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The Other Kind of Skiing

Water skiers have always impressed me. Early in the morning when the air is still and The Lake is flat, skilled skiers look as graceful as any choreographed dance; the other skiers like myself are fun to watch too. Water skiing is a team sport, communication between the boat crew and the skier is important. There is a sign language between the skier, observer, and the driver that keep everyone aware. If you are the skier and you want to go faster place your hand with its thumb up in front of your chest and hang on. When you’ve had enough of that point your thumb down and if you are skiing as a team you should slow down. A cutting motion with your hand across the throat signals the boat crew to cut the motor and stop the boat. The boat’s driver or the observer may also use this signal. To have the driver turn the boat, raise your arm overhead with your index finger pointed upward and move your index finger in a circle. Immediately afterward, point in the desired direction. Pat the top of your head to say, "take me home let’s go back to the dock". When your index finger and thumb form an "O" and the rest of your fingers point upward, you just told the boat crew everything is just fine. Your speed and course are OK. You would use the same signal to acknowledge a signal from the boat. After a fall, raise your clasped hands to assure your crew you’re OK. The observer a required team member in both California and Nevada should hold up a red flag warning other boats there is a skier in the water. The observer should always be in view of the skier and the skier should be in the mirror’s view of the driver.

When you are the driver towing a skier, make sure you have the right equipment. The first essential is a wide–angle rear-view mirror. You will also need a good towline and some place to tie it. You can use the cleats or lifting rings at the stern of your boat. Better still, if you plan to make a practice of pulling a skier, equip your boat with a towing pylon. A towing pylon is a device mounted near the boat’s center of gravity used for centering the towline. This reduces the effect of pulls to one side or the other on your boat or your skier. Use a towline made of a synthetic fiber that floats. A floating line attached to a pylon is less likely to foul your prop. The most common towline is polypropylene. Polypropylene is a light and wiry plastic line that needs frequent inspections. Polypropylene line deteriorates rapidly when exposed to the sunlight; it may be good for only one season. It’s loose and course weave makes it easy to splice, but it is susceptible to chafing (constant rubbing weakening the line). Because of polypropylene’s excessive stretching and rapid deterioration it is never used as a dock, anchor, or a boat towing line.

Skiers should always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) also known as a life jacket. The most common PFD used for water skiing is the Type III; it looks like a vest with adjustable straps on the side. Some skiers may also consider a wet suit for the chilly morning air and the water is certainly cold. Make provisions for retrieving your skier before you leave the dock. Your boat should be equipped with a dive or swim platform or a boarding ladder. When you stop to pick up a skier, stop your engine. Some propellers turn over slowly even when the engine is not in gear and a running engine may accidentally shift into gear.

Water skiing can be as graceful as any choreographed dance so pardon me if I sit this one out


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