How To Attach Tow Rope To Boat: (Towables,Tubing, Skiing)

Attaching a tow rope to your boat is essential if you plan to do any type of water sport activity, and knowing how to fasten it correctly is vital.

Not only do you need to know how to tie it in terms of what knot to use, but there are also various types of ropes that you should be using depending on the activity you are doing.

Let’s discuss how and where to tie a tow rope on your boat and other factors you need to consider when doing so.

How To Attach A Tow Rope To A Boat

Before we dive into precisely how to attach a tow rope to a boat, some considerations need to be addressed. Typically, when you want to attach a tow rope to a boat, you (or someone else) will want to be participating in some activity such as water skiing or tubing.

Such outdoor activities come with a number of risks, and if they are neglected, an injury could occur.

Therefore, it is crucial to understand what rope to use (because there are various types and you can’t just use any) and how to tie the appropriate knot. All these factors will need to be examined before tying a tow rope to a boat.

We will now go over precisely how to attach a tow rope to a boat but take into consideration that you should continue reading the article to understand what factors need to be taken into account beforehand.

The information provided in this article is crucial in not only allowing you to tie your rope to a boat sufficiently, but if skipped over, you may find yourself or someone else getting injured.

Step 1: Gather Your Rope

The first thing you will need to do is find the rope you wish to attach to the boat. Depending on what water sports activity you intend on doing, the rope will be different. We will discuss the various types of rope further on in this article.

However, if you plan on tubing, your tow rope should be between 50 and 65 feet in length. This is for specific reasons. Ski ropes will come in a variety of lengths, so make sure you have the appropriate one for your activity.

Typically you will find your rope onboard your boat. Remember that although water sports tow ropes are designed, manufactured, and conditioned to withstand torture and the elements, they should not be left outside uncovered.

Exposure to the elements 24 hours a day will cause the rope to deteriorate and will reduce its tensile strength. As you will see later, a tow rope’s tensile strength is significant regarding the weight and force it can pull and withstand.

Step 2: Look For An Eyelet Or Tie-Down Anchor

Once you have your rope (the correct one), you will need to look for an eyelet or tie-down anchor on your boat. Most boats usually have some sort of ski eyelet situated on the boat towards the rear, and most of the time, they will be raised.

In most cases, the ski eyelet won’t be a suitable place to attach the tow rope if you intend to go tubing. However, if you intend to go water skiing, this will be the best place to tie your tow rope to.

Tie-down anchors may not be placed on your boat, depending on what type of boat it is. However, you may find them situated in other areas on the boat and not towards the back.

In no situation whatsoever should you ever tie a rope to a tie-down anchor or any other eyelet that is not situated at the rear of your boat. Furthermore, it would be beneficial if you always opt to tie a tow rope in line with the center of your boat. This will help you have more control with regard to maneuvering and turning.

It will help if you remember that when you begin to pull whatever it is ( a tube or skier), the rope will become taught, and there will be a lot of force exerted on it, in some cases up to 1000lbs.

Due to this, the safety concern can become a real threat. For example, if you tie a tow rope to the left side of your boat and it is placed around the middle of the boat, turning to the left side will cause the rope to go slack, not to mention it will cause an unnecessary amount of pressure if you start turning to the right.

If you don’t have an eyelet that is placed low on your boat or a tie-down anchor, it would be wise to purchase one and place it in the correct position yourself.

Due to the fact that most boats are made of plywood covered with fiberglass or resin, it will be easy enough to drill or to screw in a tie-down anchor. All you will need to do is purchase one and do a little D.I.Y. work.

If your boat does not have any tie-down anchors or eyelets and you do not wish to put any on yourself, you could, in some cases, tie the tow rope to the boat railing, although this is not recommended. In these circumstances, always make sure that safety comes first and thoroughly check everything.

Step 3: Tieing The Rope To Your Boat

Now that you have your rope and you know where you will tie it, you will need to fasten the rope to the boat. Many individuals who do not have experience in water sports or toe ropes will think that they are able to tie a standard knot. In no situation should you do this (we will explain this in detail later on).

You will want to tie the rope to the boat using a slip knot. Most ski ropes and tube tow ropes are designed and manufactured this way. Thus no effort is required. However, we have provided a step-by-step tutorial on how to tie a slip knot if your rope does not come with one.

Once you have your tow rope that has a slip knot or you have created on yourself, you will pull it through the boat’s eyelet, tie-down anchor, or railing. You will then take the end of the rope that does not have the slip knot and pull it through the hoop, creating a closed loop.

You will always want to use a slip knot to tie a tow rope to a boat because it becomes tighter when more force is exerted on it while being easy to undo in any situation.

