Next to the small fishing boat, Bowriders have to be the top choice of first time boat buyers. They get their name from the seating area in the front of the boat. Bowriders are an extremely popular type of boat among all kinds of boaters. People brand new to boating and seasoned veterans who’ve spent years on the water are attracted to these craft. Reason why is their versatility. The average 20 footer is roomy enough for 8 to 10 people, great for day cruising, water sports and light fishing They typically feature stylish designs/graphics and are moderately priced, just an ideal boat for a great day on the water.
In the early days, bowriders were typically small boats ranging from 16-20’ in length. In recent years, bowriders have greatly evolved in size and features to attract a greater range of buyer. Let’s take a look at some of the variations and features offered in today’s boats.
Types of Bowriders
The term “bowrider” covers a wide variety of boats in a great range of sizes 16 to 34 feet. They can be powered with a stern drive (I/O), outboard, jet drive, or inboard motor. The hull designs and layouts vary quite a bit as well. We are going to briefly cover the spectrum of open-bow style bowriders in this article. You might be surprised at how many variations of bowriders are on the market today.
Bowrider (21′ and less)
We’ll start by discussing the smaller size range of bowriders (21′ and less.) Keep in mind that these smaller bowriders, especially the ones under 19′, are meant to be used on smaller bodies of water. Their overall size does not handle rough conditions as well as the larger boats.
Smaller bowriders of 21′ and less will typically feature larger cockpit areas behind the windshield which is a good thing. Should the weather take a turn for the worse the windshield affords the driver and passengers some protection from the elements. A bench seat with sun lounge pad in the rear of the cockpit with dual captain’s chairs is a typical design Most newer boat feature walk thru transom for easier boarding. Space is limited so most boat builders don’t to get fancy with the layout. Most are pretty simple. The biggest difference between different brands will be in the width of the boat. A few inches more beam (width) and freeboard (height) will make a world of difference in cockpit space. Construction quality will vary as well from one brand to another. Prices vary as well ranging from $30 to $50,000
Bowrider (22′ to 28’)
As we move into the larger size range of bowriders, you will find that the overall design is similar, but the layouts and options are much more elaborate. One of the big differences you will start to see in larger bowriders is the variety of layouts available. Some boats will have a U-Shaped seating layout with larger people capacities. In the 24’ range and above most will feature privacy enclosures with heads (toilet facilities) This is a large, deep bowrider capable of handling rough water. Once we get into the higher size range of bowriders (25′-28′), you will begin to see some very innovative layouts. These layouts tend to have seats that switch positions to either accommodate more riders or create a great lounge area on the back of the boat. As you might expect, the price of these larger bowriders can go up substantially.
Bowriders (28’and larger)
There is one more category of bowriders that is even larger than the traditional large bowrider. These boat feature extremely larger cockpit and bow seating areas, twin engines, amenities like radar, A/C, refrigerators, ice makers, etc. In recent years, there has been a demand for a large bowrider that also has a cabin. This gives the boater all the advantages of seating and room offered in a large bowrider, while still having a small cabin. They’re often very sporty and sleek with profiles resembling performance boats of the 90’s.
Fish & Ski Bowriders
If you are looking for a traditional bowrider, but like to do some fishing on the side, a ski & fish bowrider might be perfect for you. Ski & Fish boats have a traditional seating layout, but also have removable seats which double as fishing chairs. They typically also have features such as a trolling motor, live well, rod holders & fish finder. These features in a bowrider basically makes the ski & fish two boats in one. These boats are found in the 18’ to 21’ range and priced comparable to their traditional bow rider counterparts.
What makes a bowrider a great boat for Central Florida lakes and rivers is its versatility, ease of operation and maintenance. They’re very well suited to the activities people enjoy including watersports, day cruising, fishing or just anchoring out for a swim. Bowriders are extremely popular among all kinds of boaters. Ask anyone who’s been boating a long time what their first boat was, odds are better than even they’ll tell you it was a bowrider. Nearly every boat manufacturer offers a bowrider line, so there are a lot of choices on the market.
That’s good news for new buyers. Lots of choices mean you can find exactly what you’re looking for, whether it’s your first boat or your fifth. Lots of choices can require more effort on your part to find what you want. Searching for your first boat is exciting and fun, but it can be confusing. Here at Mt. Dora Boating Center has been helping new boaters get on the water for over 30 years. “Boating Made Easy” is not just a tag line, it’s the way we do business. We take the extra time to learn what experience you want to enjoy on the water than put our expertise to work making your buying and ownership experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. Other sources you might want to research to learn more:
Enjoy the hunt.