Sitting Up Or In Your Classic Boat?

wecatch-2Yesterday on the Woody Boater facebook page someone commented that. “Amazes me that people want to set on top of the seats & look over the windscreen. I prefer to set down in the seats. It looks better” mmmmmm, there’s an interesting question to throw out to the citizens of Woody Boaterville. Is it OK? I mean, should we always sit inside of the boat?

we 21 Header?

All inside the boat under way at speed.

Yes, from a safety standpoint. And yes, if you are sitting on a place that does not support your fat you know what. We get that. Danneberg goes off the deep end regarding this issue. Especially since he has replaced so many seat backs. But what about a boat like our 25 Sportsman. I mean even the factory shows its OK.

1949 Chris Craft 25 Sportsman BW

Labor day 25 sportsman

When just slowly running, it sure feels good to feel the brezze

And I can attest that this is a natural place to sit. What about the engine hatch? Dangerous? Maybe if there is an explosion. But it does have a cushion on it.

Sit up


we 207 Becky

Becky enjoying the summer wind

Labor Kelsey Suzy Driving

Kelsey and the Boatress enjoying the fresh air. I will also add, from a photography stand point, it looks better creating a more full image.

LAbor Suzy Kelsy arm

The Boatress sits on several vintage boat cushions and on one knee to see over the windshield when under way.

I personally sit up when driving, maybe a bit dorky, but I like the breeze, and the Boatress needs to see since she sits low. Also our engine has a bit, of blow by and it can get a little stinky up there. In certain boats the windshield drops down which completely removes the reason to sit up? So whats your opinion on the matter? Is it a boat by boat thing? Is it just wrong?



56 replies
  1. Suzy Smith
    Suzy Smith says:

    Live Life Full Throttle. Who doesn’t like a little wind in their hair? Isn’t that part of “Woody Boating”?

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    About the only boat that I consistently look through the windshield on is American Beauty. (kind of hard to look over that one)

    What is really nice is at the right spot the wind goes over your head so you can still where a hat but your vision is unobstructed by looking over the top of the windshield.

    Unfortunately I have heard that gunwale riding has now become illegal in some states. I say “It’s your thing, do what you want to do.”

  3. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Boats don’t ride flat like cars. Looking over the windshield gives a much better view of what is infront of you, especially when going on and off plane.

  4. Tuobanur
    Tuobanur says:

    When I’m easing around I like to set up, breeze and view, but when I’m at speed I like being down in the seat to enjoy the ride.

  5. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    I like to sit on several cushons too and look over the windshield. Less distortion and a better view of what other boats are doing. Perfect load for my boat is two up front and one on the engine hatch. Gets on plane faster! At speed 3 in front.

  6. Phillip Jones
    Phillip Jones says:

    People get in the habit of doing that for good reason CC, and Century all ride bow high, except for the CC racer. also with CC there is blow-by alot of times. You can cure that with shims/ wedges on the transom, to bring her down as CC suggested in there memos. They act as trim tabs, and this requires a little experimentation. Or you could look at the larger Garwoods and Hackers that do not have this problem. Or ( and you know this was coming), get a Shepherd over power it :):):) and she runs flat as a board and through anything.

  7. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    I like to stand up when sometimes when cruising somewhat slower in my 22 sea skiff because you can see better and the seat back is only 1 board so would not support me. When I had a 22 sportsman I also liked to sit on the seat back to see a little better and get a little wind in your face but in that boat when seated for some reason I felt like I was somewhat trapped in as the seat and steering was close together,

  8. Alan Smith
    Alan Smith says:

    There is a picture of mu great uncle trying to get a bunch of boats lined up for a picture of a bunch of Chris Crafts why back when. If I was EVER seen riding on the seat back, I lost my boat for a long time. If a bad wave hit me, the prop could have me for lunch.

  9. BG MacKenzie
    BG MacKenzie says:

    My 1949 century reporter has the old “gas pedal”… So sitting on top of the seats can be tricky but it’s way better to see over the front unless you are running wide open and planed out..

  10. Sean
    Sean says:

    The Greavette has beautifully cushioned, upholstered flat seat tops. These are a natural perch for slow cruising, no wake zones or approaching a dock. This elevated position is also better for spotting “deadheads” etc… while under weigh. Sometimes I even stand but, I do not sit on the gunwale as it is both awkward and uncomfortable. At speed I usually have my butt in the seat or sit on one knee. I say do what feels right but, if you do sit up at speed, wear an engine tether and your PFD!

  11. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    My Coronado has such a high windshield, that is gets hot at low speeds. Even the side vents do not help. Luckily, the seat back is 6 inches thick, and makes for a good seat.
    The old Lyman windshields were the best with their flip up design, to open at any amount you want.
    Well, sitting on the engine box is another story. It is Ronnie’s favorite spot to sit, even after almost being tossed out of the Lyman during a photo shoot on Lake Dora.
    Matt can you find that picture?
    In the new Coronado, we have the ski tow ring on the engine hatch, and I was going to remove it, since we use the back lifting ring to tube with. But Ronnie insisted I leave it in place, so she can used it as her “Sissy Handle” when she sits on the hatch, just in case I get crazy again jumpin waves.

