You can actually add quite a few different boat types in the open-bow boat category. Although, most of the time, when people talk about an open bow boat, they are actually thinking of bowrider boats.
An open bow boat has as main characteristic seating for passengers situated at deck level, somewhere inside the bow area of the boat. This area is forward of the boat’s helm. The most common boats that are part of the family-friendly open bow boat category are the deck boats and the bowriders. In the same category can also be added open bow boats such as:
- Jet Boat
- Ski Boat (most of them at least)
- Fish and Ski
- Wake Boat
- Deck Boat
- Center Console
- Dual Console
Most open bow boats, with a few exceptions such as Center Console and Dual Console boats, are not great for waves and swales, being made mostly for inland lakes. Although each has a purpose for its design, being made to enhance different boating needs, they are made around watersports usage and family activities.
Bow Seating Design and Bowrider Hull
Most of the time, when talking about an open bow boat, people actually refer to the bowrider boat. This is still a true statement, but the truth is that there are at least 7 other different designs of boats that can be considered open bow boats. Being so family-friendly and versatile, the bowrider design is actually the design that boat lovers go for the most.
Boats having the bowrider style also have a few different propulsion systems. Among the most common system for propulsion of bowrider boats are the stern drive, also known as the I/O (basically an Outboard), and the Jet Drive. The differences between these drive systems are pretty significant, each prevailing over the others in certain areas and having a specific usage.
The bowrider has a more narrow open bow shape, that comes to a point to the front. This particular shape of the hull makes the boat more nimble in turns and allows it to cut the waves as it moves. When compared to other hull designs for open bow boats, the bowrider hull design is also made to be able to show higher top speeds.
You will find the main cabin of the bowrider boat away split from the bow by a full windshield. The bow area can be accessed through an opening in the center of the windshield. There are also bigger bowriders that have other features on board, like a shower, toilet, sinks, and even fresh, drinkable water.
You can fill your bowrider with all kinds of accessories, depending on what you actually need. If you want to enhance the looks of the boat, you can add a bimini top or wake tower. This will also add functionality to the boat. There have even been people that have added stowable grills or grill mounts on their open bow boats.
Dual Console Boats Have An Open Bow
Although there are some differences between them, a lot of Dual Console are confused with bowriders. The Dual Console boat is made to be more worthy for sea trips, although both these boats have pretty similar open bow designs. It also is somewhat more utilitarian. It comes with less of a plush interior than the bowrider and will usually have no comfort features like carpets.
It doesn’t have a carpeted floor for a reason. Instead of opting for comfort, it instead has a deck designed to drain off the water that bursts in from the sides of the boat. The hull design of Dual Console boats can take on much bigger waves than a Bowrider, which is why these boats have really become famous in coastal areas.
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These boats are considered crossovers. The Dual Console comes as a perfect choice for people that feel they aren’t ready to move past the Bowrider style, although they need the sea-worthy features of the Center Console boats.
Keep in mind that you will usually have to switch drive systems when going for a Dual Console open bow. You will also find outboard motors on Dual Console boats. The drive system is actually better for this particular boat type. The power of the boat won’t be a problem either, because outboards still pack quite the force.
The limitations of a Center Console will be noticeable if you’re only getting this boat to use it when going fishing. This is because the Dual Console open bow isn’t all that great for standing. In fact, it was designed mostly for sitting. You will also notice that you won’t be able to get into the open bow area by walking the sides of the boat. This is because it actually comes with a windshield and a console on the starboard and the port sides. Although not ideal, this placement still has a benefit and that is the head. You will usually find a sink and an enclosed toiled in the port side console.
The Center Console Has An Open Bow
The Center Console boat has the perfect design if you only need a boat to take on the water for fishing. This boat type has very simple seating, which makes it easy to walk along the inside walls from the stern to the bow. It’s very important to be able to walk from one side of the boat to the other, especially when you have a fish struggling on the line.
The Center Console and the Dual Console boats have a very similar design to the hull. They have a taller top edge of the sidewalls of the boat and a deep V. This is, of course, one particularity that is seen in most designs, although each manufacturer has his own unique design.
