Whalers in PNW - Puget Sound

A conversation among Whalers
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Whalers in PNW - Puget Sound

Postby mikepnw » Wed May 17, 2017 3:08 pm

I'm looking at a used Montauk 170 to allow my family with two kids to explore some areas of the Puget Sound on appropriate weather days - Lake Washington, Alki to Blake Island, Blake to Bainbridge and Poulsbo, or Anacortes to San Juans - a stretch, I think, that would require careful planning and awareness with such a small boat - yet it would allow us to store the boat in our standard-sized garage and keep it close for easy and frequent use, or trailer it to explore lakes or inland Canada, carefully. Yes, I understand and agree that a cabin and an additional 5ft of length would offer more protection on the water, but at the expense of the ability to store in a garage with a low 79" door height.

The activity on Continuouswave is a positive factor in choosing to purchase a used Boston Whaler. I have two questions for those of you who know the waters and the Whalers: 1) are my expectations above far out of line for the Montauk 170 with a 90hp 2-stroke, and 2) I see other options such as used early 2000's Sea Pro 190cc with larger 4-stroke motors for much less money, so what other than brand confidence and the community such as Continuouswave might I be purchasing by choosing a Whaler? Thanks! Its helpful to have a place to ask questions.

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Re: Whalers in PNW - Puget Sound

Postby jimh » Sat May 20, 2017 10:58 am


Boston Whaler boats have always sold at a premium price compared to many competitors' boats. That trend continues, although if comparing prices of Boston Whaler boats today to other very high quality boats, the price difference is not as great as perhaps it was in the past.

Used Boston Whaler boats tend to retain much of their value and do not depreciate as quickly as other brands.

A higher initial price and limited depreciation account for the generally higher prices asked for used Boston Whaler boats.

As with any product, the ability to sell at a higher price than competitors is usually based on customer demand and customer attitude. An underlying element of the attraction of the Boston Whaler boat is the very high reserve buoyancy provided by the double-bottom hull construction with foam filled interior. A further attraction is the general long life span of Boston Whaler boats. Many continue to be very useful as they age, and even 50-year-old boats are in use. The good design of the Boston Whaler boat, particularly the relatively simple and utilitarian nature of the classic boats, has also contributed to their long life and their continued appeal.

The 170 MONTAUK is an evolutionary design from the original 16/17-foot hull, first introduced more than 50-years ago. That this general boat design has been in continuous production for more than 50-years is a good indication of the success of the design.

As for the ability of a 17-foot Boston Whaler boat to operate in open water, the weather and sea state are the determining factors. In today's world of advanced weather forecasting, it is quite reasonable to have good forecast for condition for the next several hours. Since a 170 MONTAUK can make speeds of 30-MPH or more, in several hours it can cover a lot of water.

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Re: Whalers in PNW - Puget Sound

Postby jimh » Sat May 20, 2017 11:09 am


If looking at a used Boston Whaler 170 MONTAUK boat with a two-stroke-power-cycle 90-HP outboard, I suspect you will find the outboard to be a Mercury brand 90-HP ELPTO model. This engine was offered as the base engine when the 170 OUTRAGE was introduced in c.2002 at a price of $17,655. For more information see


The Mercury 90 ELPTO outboard engine is a three-cylinder two-stroke-power-cycle engine that has a very good reputation. It is a very simple engine, with minimal electronic devices. The engine provides good power, and if properly tuned and in proper condition, the engine should start easily and run well. The only drawbacks to the Mercury 90 ELPTO are those inherent in all classic two-stroke-power-cycle engines with carburetors:

--poor fuel economy
--noisy operation
--smoke in exhaust

The concern about fuel economy can be viewed in light of present day gasoline fuel prices. It seems quite common to find retail gasoline on the highway for $2.50-per-gallon. At that price, burning more gasoline is not particularly an overwhelming financial burden in the total cost of boat ownership. Also, a 90-HP engine won't consume all that much fuel, even an older two-stroke carburetor engine.

The noise of operation is an annoyance you will have to live with. Modern engines tend to have been designed to provide much lower noise levels.

The smoke in the exhaust can be mitigated by using top-grade oil. A modern two-stroke-power-cycle oil like the Evinrude XD100 will burn without smoke, ash, or carbon building up.

