Pontoon boats are a huge hit for most families, but a fun thing to do with any boat is tow sports.
The most popular tow sport activity for the whole family is tubing. Tubes can be large and create a lot of drag, so it begs the question of how much horsepower does your pontoon boat need to pull tubes?
The answer might surprise you, but let’s go over that and more!
HP Needed To Pull Tubes
When it comes to pulling tubes with your pontoon, you don’t need much horsepower. At the very least, you want 50HP for pulling tubes with your pontoon that’s 20ft or less.
- 50HP = Just enough for one adult or two small kids.
- 90HP = Good, just right for 1 to 3 people.
- 115HP = Great, especially for 3 to 5 people on a tube!
- 150HP = Overkill, you could start a towboat service.
You don’t need much horsepower to pull tubes with a pontoon boat, but the more you have, the more tow sports you can do.
The pontoon boat only needs to go 15MPH for tubing, which a 50HP pontoon boat should reach. For other pull sports you need to be above 20MPH, 26MPH to be exact, to get the skier or wakeboarder up on plane.
Too Much HP
You can have too much power for pulling tubes.
The problem is that people always seek more and if the boat can give it to them, you bet they will try.
Pulling tubes or skiers with a 300HP pontoon is not automatically bad, but extra care needs to be taken to ensure everyone’s safety.
15MPH is a good speed for tubing because if you fall off it doesn’t hurt as bad. But falling off at 30MPH does hurt, trust me on how I know.
15MPH Doesn’t Feel Fast?!
Doing 15MPH in your car doesn’t feel fast, but that changes when you get on the water.
When you’re in a tube, you’re sitting or laying down much closer to the water, and things came at you fast!
So, when you start out, go slow, especially with the kids, as you may find it’s much faster than they realize. If you do start out slower, it leaves room to go faster as they warm up to the water sports!
Pontoon Boat For Professional Skiing?
If you’re a competitive water skier or wakeboarder, then you should not be using a pontoon boat.
A pontoon boat is not a replacement for a ski boat; you’re missing out on some needed features you only get with ski boats.
A pontoon boat is for fun, and for me, I stick to only pulling tubes on a pontoon boat as it’s just right.
What Size Towable Tube Should You Get
There are many options when it comes to towable tubes for boats.
You got the basic ones that sit one person, which is great and doesn’t take up a lot of space.
Then you have the Big Mable* that seats more people and a lot more comfortable and a more secure ride.
Things can get crazy, you can buy very big towable tubes, but know the bigger the tube the more HP you should consider.
My favorite is the Big Mable, you can get it in many sizes from 2 to 4 people. It’s comfortable and feels like you’re riding a large sofa on the water. The Big Mable is a great tube to start out on and go from there once you know what you like about tubing behind boats.
How Many People Can You Pull On A Tube
Every state is different, but as a general and safe rule…
The total people on the boat and the total people on the tube should not exceed the capacity of the boat.
This means if your boat can only hold 8 people, you CANNOT have 7 people on the boat and 3 people on a tube.
If someone gets hurt, they need to be able to get on the boat and to safety. Not only that, but you need flotation devices for everyone on the boat to stay legal. You bet the water police will give you a ticket if you’re reckless about the person count.
Can You Tube Behind A Pontoon Boat At Night?
You CANNOT pull a tube behind any boat at night, this means from sunset to sunrise no tubing is allowed.
Even if your state or country has no laws saying you can’t, it’s stupid to do it.
You have no lights for the tube, you can’t see where you’re going, and you run the risk of someone hitting the tube.
Adding stickers, reflectors or lights don’t make it legal. You simply can’t tube behind a boat at night!