How to Tow a Jet Ski or PWC Behind a Boat


Nobody wants their Personal Watercraft (PWC) or Jet Ski to die out on the water but it happens. If you are ever in this case, you may need to know how to tow it behind a boat to get it back to the shore.

You will need to wrap a rope through the hole at the front of your PWC, attach a shutoff valve to the water intake hose, and travel at no more than 5 MPH to the shore.

Best Jet Ski Shutoff Valves

If your jet ski breaks down, the only way you can protect your engine from flooding is by clamping the water supply pipe. Sea-Doo sells some clamps, and there are some options on Amazon as well. If you do not have a valve you will have a very long and slow ride back to the shore since you cannot exceed 5 miles per hour without one.

Here is a guide of some of the best shutoff valves on the market:

  • WaveEater Towing water supply valve: This is a valve that is for all 2 stroke jet skis. It works on all brands of jet skis and will install easily and do its job. See here on Amazon
  • WaveEater Towing water supply valve for all Yamaha 4 stroke Waverunners: This is a valve for those who have Yamaha Waverunners and a 4 stroke. It works well and is good to invest in just in case you have to tow your jet ski. See here on Amazon
  • Lisle 22850 Hose pincher: This is the cheapest option out there. It will pinch off your water supply valve, and you can use them for other things too. See here on Amazon

Hopefully, you will never need to use them, but just in case you should have these on board at all times. It could save you a TON of money if you need to use it and more importantly it will save your jet ski.

If you do tow your jet ski without a shutoff valve, there is the possibility that the water will flow through the cooling system and if the pressure continues to grow, it will fill the engine cylinder with water.

Just for safety reasons, you should mark the correct hose to clamp with colored duct tape so you can find it quickly and easily in an emergency.

Materials You Will Need to Tow Your Jet Ski or PWC

  • Hose clamp
  • At least 15 foot tow rope
  • Grate tools
  • Neon Flag

You will need a rope that floats so that it does not get sucked into the intake grate. You will need a short rope if you are going slow, and a longer rope if you are going faster than 10 miles per hour. Again, it is a smart idea to go as slow as possible so you do not damage the engine of your jet ski.

Keep in mind that you never want your PWC to be too far behind the boat or else it will lose control and flip over. The closer it is to the boat the more control of staying upright it will have.

Problems to Look Out for When Towing

The biggest problem that comes with towing a jet ski behind a boat is that the jet ski engine’s exhaust system ties in with the cooling system. This means that water pressure can force water back through the exhaust system which will flood the engine and possibly the compartment it sits in.

One more thing to take into consideration is that if your engine was running before it stopped, the exhaust system will already be partially flooded with water which means it will not take much effort for the back pressure to build up.

You will need to be ready to wave your bright neon flag if you come in contact with another vessel so that they can be aware you are towing a jet ski behind you. Towing can be extremely dangerous and if you need to do it, you need to make it very obvious to those around you that you are towing.

People sometimes clamp off the wrong hose which can cause damage to your jet ski. Make sure to drop by a local dealer so they can show you which hose to clamp off. It is always better to be extra safe than sorry.

One more mistake people make is by not taking their jet ski in when it does accidentally fill with water. If your engine does fill up even the slightest bit you need to take it to get services as quick as possible. The longer you wait, the more damage there will be.

If your engine has not been cleared of water within a day or two of it being filled with water, the life of your PWC could be severely shortened or even finished completely.

The shorter your towing rope is the more stable your watercraft will be when traveling. It is not a good idea to have your PWC connected to a long tow rope because it will lose control and flip over. With a shorter rope, the wake from the towing rope will not bounce the jetski around too much. The rope needs to be at least 15 feet long to allow a safety zone between the PWC and the boat.

If your rope is not strong enough, it could snap and there is a real danger of it causing injury. If it does snap it will whip forward like a stone from a slingshot and could injure someone or damage your jet ski. Make sure your rope is strong enough.

NEVER attempt to start an engine that has been filled with water. If you do this you could cause bending of the connecting rods or ruining the engine altogether.

Before you head to the lake, make sure to refresh your memory by reading your owner’s manual to know the proper direction to turn your jet ski if it flips. This is vital to know at all times because if you turn the jet ski the wrong way you could completely flood your engine.

Magic Marine Tow

There is an amazing man out there who created a towing device just for jet skis. It is super simple to use and it is made with super high-quality steel and can hold up to almost 1,000 pounds.

It is the perfect device for towing, and you can buy it online at magicmarinetow.com. You can also buy parts if you need more. This is an excellent option for keeping your jet ski in perfect shape while towing.

It also has a large bar that sticks up above the jet ski while it is being towed so that people can visually see there is something being towed. You do not need a rope or anything because it connects to a metal frame attached to the back of your boat.

Here is a video of the device:

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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