  12. John Baas
    John Baas says:

    In Wisconsin, it is unlawful to:
    While operating a motorboat to allow any person to ride or sit on the gunwales, tops of seat, backs or sides or on the decking over the bow while under way, unless such person is inboard of guards or railings provided on the boat to prevent passengers from being lost overboard, except for anchoring, mooring or cast off.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Well, I just crossed Wisconsin off my list of possible states to live in. It joins Pennsylvania with that state’s nanny attitude toward buying beer when I feel like it.

  13. Alan Weinstein
    Alan Weinstein says:

    Ing. Carlo Riva addressed this by designing a flip up helm seat that is built for a higher sitting position, with foot pads, during normal operation. This also allows for comfortable standing at the helm station for performance running and docking.

  14. Grant Stanfield
    Grant Stanfield says:

    Sea Skiff captains ‘do it’ standing up…for greater sensation, deeper pleasure and more control! ?

  15. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    We motor along sitting on the seat backs of our boats ,or in the case of the big skiff – standing, all the time. Nice to have wind in your face!

    We got pulled over by some sort of over-zealous law enforcement officer last March while cruising up the St. Johns River because a passenger was sitting on the gunnel, gunwhale or covering board (whatever you want to call it). I had no idea it was illegal and frankly though it was pretty much a joke to be pulled over for that “offence” on a dead flat river.

    Many new sport boats have the drivers seat cushions that fold up (like the Riva noted here) and allow the operators’ head to clear the windshield comfortably.

  16. John A. Gambill
    John A. Gambill says:

    Around here in Southern Michigan if you are sitting on a seat back or riding the gunnel while under way the water cops will pull you over pronto and issue a ticket. Not aloud here.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      John, it may be law, but we’ve never had an issue with this in da U.P. Perhaps our local officials use judgment and common sense when it comes to operating a boat safely. We all know what common sense on the water looks like.

  17. Rick
    Rick says:

    I seem to be a little larger that Panther was made for so sitting up is a lot more comfortable though I do sit down while docking for better shift control. Am I the only one with this problem? I wonder when the next Weight Watchers meeting is?

  18. Bill Anderson
    Bill Anderson says:

    Good Subject today,,My Hair has been gone for years so the flowing in the wind is out,My eyes don’t see in the wind so that is out,and even tho the seats are maid out of the dreaded Tupperware my body doesn’t appreciate sitting very comfortable on the top of seat,so with that said I will see ya in Minn Bill

  19. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    It’s all about the breeze, man. My old Cadet had a folding flat windshield so there was no need. A U-22, 25-SP, Mighty Arabian etc are all built for elevated seating. Perfect for a hot day.

    I will admit, though, most of us look much better sitting on the seat.

  20. Randy
    Randy says:

    I have used the seat top on my ’69 Resorter for a perch before — much easier to see ‘prop-eatin’ debris in the water.

    My only problem is with people who use the chrome windshield frame for a handhold — too delicate for that!

  21. Brian F
    Brian F says:

    With out ’69 Cavalier Ski Boat I almost always ride up on the seat back due to the heat trapped by the giant windscreen! Also our’s is original ’69 Plexi so it is starting to craze and fog up so it can be rather difficult to see debris and such thru the windscreen. Although, when I running with the toddler in the front seat I sit down to have better control over him and boat (but that’s also usually on our lake and familiar waters). When out on unknown waters I, or a spotter, will always be looking over the windscreen. I also share Randy’s sentiment about the window frame, as ours is a single piece aluminum frame that has already been cracked and welded in the corners due to folks “pulling down” to get themselves out of the seat..
    Here’s a pic of the view above the Plexi…

  22. Brian F
    Brian F says:

    And here’s the view thru the Plexi… With the old Plexi, big mustang wheel, and horn in the middle of the deck, the view is quite obstructed!!

  23. Al Campbell
    Al Campbell says:

    Matt. Choosing the safe place to sit or stand when underway surely involves personal judgment, thoughtfulness and common sense. The large issue here is safety. Personally, I’m keen on wearing flotation always when underway. Please consider a photo shoot on t
    of well fitting and fashionable pfds. Could be fun!

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Al, great point. Lack of life jackets is really behind most boating deaths. Well, that and booze. It’s why I always wear mine and insist my family members do too. But I still chafe at the thought of lifejacket laws. Each new law, while perhaps well-intended, and in some cases necessary, shaves away a little more at freedom.

  24. Kevin F
    Kevin F says:

    I have a U-22 and I stand most of the time (on the seats), just the wind and the waves invade my hearing. Even docking, I use my foot for the gear shift, just using the engine torque to back into the slip; minimal steering required.

    I do like the breeze in this hot and humid part of the country. On breezy days, I either stand or hide behind the windshield, depending upon the need to make frequent steering corrections to minimize spray dampening my passengers and ruining their drinks.

    My boat has suffered for many years with weak seat backs that prevented their use for sitting. This year I had them reinforced, so now I can sit there with impunity.