The last thing to remember is that you will only need to feed the rope so that it is pointed towards the back of the boat and not in any other direction. Then you will need to attach it to whatever you wish to tow.

Type Of Rope Used For Boating

You may think that you can just go out to your local hardware store and purchase any polypropylene rope because you assume that it should be fine for whatever water activity you are going to do.

Although ski and tubing ropes are made from similar materials, their construction and tensile strength (the breaking force of the rope)I actually quite different.

W.S.I.A (Water Sports Industry Association) has done extensive testing on the appropriate ropes that should be utilized for water sports, and their guidelines should be carefully considered.

Tubing and ski ropes are made from either polyethylene (Poly E), polypropylene, or some combination of these two.

Their construction is such that they will stretch approximately 2 to 3% when a normal riding load is exerted on them. Moreover, their tensile strength (for tubing) will be dependent on how many riders there are.

Ski ropes will come in various colors, and this signifies how long the rope is. You will need to get the appropriate rope length depending on the type of water skiing you wish to do.

Waterski Rope Length Chart

Rope ColorLength
Neutral75 Feet (23 Meters)
Red60 Feet (18.25 Meters)
Orange53 Feet (16 Meters)
Yellow47 Feet (14.25 Meters)
Green43 Feet (13 Meters)
Blue40 Feet (12 Meters)
Violet37 Feet (11.25 Meters)
Neutral35.5 Feet (10.75 Meters)
Red34 Feet (10.25 Meters)

As with ski ropes, tube ropes will also have a little bit of stretch when some force is exerted on them. However, ski ropes are designed for one individual, and their tensile strength is appropriate for that.

Tube ropes come in a number of thicknesses and tensile strengths depending on how many people will be pulled on the tube.

It is important to note that you should always use the appropriate tube rope when attaching it to your boat. Unlike ski ropes, tube ropes will typically be between 50 and 65 feet in length.

This is due to the fact that this length has been established so that the riders are far enough away from the boat’s wake, hence, enjoying a more pleasurable ride. It is not longer than this because to do so would cause the driver of the boat to have less control over the tube when maneuvering and turning through corners.

Tube Rope Tensile Strength And Rider Chart

Number Of Tube RidersCombined Weight Of Tube RidersTube Rope Tensile Strength
1170 Lbs1500 Lbs
1 To 2340 Lbs2300 Lbs
3 To 4680 Lbs4100 Lbs
5 To 61020 Lbs6000 Lbs

As you can see, a normal polyethylene rope that you pick up from your hardware store will typically not be appropriate for water sports activities. Thus, before trying to attach a rope to your boat, you should make sure that you have appropriately chosen the correct rope for your water sports activity.

Understanding How To Tie A Rope To A Boat

Another thing to understand is that ski and tube ropes will typically be designed and manufactured to incorporate a slip knot. A slip knot is ideal for towing because the knot’s “tightness” increases as more force is exerted on it, thus making it stronger.

You should never attempt to tie a regular knot with your ski or tube rope. Doing could damage the rope due to the amount of force it sustains and untieing it could be somewhat tricky.

If, for some reason, your ski or tube ropes do not come with a loop/wrap (a form of a slip knot), you will want to learn to tie this knot yourself.

How To Tie A Slip Knot

Here we will give a breakdown of how to tie a slip knot using your ski or tube rope. Renumber that you should never use a normal knot when tieing a tow rope to your boat because you think it is easier. In fact, learning to tie a slip knot will only take you a minute if that.

Step 1: Start With The End Of The Rope

Taking the end of your rope, you will wrap it around your two fingers, with the end situated underneath the middle.

Step 2: Bring The End Over The Middle

With the rope wrapped around your two fingers, take the end of the rope and bring it over the middle section, then back down again.

Step 3: Grab The Middle Portion

With your two fingers that are holding the loop of the rope, you will push them through the loop and grab the middle section of the rope. Keep in mind that your other hand still has the end held fast. You will then pull the middle section through the loop.

Step 4: Tighten The Loop

All that is left to do is to pull the loop tight while holding the end and the middle section with your one hand.


We discovered that tieing a tow rope to your boat is, in fact, a pretty straightforward process, although there are factors to consider. There are three main factors to consider if we have to break down the article.

The first is always to use the appropriate rope. The next is to tie it to a secure section of the boat which should be an eyelet or a tie-down anchor. The last is to tie it using a slip not, which is perfect for the applicable situation and will be easy to remove.

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My name is Brad Visser the chief editor and owner of We have an amazing team of writers that contribute to our website. This team is passionate about boating and have years of experience not only in boats, but in writing helpful, informative articles to answer questions you may have.

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