Water skiing

Find out about water skiing regulations, safety and permitted locations.

Water skiing involves towing people over water using a vessel at a speed of more than 8 knots on:

  • Bare feet
  • Boards
  • Inflatable toys
  • Parasailing
  • Skis.

Water skiing is a high risk activity and as the skipper of a vessel towing a water skier, itís your responsibility to ensure the safety of your crew and the skier at all times.

There must always be a skipper and observer onboard when towing a skier.

Always refer to information signs located at ski areas before skiing to find out permitted skiing times and where the take-off and landing areas are located.

  Rules and regulations

All the rules and regulations that apply to power boats also apply to boats that are towing skiers.

Collision rules still apply in ski areas, which means a ski boat has no priority over a boat that is passing through the area

Distance behind a skier

You must not drive any closer than 50 metres directly behind a skier or any other boat.

Distance from shore

Stay at least 50 metres (or as gazetted) from the shore except when landing or taking off in a gazetted take-off and landing area.

Right of way when landing a water skier

The skipper of a boat about to take-off must give way to a ski boat coming in to land a water skier.

Approaching shore where a skier has landed

A skipper landing a skier must not approach within 25 metres of the shore where the skier has landed.

Towing skiers near landing or take-off areas

You must not drive a power boat towing water skiers within 30 metres of the shore or any landing or take-off area, except for when you are landing or taking off water skiers.

Towing trick skiers

You must not drive a speed boat towing a skier engaged in trick skiing within 100 metres of any landing or take-off areas.

Ski ropes

You must not permit a ski rope to trail within 30 metres of the shore of any area set aside for water skiing, unless the rope handles are held by a skier.

Ski line to be retrieved

You must ensure lost and discarded ski lines are retrieved as soon as possible.

After landing a water skier, the skipper must continue to at least 60 metres from the point of dropping the skier, stop and have the ski line retrieved.

If coming to shore, the skipper must reduce boat speed to less than 8 knots and not interfere with, or obstruct any other boats towing a water skier.

Slalom skiing and ski-jumping

You cannot use any navigable waters for slalom course or ski-jump unless you have obtained written approval from the Department of Transport.

Skipper needs to be seated

The skipper must not sit on the gunwale or on the back of the driving seat while driving a speed boat.

Skipper responsibilities

To be the skipper of a boat towing a water skier you must:

The skipper is responsible for the safety of others and must:

  • Make sure the boat is safe and capable of towing skiers.
  • Carry all the right safety equipment for the skiers and passengers.
  • Always face forward when towing a skier and maintain a proper lookout.
  • Operate the boat as safely as possible and check the area is safe for skiing by noting the depth of water, width to make turns safely and any hazards.
  • Be aware of the water skiing hand signals and plan where you will go once the skier is behind the boat.
  • Discuss how you intend to pick up a fallen skier and give instruction on how to re-board properly.
  • Stop the vessel motor while a skier is attempting to re-board.

Observer responsibilities

The observer is responsible for watching and communicating with the skiers being towed and alerting the skipper of any safety issues.

To be an observer you must:

  • Be at least 14 years of age.
  • Alert the skipper about other vessels approaching from behind.
  • Be aware of the standard hand signals.

Skier responsibilities

Water skiers can be any age.

We recommend that all skiers wear an approved lifejacket (level 50s or higher) while skiing.

Skiers must be aware of the standard hand signals.

A fallen skier getting into a boat should leave their skis in the water and swim towards the boat.

Skiers should enter a boat over the stern whenever possible and never use the engine or propeller as a step.

  Signalling

Waiting to take off with a skier Ė driverís signal

When waiting for a safe opportunity to take off with a skier, the skipper should signal to vessels dropping off a skier that you do not intend to move until it is clear. This is indicated by holding both arms in the air showing that they are not on the boat controls.

Skier down-observerís signal

The observer only should hold one arm straight up in the air to indicate to other vessels that the skier has fallen off and is in the water.

Vessels seeing this signal should keep a good lookout for the skier in the water.

Skier down and is OK signal Ė skierís signal

A fallen skier that has sustained no injuries should indicate that they are OK by raising both arms into the air. If the observer does not see this signal, they should inform the skipper to return to the skier as quickly and as safely as possible.

Dropping off skier- driverís signal

When returning to the shore, the driver should indicate this by the raising and lowering of a hand above the head.

  Water ski areas and permitted times

You can only ski in a gazetted ski area and only between times permitted for that area.

You can find information on ski areas boundaries on the information signs located on the foreshore or boat ramps of ski areas.

Ski area boundaries may also be marked in the water by buoys.

The signs also provide information on the direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise) you must follow.

Restricted areas of navigable waters

The document below contains the details of all restricted areas in navigational waters across Western Australia. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Areas where maximum speed limits are imposed.
  • Areas where swimming is prohibited.
  • Areas for water skiing.
  • Areas closed to motorised vessels.

The document is organised by Local Government Areas.

Inland water ski dams and lakes status - 28 March 2023

Location Current status regarding water skiing
Glen Mervyn Dam Closed
Lake Poorrarecup Open 
Logue Brook Dam Open
Waroona Dam Open (level 2) 
Lake Stockton Open (boat ramp closed)

Subject to change. Please refer to Notices to Mariners for updates.

Ski areas guides

Our guides provide information on water skiing rules, safety and speed limits for permitted water ski areas in WA.  

Before you go

Before you leave home to go water skiing:

Download the Deckee app for safety, weather and location-based information to help you stay safe on the water.

  Reporting marine incidents

Many minor and more serious accidents occur that involve water skiers and people being towed behind boats on a variety of devices.

Marine incidents must be reported so that problem safety areas can be identified.

It is the owners or skipper's responsibility to report these accidents within 7 days.

For more information refer to Warnings, emergencies and incidents.

Page last updated: Wed May 17 2023 3:36:18 PM