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Why Boston Whaler?

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  • Why Boston Whaler?

    This question is not intended to slight any of the truly great boat manufacturers in the industry. In fact, it is them (far too many to name) and my own that I am thinking about when I ask this question of you.

    But why do Boston Whalers create such affection and such a loyal following among boaters?

    I've owned one in my time. It was a fine classic boat... not too sweet into the chop, to be sure, and developed spider cracks in the gelcoat terribly, but was a very bouyant vessel for over 3 decades. It did it's job very well. I almost owned a couple more were it not for the cost vs value inequality that I could not overcome, so I walked.

    But even in neglected condition, they sell quickly and not for cheap. Buyers are just willing to pay more for them.

    Any my question is why? Is it a phenomenon or a phase? Will it flatten out or will it always be this way?

    I've really can't think of another boat with this kind of effect?
    Rot never sleeps.


  • #2
    Re: Why Boston Whaler?

    I think one thing is the sense of security one has in a Whaler.

    My interest in Boston Whalers began in 1967, when a squall line hit a huge fleet of boats on Lake Michigan that were fishing for salmon on the MI side of the lake. Hundreds of boats were sunk or swamped, 73 fishermen were lost. Three boats ran through the squalls and arrived safely after the storms had passed. All three were Boston Whaler 16s. I personally buried the bow of my Boston Whaler Sakonnet 16 in a wave in the Gulf Stream. . . completely swamping the boat. . .and drove her dry.

    Another thing is the fit and finish and the superior materials used throughout a Whaler. Well kept Classic Whalers get attention in the marina like a Bentley does in a parking lot.

    I disagree about the cost/value equation. I paid $3200 for my Sakonnet (new) in 1968 and sold her in 1983 for $6500. Every Whaler but one I ever owned was sold for more than I paid for it and after years of service. The exception was my 1983 Outrage 18, which I bought new for $24,000 and sold four years later for only $20,000.

    Piloting a Boston Whaler is as addictive as driving a Mercedes or BMW. They inspire confidence.

    I have owned seven. I still want an early 70s Outrage 21.
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    • #3
      Re: Why Boston Whaler?

      As JB said, Whalers inspire loyalty and hold value. This is much like what SeaRay did in the early 80s, however eventually SeaRay had quality problems, and lost their reputation for top notch boats, IMHO.

      If I were in the market for a Whaler, you can bet I would inspect the quality of the boats I saw. Everyone can have quality or design problems. For example, my neighbor has a two-three year old 27 foot center console Whaler, w/ twin screws. The quality is pretty good, but some things are strange. A mounting screw (1/4"-20) that held the boarding ladder, broke off. The problem was that the backside of the screw was buried inside the inner hull. We did not have a method to replace it. In addition, as I looked around, it was obvious that a lot of stuff was buried inside the inner hull. I find this to be at the minimum, annoying.

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      • #4
        Re: Why Boston Whaler?

        Originally posted by Chris1956 View Post
        If I were in the market for a Whaler, you can bet I would inspect the quality of the boats I saw. Everyone can have quality or design problems. For example, my neighbor has a two-three year old 27 foot center console Whaler, w/ twin screws. The quality is pretty good, but some things are strange. A mounting screw (1/4"-20) that held the boarding ladder, broke off. The problem was that the backside of the screw was buried inside the inner hull. We did not have a method to replace it. In addition, as I looked around, it was obvious that a lot of stuff was buried inside the inner hull. I find this to be at the minimum, annoying.
        Since they sold out to Brunswick a Whaler is only a Whaler by name. The quality, while still good, isn't what it once was.
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        • #5
          Re: Why Boston Whaler?

          I disagree about the cost/value equation.
          I should have said that I thought the opportunity cost to buy those boats was too great for me... so I walked on the deal. Those sellers probably got what they wanted and probably because they were Whalers.

          I eventually bought a Grady one time and a Donzi the other time. I paid less for each.

          But do any other powerboats hold their resale values so well? (Besides the old Chris Crafts)

          My interest in Boston Whalers began in 1967, when a squall line hit a huge fleet of boats on Lake Michigan that were fishing for salmon on the MI side of the lake. Hundreds of boats were sunk or swamped, 73 fishermen were lost.
          JB, I tried to research that storm. Do you recall when it happened? I found the snow storm in January (devastating) and the tornados in April, '67.

