Saturday, September 8, 2007

Children And Boats: Teach Them How To Water-Ski

I'm sure that we've all seen people trying to learn how to
water-ski. They splash and burn repeatedly while they and their
friends in the boat get more and more frustrated. After someone
sees this, they think," no way" when one of their kids says that
he wants to learn how to ski, but getting your kids into skiing
is a great way to get them involved with the family boat. The
process that I'm about to talk about should alleviate the
frustration and provide a much easier process for teaching
children to water-ski. My brother and I learned using these
techniques, and I taught my 10 year old son using these
techniques, so I know they work

The first thing to look at is the boat. You have to put yourself
in the child's place. A 200 hp boat can be very intimidating to
the child. My dad taught me behind a 14' boat powered by a 50 hp
outboard motor, but to me it looked like the Titanic. A 12' boat
with a 35 hp engine is probably big enough. I've even seen
pictures of people skiing behind a jet-ski.

The actual procedure for teaching a child can be broken down
into two parts with several steps in each part

Part I Training

1.) The first step of my course eliminates the boat altogether
and therefore the intimidation factor. The child should be in
shallow water, close to shore. Ski ropes are usually around 200
ft. long, so at least two adults (more is even better) should
hold one end on the shore while the rest of the rope is
stretched out into the water to the child.

2.) For the child, one of the hardest parts of skiing is
learning to control the skis while sitting in the water. For
this step, an adult should get in the water to help the child
get the skis on and help hold the skis up until the launch takes
place.

The adult helping the child should probably wear a life jacket
too, even if he is a good swimmer. He will be busy helping the
child, so he shouldn't have to worry about keeping his head
above the water.

3.) Once the child has his skis ready, then the adults on the
shore should pull the rope taunt and get ready to run. At this
point, it is important to impress upon the child that he is in
control. The pullers don't go until the child screams for them
to run.

4.) Once he is stable, the child should yell at the adults
onshore to run! The adult in the water should tell the child to
pull the tails of his skis up towards his rear end. Then, he
should be told that after he pulls up the tails of his skis, he
should stand up. At this point, it should be easy to stand up
because of the pull on the rope. This pull will tend to make the
child lean forward, which should make it easy to stand.

5.) The child should be pulled ashore several times. As the old
saying goes, "practice makes perfect" . I remember being pulled
into shore as being a lot of fun!

6.) On the last few pulls, the child should be instructed in
making simple turns away from the centerline of the pull. The
child should be told that if he puts more of his weight on the
left ski, he'll turn to the right. Conversely. if he puts more
of his weight on the right ski, he will turn toward the left.
These turning skills will be necessary when being pulled behind
the boat.

Part II The Moment of Truth

Before the first tow with the boat, the child and the boat
driver should talk about what is going to happen. At this time,
the child will be very nervous, so it is important that he feels
like he is in complete control of the situation. The main source
of his nervousness will be the fear that he doesn't have control
over the boat.

1.) The first tow behind the boat should start with the child
once again in shallow water with an adult helping him to get
set. This first trip behind the boat should be planned out
extensively by the child and the driver. For the first time, the
boat should make a small circle and slow down to a stop where it
started. This will allow the child to slowly sink back into the
water while still holding onto the rope. I've seen a lot of
people crash after letting go of the rope.

2.) The child and the driver should have a pre-arranged signal
in case the child wants to keep going. This signal could be as
simple as pointing one thumb up while holding on to the rope.

A few other tips for the first tow:

The child should be instucted to stay behind the boat, so he
stays inside the wake where the waves won't be so bad. The boat
doesn't really cut down the waves very much, but if you tell the
child that it does, it will help him relax.

b) The driver and the observer should be the only ones in the
boat so it makes the smallest waves possible.

c) Ski in the morning when the water is at its smoothest.

The above techniques could be used with a small adult also, but
you may need more bodies for pulling on the rope. If you use
these techniques with children, you and your children will have
far less frustration and far fewer tears on the part of the
kids. The best part is; once you teach them to ski they will be
anxious to go on family boat trips. They might even wash the
boat!

About the author:
Craig Stanford has been driving powerboats since he was six. His
son owns an 18ft Four Winns boat, so now he gets to be a
passenger. He owns the "Boating Guide" website at
http://online-boat-info.com/boat

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