A bow rider or bowrider is a type of boat which has a seating area in the bow, the forward part of the ship. Bow riders are generally designed for recreational use such as day cruising or water skiing, and they come in a variety of styles from luxurious to basic. Several manufacturers of boats produce bow riders, in both mass production and custom models for their clients, and such boats are often available for rental at facilities which offer boats for rent to people who do not maintain their own watercraft.
On a bow rider, the area in front of the helm can be used for seating or lounging. Protective rails designed to prevent falls are installed, along with seats which may include seat belts, depending on the boat design. A flat deck is designed with a nonslip surface so that people can walk comfortably, and some bow riders have enough space for people to stretch out and lie down, with people using the area as a sun pad.
This type of runabout boat is powered by a variety of types of engine, depending on the size of the boat and the style. Some are designed to go quite fast, while others are intended to be used for more casual cruising. The design is most well suited to inland waterways and calm lakes, not the open ocean. Like other runabouts, a bow rider lacks accommodations such as sleeping spaces, a galley, and a bathroom, since it is intended for short day use only.
Sitting in the bow area can be enjoyable because it allows people to catch a breeze and enjoy some of the spray kicked up by the progress of the boat. The view from a bow rider is also excellent, as passengers can look straight ahead without any obstructions. A more luxuriously outfitted boat can include padded seating, small wet bars, and other features which are designed to enhance passenger comfort and enjoyment.
People occasionally confuse the term “bow rider” with “bow riding.” Bow riding is a practice in which people sit in the bow area while a craft is underway, but the bow is not designed for seating. This can be dangerous because people may fall or be injured if the bow area lacks proper seating, safety rails, nonslip surfaces, and other safety features. In some areas, the practice is illegal, and boaters can be cited for allowing bow riding on their boats.