          And I've always respected the Pacific Seacraft sailboats because one survived the Perfect Storm and landed on a beach in North Carolina completely intact when it was all over.
          Rot never sleeps.

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          • #6
            Re: Why Boston Whaler?

            I believe that storm was in August of 1967 off Muskegon, MI. That is when the salmon craziness was at a peak. There were guys out there in canoes, ignoring the USCG copter warnings.

            I agree that the fine edge is off the quality of Whalers since Brunswick took over. The very best Whalers were built between 1973 and 1986, and the best of those were the Bob Dougherty designed hulls. My favorite of all the Whaler hulls I have had was the Striper 15. For bigger water, up to and including the Atlantic Ocean it is close between the Classic Montauk 17s and the original Outrage 18.

            I think it should be noted that Classic (pre 1990) Boston Whalers are specialized fishing boats that can be adapted to other uses.
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            • #7
              Re: Why Boston Whaler?

              Originally posted by JB View Post

              I have owned seven. I still want an early 70s Outrage 21.
              http://nevadacountytrader.com/product_desc.php?id=7512

              Not mine, just saw it this AM your post reminded me. "TLC Needed" boat

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              • #8
                Re: Why Boston Whaler?

                There are many fine brands of boats on the market. I have owned three Whalers and currently own an Outrage 190. The boat is built like a tank, rugged as Hades, high quality fit and finish, absolutely unsinkable and the boat simply inspire confidence when you are in the rough. I would rather be caught in a storm in our 19 foot Whaler than many much larger boats. However, when the boats start getting over 20ish feet I start looking at other brands, but, below 20 feet, nothing equals a Whaler for staying on top and slugging it out in the rough, for that day you get caught out, a little Whaler is more boat than you might think. People know this, they know the quality, the rugged build and the legendary flotation that far exceeds even current requirements.

                I too have punched through a green wall of water and driven back on top, a Whaler can do it with some luck, most boats cannot.



                A BW is a one piece boat, the inner hull and outer hull are bonded together into one structural assembly in the mold and cannot be taken apart, the hull is injected with foam while in the mold and the hull has to sit in the mold until the foam cures, this results in a higher manufacturing cost, one reason boats of this type construction cost more. It is also why they hull is as rigid as concrete no matter how hard you run them and also accounts for the unsinkable "legend" as it were.

                BW invented the one piece bond and foam injection process, they also more or less popularized the center console layout in small boats. Like Coca-Cola, a Whaler is the real thing and people know it even when they don't want to admit it and after 50 years they have become a boating icon.

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                • #9
                  Re: Why Boston Whaler?

                  Originally posted by dingbat View Post
                  Since they sold out to Brunswick a Whaler is only a Whaler by name. The quality, while still good, isn't what it once was.
                  I cannot disagree more, I have been out on and operated several classic Outrage 18s and I much prefer the current Outrage 190 or several of the post classic designs, they are bigger, heavier, beefier, ride better, more seaworthy and they are built just as well, actually better minus a bunch of cheap maintenance intensive teak. I call BS on this Whaler "urban" legend.

                  This is just more of the "Brunswick owns Bayliner so everything Brunswick produces is no better than a Bayliner" baloney. It gets real old and Bayliner BTW since Brunswick bought them have been greatly improved and are a decent starter family boat now unlike the pre-Brunswick Bayliners.

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                  • #10
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                    Re: Why Boston Whaler?

                    I grew up in a 13' with an 18 Evinrude. 1964 blue hull; my dad bought it new. Still have it. When I was young and stupid I survived everything Darwin threw at me and lived to breed. Ha. Ran through treacherous ocean inlets; jumped tugboat wakes all day long. Slammed into sandbars. Carried gear and people into squalls and busted ice duck hunting. I believe, like the way a kayak can handle rapids that a life boat can't, that a 13' whaler can handle anything, any size.

                    Except ethanol. Damn motor's down again.
                    A man of constant boat tinkering.

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