IS CLOSED BOW RIDING ILLEGAL YES OR NO
So you can’t answer this without a little tap dancing. For this reason I ask you to read this with an open mind and with a reasonable “safety oriented” mind. It is legal to ride a closed bow as long as a railing is present. Hence, no railing, no riding. That being the case, you still need to exercise extreme caution if you, the operator, are going to allow it. Remember, you can always set the rules for your boat. It is extremely dangerous for someone to be riding a closed bow while the boat is doing anything over slow-no-wake speed. In all honesty, that can be dangerous too. An operator should always account for a health issue that renders a passenger without faculties. This happens to passengers of ALL ages.
Specifically, all operators should NOT allow passengers to:
- One, stand on the gunwale (the upper edge of a ship’s or boat’s side) while underway
- Two, stand on the closed bow of a boat while underway
- Three, hang any portion of their body over the bow or gunwale while underway
- Four, block your vision or ability to operate the boat safely while underway
Furthermore, some laws just don’t account for everything. Guys, its always about safety. We have to interpret a bit. I can say this, if it looks dangerous or unsafe to you, then it probably is. There should be plenty of seating for your passengers to enjoy and plenty of other activities for the thrill-seekers. As the operator, you are responsible for your passengers well being so keep ’em safe! Besides, it you the operator who gets the ticket!
Certainly open bows that provide seating can have passengers. In addition to the above mentioned guidelines, you should always heed the information provided on the Capacity Plate with regards to maximum passengers and maximum weights.
Above all, be smart, be safe, and remember there are no egos when passengers’ lives are in your hands.
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Here is a great article from the U.S. Power Squadron regarding Bow Riding in Connecticut: Safety Corner – Bow Riding (usps.org)