Bow seating

Corrosion, Paint, Through Hulls, etc.
User avatar
Tin star
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:18 am

Bow seating

Postby JoeGer » Wed Nov 06, 2019 11:39 am

I've noticed on many 32' ers, there is integrated bench seat on the bow above the salon instead of the forward windows. This is similar to CC Catalina designs of the 70's/80's.
My 28' and most other models in all BigM shapes and sizes contain the forward window in that spot with NO bow seating. But since I drive strictly from my bridge, I would really like the option to allow passengers to ride the front at slow speeds, ensure the safety of my passengers, and remain within regulations.

According to Michigan Boating regulation, it is illegal to ride the bow if the vessel is not equipped with bow seating (and travelling above wake speed). I tend to think riding on my bow as it is dangerous at any speed, so my questions are as follows.

1. Is it lawful/legal to ride in on the forward bench seating as noted above on the BigM 32' versions with the integrated bow (bench) seating?

2. Assuming the above answer is yes, has anyone modified or crafted a secure seating configuration on the bow of their BigM (without the bench) that would qualify as 'legal'?

Thank you
1984 28’ Sedan Fly-bridge
Twin 318
Lower Detroit River, USA

User avatar
Royal Aluminum Star
Posts: 402
Joined: Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:05 am
Location: Aurora, In.

Re: Bow seating

Postby bcassedy » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:46 am

Appears that this is something where there are different state regulations that govern riding in the bow area.

But it seems there's a general train of thought / regulatory bent...
- If there's a seat / seating area in the front of the boat that we originally created during the manufacturing process, then it should be ok,
- no appendages can hang over the boat's edge (ie. no sitting on gunwale, hanging legs/arms over the side....),
- if your boat doesn't have an intentionally created seating location in the front of the boat, you can't create one yourself... So no bow riding.

It would be best to contact your state's DNR regarding the subject to get a lawful answer (mine's just an opinion from researching the web). AND... if you take your boat to another state (such as living here in the Cincinnati, Ohio area and being able to cruise the Ohio River where jurisdictions cover Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, getting a "heads up" from all three state's DNR departments would be a good idea.

Bill & Sharon Cassedy
"Sunset Seeker"
'88 32' Sedan Bridge
Located in Aurora, In.
Twin 318cu in Chrysler
1.5:1 Velvet drive trannies
Fresh water only

Site Admin
Posts: 385
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2014 6:18 am
Location: Kentucky

Re: Bow seating

Postby barkleydave » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:19 am

Each state's regulations vary on this issue. Most deal with it in their definition of "Careless Operation"

State Law can be more restrictive than Federal Regulations.

Generally speaking vessels which have rails and hand holds are considered being designed for occupants while underway. Now what are the persons doing? Examples of hanging over railings high deck chairs on cabin tops may also observed as unsafe. Now other state definitions have a factory installed seating requirement.

Check with your state boating regulations. Riding on Gunwhales,Seat backs or swim platforms would be universally considered "unsafe practice"
1987 Marinette 29 FB Sedan
Retired Boat Accident UL and USCG trained investigator
Retired USCG Captain