Magical Back Seats – What Is It About That Back Seat In A Classic Boat?

Magic Back Seat - 4

My first ever ride in the aft cockpit of a Chris-Craft Triple – “Red Head II”

Back in early January fellow Woody Boater’s Chris & Julie Bullen (from Canada) sent us a great story titled “Magical Back Seats” along with a collection of photos from their archives highlighting why the back seat in a classic boat can generate pure happiness.

We decided to wait on publishing the story until a weekend when many of our viewers are either snowed in, freezing cold or just plain sick of winter (or all of the above) – and I think most of you will agree, that weekend is HERE!

Chris & Julie’s story brought back some fond memories for me (as I was preparing the story), and reminded me of how much fun I have had riding in the aft cockpits (or back seats) of classic boats over the last few years. My very first ride in the aft cockpit of a Chris-Craft Triple was with my friends Robert & Susan DaPron from Seattle in “Red Head II” their impressive 1928 24′ Model 3 powered by a modern 270HP Mercruiser V-8.

As we left the dock I was expecting Robert to slowly accelerate away as I fumbled with my camera, but instead he hit the throttle and the old girl immediately jumped to attention, and from the aft cockpit all I could see was 22 feet of mahogany deck pointing skyward, along with the sweet sound of the Mercruiser at 4,000 RPM. It was great! (still gives me goosebumps – Texx)

Magic Back Seat - 5

The view from behind in a classic boat is always exciting!

So when fellow Woody Boater Bill Eisenlohr offered to take us for a ride in his 2004 23′ Fish Brothers Triple barrelback “Cinco” on Flathead Lake in Montana – I immediately called “Shotgun” on the aft cockpit.


On Flathead Lake, Montana – A shot from the aft cockpit of “Cinco” Bill Eisenlohr’s 23′ Fish Brothers Barrelback Triple with fellow Woody Boaters Sheena & Andrew Kerfoot from Wood Boat Endeavor in CDA, Idaho in the forward cockpit.

This time I was ready to see the full length of the triple rise for the occasion as Bill brought “Cinco” up on plane, and once again, it was a memorable experience seeing all the boat above me. Although some may think it’s a bit of a wet ride back there, it’s all worth it. It’s also fun to experience the dynamics of the boat from the aft cockpit position as the boat turns and negotiates the water. That day the water on Flathead Lake was flat and the weather was perfect, adding to the overall experience.


Up, Up and Away as Bill quickly gets the big triple up on plane.


Riding in the aft cockpit or back seat of any classic boat is a special experience, providing a wonderful view of your surroundings, as well as the intoxicating sound of the engine just ahead.

Sorry – I began to wander and let the story get away from me (man I love those triples). Here’s the great, thought provoking story we received from Chris & Julie Bullen back in early January including some great video. – Texx

Story & Photos by Chris & Julie Bullen

Texx – Happy New Year! I had a little inspiration for a topic which may generate a few posts with photos.

It’s cold, and to remind me of warmer days I have been looking at some photos and, of course, it got me thinking of boating as every other photo on this computer seems to have a boat in it. By the way this is not an addiction – it’s an appreciation!

I notice a lot of smiles on those in back seats. I think some of the best pictures I have of people in classic boats are in the back seat. What is it about that back seat in a classic boat?

lake geneva 1940 WJ Johnson triple Gatsby

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin – 1940 WJ Johnson Triple “Gatsby”.

Is it the view, you can see the whole boat and the surroundings! Or maybe you’re closer to the water and the thrill of speed is exaggerated. Sometimes, or I should say often, it’s a risk in the back of some of the triples being close to the water – it means you may have some water in the boat with you!

Big Cruise For a Big Cause, getting very wet, Gatsby

Girls just wanna have fun – getting very wet in the back seat on board “Gatsby” during the Big Cruise for a Big Cause on Lake Muskoka.

agmchicago remember the waves going back to the ramp on lake Michigan

ACBS International pre-event near Chicago, riding the rollers out on Lake Michigan on the way back to the launch ramp.

table rock, CC crusier

A happy couple enjoying a cruise in the back seat of a Chris-Craft Cruiser at Table Rock, MO.

agm tablerock ditchburn  tolka

Table Rock, MO – Friends enjoying the back seat of “Tolka” – Lee Anderson’s historic 1928 36′ Limousine Launch.

lake Muskoka agm. grand craft Woodchuck

Chris Bullen (middle) and crew aboard “Woodchuck” on Lake Muskoka during the ACBS International.

