For instance, if one uses a rope for towing a two-person tube to tow a four-person towable, the rope will break during the ride which is dangerous.
Other factors to consider include the combined weight of people on the tube, the boat and the weather condition. It is advisable to wait for a sunny day before tubing.
Choose The Right Tube
Towable tubes come in different shapes and sizes. A person can pick one that best suits their needs. When being pulled by a pontoon tube, most people go for a tube with a slicker bottom. However, it is essential not to limit oneself to a few tubes.
For smaller families, the classical doughnut-shaped tubes work pretty well. Tubes with the dual towing feature are suitable for larger families. One can also opt for ‘banana‘ tubes if they intend to carry six or more people. However, remember that the size of the tube depends on the pontoon’s size and horsepower.
Use The Right Rope
To ensure structural integrity before hitting the water, the rider should double-check that the ropes meet the standard. And also ensure not to use water skis, wakeboards, or knee-boarding ropes as an alternative to tubing ropes. Typically, tubing ropes have higher tensile strength as they handle pressure. For one rider, use a rope with about 1500Ibs of tensile strength. For five to six riders, use a rope with a tensile strength of 6000Ibs.
Use The Right Harness
Older model pontoon boats may be missing a vital tubing accessory- the tow bar. Hence, the user must confirm that their boats have tow bars. If not, then they can use the two-point tie-in method. To achieve this method, the user will need a Y-rope harness attachment. Also, the rope should loop twice at the two-point attachment.
Tie The Knot
This step is arguably the most crucial in this outline. Aside from choosing the right rope, it is also crucial for the user to properly tie the knot to prevent accidents.
Below is a guide on how to tie the tube to the pontoon boat.
- Inflate the tube till it is well expanded and wrinkle-free. Also, ensure that the cap is secure enough to restrict air loss.
- Tie an end of the rope to the tube.
- Attach the other end to the pontoon boat’s tow bar or U-bolt.
- If the rope is tied to a low point on the boat, attach a booster ball to keep it afloat.
- Tug the rope and confirm it is well secure before towing.
Advantages Of Pulling A Tube Behind A Pontoon Boat
Speed boats are famous for towing tubes due to their high horsepower. Pontoon boats, on the other hand, are used for boat parties and other recreational activities. However, pontoon tubes can also be used for tubing.
Below are the advantages of pulling a tube behind a pontoon tube.
They Have Sufficient Horsepower
Although pontoon boats are not known for powerful motors, newer models are built with HP higher than 105. Most new models can run 20mph and comfortably pull a tube at these speeds.
Some pontoon tubes can even reach speeds of 50mph and possess staggering horsepower ranging from 150 to 300. A good example is the Berkshire Pontoons or the Harris Crowne DL 250.
They Come With Tow Bars Or Pylons
Most pontoon boats come equipped with a tow bar. This feature allows pontoon boats to easily and safely tow other water vessels. Since water tubes are not heavy, the tow bars can handle their weight. Although some pontoon boats do not come with a pre-installed tow bar, most manufacturers leave the option of installing one.
They Offer Maneuverability
As compared to ski boats or sports boats, pontoon boats can navigate through the water with more ease. Pontoon boats are capable of making quick turns and avoiding collisions. This makes them well suited for tubing as the riders can worry less about obstacles and enjoy the ride.
Drawbacks Of Pulling A Tube Behind A Pontoon Boat
Pontoon boats are a viable option for water tubing. As previously explained, they have the essential qualities to pull a tube along the water. However, pontoon boats are not made for water tubing. Hence, there are a few drawbacks to using pontoon boats.
The drawbacks are as follows;
They Are Not Suitable For High-Speed Rides
Anyone considering pontoon boats must be aware that most pontoon boats are not well suited for fast rides. Many will tap out at 20mph, which may be disappointing for thrill-seekers. Hence, while the maximum speed most pontoon boats get to is suitable for kids, it may not be acceptable for many adults.
They Cannot Tow Multiple Riders
The number of people a pontoon boat has to pull will affect the speed. This is especially true if the boat has low horsepower. For pontoon boats with HP lower than 115, it is sensible only to allow one or two riders per session if the ride is to be enjoyed.
Safety Tips To Remember
Before setting sail, there are a few points to remember to ensure the safety of all involved. They are as follows;
- All riders must be wearing life jackets or personal floatation devices properly.
- Colored life jackets are more appropriate for children to be easy to spot.
- Pontoon tubes should not tow more than one tube to avoid a collision.
- Always have a spotter on the ground to keep an eye out for accidents.
- The driver must be sober and watchful. The driver must also observe the passenger’s hand signals to know when to slow down.
- If children are on board, go at a slow speed.
- Inspect the tow ropes ahead of time for any deficiency.
- Riders must respect the tube’s weight limit.
- Abide by the pontoon boat laws and safety regulations.
Knowing how to pull a tube behind a pontoon boat is not rocket science. The first thing to do is consider a few factors and then prepare the needed equipment. After that, the user must choose the right rope and the right tube for the job. And finally, to ensure a fun and risk-free ride, users must adhere to the safety guidelines in this write-up.