    I can only dream about ventilating windshields….

  25. john Ulrich
    john Ulrich says:

    Back in the good old days of my youth, you sat on the gunwale of the old windshield less 16 ft Searay with one eye on the water skier and one eye on the dock with the ladies sun tanning….. the trick was positioning so the skier could take a good “cut” and spray off the ladies.

  26. Scott K
    Scott K says:

    Y’all just need XK19’s 🙂
    Great view while seated and not as much wind in the face as one would assume.

  27. Chris
    Chris says:

    Running a couple of 60-80 footers out of Charleston it’s pretty common to find me perched atop the fly bridge helm seat. It isn’t for a better view of the water but a better view of world.

    The breeze is wonderful but you can hear better. Along the ICW sound is our first clue to shallow water, you hear long before the depth alarm sounds.

    From the pilot house no captain of a large boat would ever sit, as standing is nearly mandatory with paying guests aboard.

    That said, I expect, that once I get that last coat of varnish on my 56 Capri and in the water I’ll not sit on the seat back. I don’t think it would support my 190 pounds for long.

  28. Alex
    Alex says:

    My number of comments above show that this subject touched a nerve with me. Now I need to go for a run to burn off the grrrrr.

    Here’s more.

    1. I wear a lifejacket. It’s just smart. I’m not criticizing those who do not. Just offering my strong encouragement. My friends know how I feel about this. I’d be saddened to lose any one of them to drowning. This includes people within the WoodyBoater community, whether friends or not. Self-inflating PFDs can be very comfortable and unobtrusive. And one gets used to them and soon doesn’t even notice them, just like seatbelts in cars.

    2. My family wear lifejackets too. Any of my kids seen in a boat without one will be taken off the water and lose boating privileges for a while. I’ve never had to do this. They “get it.”

    3. I sit on the super strong seatback and / or gunwale of my 25′ Sportsman when I cruise at slow to moderate speeds. Common sense tells me to sit down at speed. I rarely sit on the seatback of my 22-U. This is because the seatback isn’t as robust as that of a 25SP, even though I weigh only 145 lbs. Nor is it as deep, making it less comfortable.

    4. I encourage my kids and their friends to sit on the large front deck of the 25 SP when we putt along, say, to the annual Independence Day fireworks over the water in Cedarville, MI. I am creating for them the same experiences and memories I cherish from my own childhood riding that exact same spot. “Sit down and shut up” obligations and nanny state laws will not help kids remain classic boaters in adulthood.

    5. My daughter (my firstborn) is now of age to solo in a boat. I will not tell her to stay off the seatback. But I will expect her to use the same judgment I do about how, where, and when. To date, she has demonstrated very good responsibility and trustworthiness behind the wheel.

    6. As an extra measure, I’ve installed lanyard cut off switches on our main boats (those the kids operate). These are beneath the dash so, for shows, can be totally hidden. (If judges object to the non-originality of the install, I couldn’t care less. Points should not be deducted for adding discreet, well-executed safety features. In fact, ACBS should be encouraging this sort of thinking, before a tragedy causes such a standard to be revisited.) My daughter and, soon, her brothers, are expected to attach the lanyard to their PFD when they operate from the seatback. I’m sure it wouldn’t stop the boat or prop in time to avoid a strike, but it will stop the boat from leaving them behind. My insurance against a prop strike is not to hang over the side, and to ride up there only when conditions are good and speed is moderate. Common sense.

    7. In windless conditions, I sometimes dock our 22-U sitting on the seatback, steering with my hand and operating the gear shifter with my foot. We’re talking idle speed folks, a hydraulic transmission, and a boat that is sorted out like butta. I must say, it feels cool to be that comfortable docking. Not bragging by any means. And I don’t care if anyone notices this. Just brings a smile when I do. I don’t want my kids doing this though. Started doing this in my late 40s.

    8. Would classic boating be where it is today had Billy not demonstrated the total freedom and joy of riding the seatback in Thayer IV (On Golden Pond)? Hell no!

  29. peter diebold
    peter diebold says:

    many years ago, i was a passenger on a big chris craft (not much speed but BIG wake). idiot – sitting on on seat back/side of 16′ century goes through wake at top speed – est. 40. splash clears, he’s in the water, boat does a big circle (about 3-5 mi.) through sun. afternoon traffic including large sailboat race ends up on beach. we pick up idiot, push boat off beach. he motors off. miracle nobody hurt. don’t EVER OPERATE A SPEED BOAT SITTING ON THE SEAT BACK/SIDE,

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Peter. He’s a lucky man. Used up one life with that stunt.

      The issue, however wasn’t where he was riding. It was his ignorance or recklessness or inexperience in sitting there: a) at high speed; and b) while crossing cruiser (or, for that matter, any) wake.

  30. Mike Smith
    Mike Smith says:

    my 64 holiday 18 actually has the steering column offset to steer while sitting on the gunnel and seatback. is actually a little uncomfortable while sitting down in the seat. I believe it was set up that way to observe your skier back in the days when observers were not required.

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