Water tubing is uniquely thrilling and makes your day out on the water an unforgettable experience. And for kids, few water sports excite them more than being flipped around the water on a tube, at break-neck speed.
Now, if you own a pontoon boat and love to tube, you may want to know how to pull a tube behind a pontoon boat for an afternoon of action-packed adventure your loved ones won’t soon forget!
This guide provides step-by-step instructions on pulling a tube with a pontoon, including pontoon tubing safety basics to help keep your family safe and cheerful all summer long.
Let’s dive in.
How much horsepower does a pontoon need to pull a tube?
Although you can tow a tube with virtually any size pontoon, to be safe and for an out-of-the-world experience, a 90hp engine (and above) is most recommended.
Don’t get me wrong- while most little engines will do the job; a more capable engine is the way to go if you fancy most fun for your family.
Accessory needed to pull a tube behind a pontoon boat
Before we go into deep dives on tube pulling with a pontoon, let’s go over the equipment basics…
Now, you’ll require the following basic items to properly and safely pull the tube with your buoyant riders onboard.
1. Tow rope
As with all power boats, you’ll need a good rope to pull your tube.
Towropes undergo plenty of stress – on the various points of connection- when towing inflatables, so look for one build strong enough to come through unscathed.
I should add that ropes aren’t expensive.
2. Tow bar or pylon to pull the tube?
Pylons have been a popular choice for many watersports enthusiasts, and it holds up to towing excellently – a top-quality ski pylon is very stout and significantly heavy. Another positive is that a ski pylon is super easy to use.
The tow bar also works fabulously for this purpose- it allows the rope to travel smoothly from side to side, resulting in reduced stress on the boat and more thrill for those in tow.
If your pontoon does not have a pylon or its original tow bar was ruined, I recommend you go for a proven aftermarket tow bar such as the TurboSwing Ski Tow Bar.
Tip: A wakeboard tower can never be an option here as the tube can easily become airborne due to its design.
3. An option: Tow Harness
Many manufacturers urge tubing junkies to use a high-quality tow harness for pontoons that lack a pylon or tow bar. The accessory creates a beefy tow attachment point – at the center of the pontoon- behind the outboard/stern drive and is perfect for the job.
To give you a better idea, take a look at the Airhead Watersports Self-Centering Tow Harness, best rated for towing tubes behind a Pontoon boat.
How to pull a tube behind a pontoon boat – step by step
Now that you have known what is needed, let’s turn to the most important section of our guide- how to pull a tube behind a pontoon boat (the specific procedure).
I must say that hooking up the tube to your pontoon is relatively simple- there’s no learning curve involved, provided you have all the essentials.
You simply attach the towrope to the cleats, grommets, or eyes on your boat or onto the ski tow bar (for those who have one) or a ski pylon.
Follow these procedures depending on your preference:
How to set up tubing on a boat – using various options
Option 1: Using a rear tow bar
The rear tow bar would be fine. Plus, it ensures a better pull for the tube riders while giving you improved control over your tube. Hook up pretty seamlessly- All you have to do is attach the tow rope to the tow bar, and voila!
If you have installed the TurboSwing tow bar, you’ll attach the tow rope to the pulley (that wraps around motor cowlings in pontoon boats).
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to get it right.
Option 2: Using a ski pylon
Another straightforward method- your tow rope goes to the round eye (at the top). In general, with the pylon, you can get your tube “on plane” faster, not to mention that the rope produces noticeably less splash.
Option 3: Using a tow harness for pontoon
As we saw earlier, the best way is to use a harness with an easy attachment mechanism, such as the Airhead Watersports Heavy-Duty Tow Harness.
You just clip it onto the pontoon with the high tensile strength hooks, then attach your tube rope to the sturdy Kwik-Connect attachment mechanism to secure it.
Tubing behind pontoon- Essential Safety tips
Have the necessary safety Gear
The minimum requirement for everyone onboard is a Personal flotation device (PFD).
I cannot emphasize this enough: A PFD can be priceless in the event of an accident so insist on everyone wearing a properly-fitting life jacket at all time.
Don’t forget to apply (and to keep re-applying) enough waterproof sunscreen- there will be more sun than your skin can cope with as you chase the fun.
Be careful about tow ropes
Ropes are built for pulling different-sized tubes. For that reason, using the wrong tow rope can easily damage it and endanger the riders.
For example, towing a four-person tube using a tow rope designed for a two-rider tube can be catastrophic as the rope could break. Additionally, inspect your rope for frays or sun damage before each use.
Keep an eye on your riders
As a rule of thumb, have another person with you in the pontoon and keep a close eye on the kids or whoever is on board.
Exercise caution and good decision-making all through
Other things that may help you prevent disaster are avoiding over-speeding, especially if you’re towing kiddos or riders whose ability you’re unsure of.
Whether it’s your kids or you’re still a kid (at heart), you’ll find an extremely enchanting summer water tubing adventure while being towed behind a pontoon boat.
You now know how to pull a tube behind a pontoon boat, so go ahead and haul out your tube.
Undoubtedly, everyone will have wonderful vacation memories from this simple but immensely exciting water activity.
References and Citations:
1. Pontoon Deck Boat Magazine (PDB): Tube Safety- https://www.pdbmagazine.com/2013/10/tube-safety
2. International Labor Office (ILO) Geneva: ILO code of practice, Safety and health in ports (Revised 2016)