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Re: Whalers in PNW - Puget Sound

Postby jimh » Sat May 20, 2017 11:40 am


Making a voyage in a 170 MONTAUK from Anacortes, Washington to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington is a passage of only about 25 miles. Most of the route is in protected water. The only open water segment is the crossing of Rosario Strait, a distance of about six miles. I am sure that if you pick a day of reasonable weather, it will be a relatively easy passage to make Friday Harbor from Anacortes in a 170 MONTAUK.

There is tidal current in Rosario Strait. I recommend you consult the NOAA SAILING DIRECTIONS for more advice.

https://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/nsd ... 13_WEB.xml

Consult with local recreational boaters for additional information. Often there are locally published tide tables and cruising guides available.

Also, large ships transit through Rosario Strait. Be cautious when taking their wakes, which can generate a series of large and steep wave fronts.

Another concern is Guemes Channel. The coastal pilot advises:

The current velocity in Guemes Channel exceeds 5 knots at times. It is reported that the flood (E current) is accompanied by an eddy between the E end of Guemes Island and Cap Sante with the W counter­current extending about 200 yards from the shore along the N side of Fidalgo Island.

When tide and wind oppose each other in this channel, small craft should consider other routes or waiting for conditions to change as the short steep seas can be dangerous.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: there is probably no other boat that will fit in your garage that will be safer to use for making such a passage than a 170 MONTAUK.

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Re: Whalers in PNW - Puget Sound

Postby Dutchman » Tue May 23, 2017 10:31 am

Having just sailed that area a couple of weeks ago I don't see a problem doing what Mike (the OP) is talking about. Yes there are some strong current through the narrower channels, but, like Jim said, with a 90HP motor in an unsinkable safe Montauk that shouldn't be a problem.

Personally I was surprised how calm the Pudget Sound is compared say to Lake Michigan. I noticed while sailing and in the forecast that the average wind speed is seldom over 7 knots keeping wave action down. The summer winds are normally less so making some of the crossings you're talking about easily made and there is always land in sight.

I did notice very few Whalers and more of the all-aluminum skiff-type boats which must be popular. I spend 48 hours cruising on the sound and Lake Union and only noticed about thee Whalers of which two were Sport 13 boats.

I think you would enjoy a 170 Montauk for the reasons and uses you mentioned.
"Clumsy Cleat"look up what it means
50th edition 2008 Montauk 150, w/60HP Mercury Bigfoot

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Re: Whalers in PNW - Puget Sound

Postby PeteG » Tue May 23, 2017 4:51 pm

Like Mike, I was recently looking at used Boston Whaler boats, specifically for a Montauk. I was trading up from my trusty 13-foot classic. I hadn't looked at any [Boston Whaler boats] and was confused why there were so many [different models] in the same lengths. I found out the Montauk is for sheltered waters. Remember the amount of fuel you can carry is limited to the number of fuel tanks you carry on deck. I went with an Outrage because I wanted to get back to blue water. A side benefit of the higher gunwales and sea keeping ability is a 65-gallon tank in the hold--not on deck.

So although [Boston Whaler] 17 to 20 footers look similar, there's a reason for their differences. Read up a little and you might be glad you did.

As was said above, you'll spend more, but you'll get a piece of mind and virtually no further depreciation.

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Re: Whalers in PNW - Puget Sound

Postby Windblown » Mon May 28, 2018 12:52 am

Not sure if you're still looking for input on this, but I ran my Montauk from Bellingham throughout the San Juan Islands for years when our kids were little. We also ran the boat from Edmonds or Everett to Port Ludlow and Port Townsend. Obviously you would want to watch the weather very closely and my trips would normally be dictated by the conditions. One of the best parts of the SJ Islands is regardless which way the wind is blowing there's probably a protected route so the destination would change occasionally.
The biggest challenge we had was quartering wind/waves where the spray would get whoever was on the windward side. When the kids were little they bought into this being part of the "San Juan experience".
I'm sure others thought we were crazy to be in such a small boat, but I it was great to bop about in that little boat.
We still have it and run it occasionally for old time sake but have moved up to a little more boat with a 250 Outrage. The 17 got small about the time the kids were about 12/10 yrs old.

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Re: Whalers in PNW - Puget Sound

Postby msirof2001 » Tue May 29, 2018 12:00 am

I have been in Puget Sound a lot. Wind against current makes steep waves, a lot of debris in the water. Logs, excetera. Keep your eyes open.
Current: 2017 Everglades 295cc, Previous1: 1995 Boston Whaler Outrage 21, Previous2: 1974 Sevylor Caravelle 3-man liferaft.