Sailing into a world of fun

A parasailing adventure, for both the novice and thrill-seeker, is one for the books. The first flight may be frightening at first, but will soon drift away once the the wind fills the parasail and lifts you into the air for a bird's-eye view. One thing to keep in mind is that the sport is not specifically regulated by federal authorities, and only a few states have stepped into the void. Therefore, the rules regarding parasail activities are often created by the companies offering the service. If you have questions about parasailing, you are likely to find the answers here.

How does parasailing work?

A parasailing adventure is a little like going up on a kite. You start by boarding a boat and putting on a life jacket and harness. The harness is attached to a parasail that looks a lot like a parachute. The boat operator heads into the wind, and as the parasail rises, it lifts you up as you are suspended from the parasail by ropes.

This is really more like a thrill ride than a sport, since you have no control over what happens. You cannot steer or control the lift of the parasail. You simply drift – hundreds of feet above the ocean – with the breeze in your face and aerial view of the scenery.

How old do you have to be to go parasailing?

Most companies set a minimum age limit at 6 years old to participate in parasailing. To fly alone, however, you usually have to weigh over 100 pounds, but lighter people can team up to ride with someone else. There are no federal rules governing this, and most states leave it up to the operators. Anyone under the age of 18 usually has to get a parent to sign the liability release.

Can two people fly together?

Two or even three people can sit side by side in the swing-like harness. Different operators have different rules about this, however, so ask before you buy your tickets. The maximum weight for everyone flying together is about 425 pounds.

Do you have to know how to swim to parasail?

You don't need to know how to swim, nor do you need to be physically fit. As long as you are over 6 years old and under 425 pounds, you can usually go parasailing. All you do is sit back on the seat and enjoy the ride.

What states regulate parasailing?

New Jersey and Florida are the only states that regulate parasailing. The laws cover elements of parasailing, such as appropriate weather, required equipment, vessel logs, how high you can go and how far from shore. The FAA applies kite regulations to parasailing which limits how high you can go up.

When can you parasail?

No legal limits restrict you to parasail during a certain season. Typically, most parasailing is done in the summer months in states or regions that get cool in autumn or winter. Many boat operators won't go out in windy or dangerous weather.

Do you get wet while you are parasailing?

You don't have to get wet, but you can if you want to. If so, wear your bathing suit.

Is parasailing safe?

With any sport, there are risks involved. Check that your harness is secure before take off.