The powerful outboards along with the features I`ve talked about above make both of these open bow boats great for traveling further off-shore into the ocean.
Deck Boats Have Spacious Open Bows
Very similar to a pontoon boat, the Deck Boat has a design that has been thought to create a very open boat, which is why it also has a very open bow. When you take into account the floor space and seating, the Deck boat is really the better design for watersports and family activities.
As a general rule, you will notice that deck boats have very little separation between the rear and front sections of the boat if any. The boat will have just one windshield, in front of the console, which is represented by the helm. This makes it not only part of the open bow category but also one of the boats with the most open concept altogether.
The Deck Boat has a design that is very different from the Bowrider, being powered by either an outboard motor or an I/O system. In general, deck boat hulls will be flatter at the stern and broader at the bow. It will feature a lot more usable space when compared to the average open bow Bowrider, while also providing a pretty decent ride.
Wake Boats Have An Open Bow
You will notice that wake boats will have an open bow for seating. They are mostly used for wakeboarding but can be used for other watersports just as well. You will also find ballast tanks that are built in the wake boat, which you can always fill with water from the lake. When you fill these tanks with water the boat will gain extra weight so that it can sink deeper into the water. This will create a much bigger wake.
The wake surfer or wakeboarder will actually use the large wake behind the boat when it rides deep in the water to enhance the riding and trick height. With just a push of a button that you can find at the helm, you can add or remove water from these ballast tanks. To make sure that you can always customize the wake shape and size, the boat has several tanks.
The seating provided by this open bow design will provide space for passengers. This is because the boat’s aft section is active, having surfboards and wakeboards getting in and out of the waketower, as well as riders that will prepare for their turn. If you want to stay out of the way while getting ready for your turn, the bow is where you want to be.
Although the wake boat does have a powerful engine that is able to push it through the water even when it is full of people and ballast tanks, it isn’t really a boat made for speed. You will find a V-drive system in most wake boats.
Fish And Ski Boats Also Have A Dual Purpose Open Bow
The Fish and Ski boats are perfect for inland lakes, especially if you have a family that wants to go on the water for waterskiing and tubing along with the occasional fishing. The design of this boat will feature regular seating with an open bow, although it will also have a removable pedestal seat that can go right to the open bow.
You will find the same hull design in the Fish and Ski boat as you’d find in a bowrider.
The Fish and Ski boats are great for waterskiing, tubing, and fishing, although they aren’t fitted with huge engines. They will usually have either an outboard motor or the I/O (inboard/outboard) system. This is the boat to buy if you’re planning of using it mostly for fishing.
Ski Boats Have Open Bow Seating As Well
Ski boats in general can come with or without the open bow. When it comes to Ski boats, it’s less likely that they’d come with a closed bow, because most customers nowadays want the versatility of the open bow. Even though they are rare, there still are Ski Boats with closed bows you can buy.
A lot of polls have been made, one of the more popular ones being hosted on MasterCraft, most of them showing that people usually choose an open bow for their Ski Boats when they have the choice. This is because an open bow will give you more room for additional people while also enabling you to walk up and tie off at the dock.
A direct drive system powers Ski Boats. You will find the engine at a slight angle downward, right in the center of the boat. The driveshaft will come to the transmission of the engine right through the hull of the boat. The prop is at the end of the shaft, forward of the transom. YOu will find the rudder riding just behind the prop.
Jet Boats Have Open Bow Seating Usually
You can’t deny the advantages of Jet Boats, although they are not the go-to open bow boats for most people. One advantage is that there is no propeller you can get injured on and another one is that this type of boat works great in shallow waters.
Jet Boats also have impellers.
Open Bow Boats – Final Words
Open bow boats are the favorite of a lot of water lovers. These types of boats are what people often imagine when thinking about going on the water, although they aren’t necessarily comfortable enough to spend the night sleeping in them. The diversity an open bow boat provides is unbeatable when you want to take your family to the lake for some fun.