This area of the boat is a pretty special place, where friends and couples are relaxed and laugh the day away, and just having a great time with no worries in the world. For me the new year means boating is just around the corner and that makes me smile.

Cheers – Chris Bullen

OK – Anybody Want To Go For A Virtual Boat Ride Today?

Chris & Julie Bullen currently own “RIOT” (formerly named “King of Harts”) a very cool 1995 Clarion 25′ GC-4. This award winning all Canadian project was built by Clarion Wooden Boats in Campbellford, Ontario. The Gold Cup series of gentlemen’s racers was conceived by Dwight Boyd in 1986 with the final design being completed by Steve Killing in 1987.


Chris & Julie’s 1995 Clarion 25′ GC-4 now re-named “RIOT” – Cobourg Kid Photo

The Clarion GC boats were inspired by and built in reverence to, the Gold Cup Race boats of the 1920’s and 30’s. In particular the famous campaigner “Baby Bootlegger”. Clarion sought to capture the spirit and exuberance of this spectacular racer and indeed of the era. With rounded sheer and fluid lines, the Gold Cup 25’s are beyond the ordinary and create excitement on the water or at the dock.

“RIOT” is the fourth and the last of the series, her keel was laid in 1993 and registered in 1995. Although all four boats were built on the same hull form, each one has its own individual characteristics and details that distinguish it from the others. Her 415 HP – 502 cu/in (8.2L) Mercruiser engine provides spirited performance for this Gentleman’s Racer which can reach speeds in excess of 55 mph.

So let’s join Chris & Julie for a virtual boat ride!

Clarion year one from Chris on Vimeo.

Clarion Wooden Boats has a great website which includes some nice video of some other projects they have built over the years. You can Click Here to go there.

Special thanks to Chris & Julie Bullen for sharing this story and video with us today. It certainly helps to get us through the winter. If you have some photos from the back of the boat, we would love to see them today.


19 replies
  1. Bob Kays
    Bob Kays says:

    Great story and video! Here in 2005 is my son Alex and nephew Patrick in the back seat of Wayne Mocksfield’s 1997 21′ Way – Craft ” Sleaper”

  2. Graeme Beattie
    Graeme Beattie says:

    Taking my American cousins for a ride aboard Miss Muskoka on a cool Canadian Thanksgiving day in 1991.

  3. Denis D
    Denis D says:

    Departing historic Wolfeboro on Chuck & Lyn Schwager’s “Madoshumi V”, the 1st of 7 26′ Special Race Boats built 1934 – 36. This was during the 2013 New Hampshire Boat Museum annual Boathouse Tour of Lake Winnipesaukee.

  4. Denis D
    Denis D says:

    Due to the windblown waves, on the return trip through the broads our boatmates opted for the drier forward cockpit.

  5. Taco
    Taco says:

    My neighbour Johan at the back seat of my Chris craft Silver arrow during an eleven hours trip in Germany 2011.

  6. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    Nephew Phillip and his fiancee Diana in “The Princess Seat” during a ride on Lake Greenwood, SC in September 2013. We call the third row “The Princess Seat” because it’s the smoothest ride in our Greavette. If we remember to pull the fenders in after leaving the dock, there is very little splash, so it’s a dry ride as well. On our Greavette, there is a path between the second and third rows, so one does not have to climb over the engine compartment to change positions.

  7. Bob Kays
    Bob Kays says:

    The Exalted Grand Poobah of Woody Boaterville and me in the back seat Bob Rice’s 1949 22′ Sportsman, last summer at Lake Hopatcong.

  8. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    Here’s one of my favorites of my son and his buddy snoozing, face down in the 3rd cockpit of my old Chris Craft…..

  9. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    I think everyone but the skipper (me) was asleep when we got back to the dock on this trip! It was a smooth ride that day… 🙂

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