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Towing a PWC or Small Boat

If you want to safely tow a PWC or small boat behind your cruiser, houseboat or other larger boat, this is the article for you.

I own both a 32' cruiser and a 15' jet boat. We use the jet boat for general watersports like tubing and wakeboarding as well as running around on the lake or visiting friends.


We typically go out to a cove for a weekend getaway which is about 9 miles from the dock (a 25 minute ride up on plane). Of course I could drive the cruiser and my wife could drive the jet boat but I run into 2 issues:

  1. I'm using up gas in both boats.

  2. My wife would rather ride in comfort on the cruiser with a margarita in her hand.

The solution is to tow the jet boat behind the cruiser. Now you're probably thinking that all you need is a ski line tied between the boats and you're all set. Not so fast...

  • A rope (especially one that doesn't float) can find its way into props or jet drives, neither of which are much fun.

  • Most cruisers don't come with tie-down hooks so you end up tying up to whatever is available like a cleat or swim ladder.

  • If you're not careful when slowing down, the boats will kiss in a BAD way.

  • If you don't clamp off the cooling water hose on your jet drive, the engine will fill up with water - also bad.

Well here are some steps that you can take to insure successful and safe towing!

Install a pair of tow hooks

Pickup a pair of tow hooks (similar in size to the one on the front your PWC or small boat) and mount them to the back of your large boat. These need to be through bolted with large washers or backing plates. Make sure to silicone the hole and tow hook before installing to prevent water intrusion.

Install a Ball Valve on the cooling water hose (if towing a PWC)

A simple approach to this is to clamp the water supply line when towing the PWC but I don't trust clamps and I would think it would fatigue the hose with repeated clamping. But it does work!

For those that want a safer solution, read on!

The first step is to identify the cooling water hose coming from the jet pump. A diagram for your PWC engine helps with this. Disconnect one end of the hose and measure the inside diameter of the hose.

Now go to your local marine store and pickup the following:

  1. A ball valve with an inlet/outlet size that comes close to the inside diameter of  your hose.

  2. Two hose barbs that thread into the ball valve and whose barb end is the correct size for the inside diameter of your hose.

  3. Two stainless hose clamps for your hose.

  4. Thread sealing tape

Complete the following steps:

  1. Attach the hose barbs to the ball valve using the thread sealing tape.

  2. Optionally spray paint the ball valve handle with some obnoxious color (easier to find)

  3. Cut the cooling water hose coming from the jet pump at a location that can be easily accessed with he engine access cover open.

  4. Install the ball valve into the cut line using the hose clamps.

What you end up with should look like the picture below. I mounted the ball valve near the top of the engine compartment to make it easier to get to. This may require additional hose (mine did).

The picture above show the ball valve open which is required to run the PWC. Below is a picture of the ball valve closed which is required to tow the PWC. I make it a habit to wrap the PWC key around the ball valve whenever its closed. This keeps me from starting the PWC with no cooling water!

Purchase a Towdster Boat Towing System (

First of all, I don't sell the Towdster product nor am I invested in the Towdster company - I just think its a great product.

  • Each section floats so you never have to worry about getting it into the jet pump or props.

  • The whole thing breaks down into 8' sections for easy storage

  • Each section contains a bungee chord built in which absorbs the shock of the boats during take-off, or moving at different speeds or direction.

The Towdster can be purchased from and consists of a tri section (shown below) and optionally additional singles depending on your towing requirements. If you're towing below wake speeds, you'll just need the tri.

If you want to tow at plane, you'll need enough extra single sections to put the towed boat well behind the wake. If you try to tow with the towdster shorter than the wake, the boat will constantly try to dive in towards the larger boat. If the length if just to the top of the wake, the boat will want to fall off to the right or left.

Now The Fun Part

  1. If towing a PWC, turn off the ball valve and wrap the key around it.

  2. If towing an outboard, tilt the engine up to prevent it from ruddering the boat.

  3. Attach the furthest out section of the Towdster to the boat (which may be a single or the end of the tri).

  4. Attach and pay out any additional Towdster sections.

  5. When you get to the tri, attach a section to each of the installed tow hooks.

Happy Towing!

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