Southern Boating

Water Sports Accessories

Guarantee your family’s fun with the right water toys and accessories.

My friend with perfectly coiffed hair expected a leisurely water tube ride and thought her golden locks would stay dry. The three-person tube was huge, and she figured as long as the speeds were low, she was safe. The trouble was it was her brother’s boat, her brother was driving and getting dunked is just how the tube thing goes. It’s slow at first, then faster and bumpier, widening arcs, the towline sweeping from side to side, and once outside the wake, that final launch and over she goes. Back on the boat she’s a dripping mess—she has lots of hair—but smiling ear to ear. “What fun!” she said.

Yes, water toys are fun and they range from tubes to wakeboards, water skis, and kneeboards. Here’s a look at the latest and greatest ways to have a good time on the water.


Tubes encompass a wide range of styles, from ones you ride to floating lounges complete with beverage coolers and seats. Most tubes are so big it’s recommended to have a purpose-built electric pump to inflate the tube—long gone are the days of blowing them up with lung power. Some riding tubes now have bottom fins and leashes for improved directional control. For example, the MixMaster from SportsStuff is an action tube that allows riders to do tricks on the water.

“The old tube philosophy was jump on and hold on for the ride,” says Mike Pleiss, marketing director for Kwik Tek, the parent company for the Airhead and SportsStuff brands of water toys. “We take it a step further with our action tubes. The SportsStuff MixMaster 2 is for one or two riders and has fins on the front and back, and you can do a 180-degree turn when you rock back and forth. Once you get that rocking motion down you can pull 360- and 720-degree spins, so it gets very creative.”

The Grandstand 2 allows two riders to stand up and hold onto dual steering leashes, and there are also grip handles so riders can hang on in any position while on the water. In addition, sharp graphics let other boat drivers know you are coming. “We also have a lot of non-spinning tubes,” Pleiss explains. “We have cockpit-style towables, great for small children because they feel secure sitting inside.”

Floating lounges have become bigger and better, and the Cabana Islander offers interior seating, a center swim porthole, sun protection, and boarding platform. There’s also a 16-quart cooler built into the side, and the Islander is constructed of heavy-gauge PVC with a detachable wind-resistant nylon cabana top.